How to Write Like a Professional

How to Write Like a Professional
6 Surprising Mistakes That Make Writers Look Like Amateurs... and How to Avoid Them

Thursday, October 11, 2012

[1 of 3] What Makes a Good Author Website?

I've been thinking a lot lately about the qualities of a good author website. As a writer, I am constantly looking at books, researching those same books online, looking up authors, searching out debut authors, connecting with bloggers, surfing in online bookstores, checking out agents and their sites, researching editors and publishers. I've gotten pretty good at identifying what I like and don't like and what works and what looks unprofessional.

What makes a good author website? || how to design a website | should writers make their own websites | qualities of a good author website

It's the same with reading books. The more you read, the more you know what you like and don't like. I'm a picture book person and quite choosy about which books I label as my favorites. There are a lot of picture books I absolutely adore. And then there are a good number about which I am left asking, "And this got published because why?" or "Cute, but who's going to buy it?" The more you look at other authors' websites, the more you'll have an idea of what you like and don't like and how you might want to go about designing your own.



The point is that when you get yourself a website, it needs to be good. If you are a writer who is more or less just starting out (i.e. "pre-published"), then you could make your own website for kicks and for practice (like I did), but don't keep it once you're published. When you cross that bridge, it's time to upgrade, revamp, or go all out and get a professional site.


Most Important Elements of a Professional Author Website


The sweet spot for the number of navigation tabs (listed in the "Informative" bullet) is 5 to 7, but you can get creative and group some in a drop-down menu.

Beautiful


Visually appealing. Professional-looking images. Not choppy, too small, or too big.

Voice


It's gotta BE YOU! This can by a style, a theme, or even just the color scheme.

Informative


The best sites have most (but not all) of these tabs:

  • Home 
  • About
  • Books
  • Blog (if you have one)
  • Contact
  • News
  • School Visits (if you do them)
  • Resources (for writers, parents, teachers, educators, or kids)
  • Activity pages or Fun & Games (if applicable)
  • Calendar (for upcoming events)

Efficient


The information presented should be easily accessible, look sleek, and run smoothly. Navigating from page to page should be seamless, enjoyable, and not take any extra brain power.



9 Essential Things for a Great Author Website






Good Examples of Picture Book Author Websites

Elements of a Sub-par "Homemade" Author Website


  • no header or banner
  • no prominent display of author's name (adding a GOOD author photo is also a good idea)
  • no images (or using only clip-art style images
  • everything in sharp squares (old-style html)
  • images and/or text doesn't line up
  • strange lines running where there shouldn't be any
  • large text
  • too much bold text
  • every page is a different color
  • book page with
    • no current books (if you're published)
    • no links to buy books (IndieBound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble)
    • no book cover images
    • no ISBN numbers, publisher, date, or summary of book
  • no contact info or link
  • difficult navigation (tabs not displayed on every page)
  • tabs only at the bottom of the site (instead of at the top or to either side)
  • every page is a giant image (including the text), like a PDF
  • no links
  • using animated images
  • long text/lists with no images
  • links that say CLICK HERE
  • too many fonts and colors for text on the same page
  • INCONSISTENT from page to page 
  • inconsistencies within a single page 
  • distracting and/or busy backgrounds
  • a site that is actually a blog (okay for beginners, but can be tricky when adding more depth or more pages, although Wordpress is a good option)



9 Essential Things for a Great Author Website






What are some of YOUR favorite author websites? Share in the comments!

Read the other blog posts in this 3-part series: 
#2: THE COST OF HAVING A WEBSITE
#3: HOW TO CHOOSE A WEB DESIGNER

Keep on keepin' on...

BACK TO TOP | READ MORE POSTS

4 comments:

  1. Your post is perfect timing. I've thinking about websites and its designs. I really like Corey's website. It's fun, simple and clean. http://www.coreyrosenschwartz.com/Home.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm glad I could help you. I really wouldn't pay to have one built until you have your first book. But you can totally make one yourself in the beginning. Yes, Corey's website is AWESOME!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Although I feel hungry everytime I visit her site, I am officially addicted to the book reviews at http://jamarattigan.com/

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh Cathy, that book, Apple Cake: A Recipe for Love looks DELICIOUS! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete

I love hearing from you! Share your thoughts below.

AddToAny

Link Within

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...