Websites can be a thing of beauty and selling power or they can hurt you. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve been to some poorly designed websites/blogs. Those sites that make you cringe at the design before you even get the chance to read the content, and that is if you can find the content you are looking for.
If you are serious about being an author, you need a website. This is your 24/7 web ad. If you have a blog, my suggestion would be to combine them. Number one reason is that your blog will keep the content on your website fresh and higher in the search. I use wordpress.com as my website and my blog. You might want to use something else and that is fine.
The colors, font, and pictures tell visitors at a glance what your site is about. So as an author you want your website to reflect the Author persona, your genre, and your books. Extra filly items are just that, extra, and they can distract from the professionalism you are trying to show. I suggest using the K.I.S.S. Principle when designing your website. Don’t know what the KISS principle is? It’s the Keep It Simple Stupid Principle.
The Side Bar(s)
The sidebar can be the most useful part of your website if utilized properly. Reduce the clutter by getting rid of ads. Oww! I can hear the screaming from here. I know some of you make money off those ads, but unless they are for your book or something you think will benefit your target audience, they are taking up valuable space and annoying people.
To give you an idea of what should or could be there, I made a list.
- About the author blurb that is about 100 words. Think Twitter profile. At the end of the super short bio have a link to your bio page, blog, and/or media kit so people can learn more about you.
- Email subscription to blog and RSS feeds. For the love of your readers, please have both. If you don’t, you lose potential readers. Not having these can be your biggest blogging mistake. Don’t believe me? Then let me say it this way. If I happen upon your blog and you don’t have an email subscription, you’ve lost me. If my friend happens upon your blog and you don’t have an RSS feed, you’ve lost her.
- Sidebar Images: This can be images of awards you’ve won, covers of your books, your author image, word count meter of your current work-in-progress, banners for blog tours and giveaways, recent posts or comments, archive of posts, search, links to other places to find you on the web, etc. Just don’t over clutter the sidebar or readers will have a hard time finding stuff.
Most people suggest putting the most important information above the fold. I’m going to say put the important things above the fold and make sure what you have put below the fold is just as interesting. You want the readers eyes to be drawn down and bright images catch the eyes and make the fingers twitch.
Pictures and Text
Having pictures in your posts, on your pages, and in your sidebars are great, but too many can be way too many. You don’t need hundreds of pictures (unless it’s a portfolio for artwork). Use pictures to break up text. Make sure it relates somehow to your topic. If possible downsize your web images into 72 ppi/dpi or 96 ppi/dpi for faster loading. You can finds some free image places from this post.
Simply put, color orients the reader where they and evokes emotions in people. Certain colors and types are better for some genres while others are better for another.
Brown: endurance, relaxing, confident, casual, reassuring, earthy
Orange: enthusiasm, cheerful, stimulation, creativity.
Yellow: attention-grabbing, lively, intellect, happiness, energy.
Green: durable, reliable, optimistic, harmony, freshness
Blue: depth, stable, professional, loyal, reliable, spiritual, trust
Purple: power, luxury, mystery, royalty, elegance, magic.
Want to know more, visit the Designer Handbook of Color.
Headers and Backgrounds
Your header and backgrounds says a lot about your blog/website. It’s the first thing people notice upon arriving and it feeds their impression of where they are, what they are seeing, and possibly what they will be reading.
Be careful about making them too busy or textured. Some backgrounds seem to be popular and I’ve never figured out why. They are distracting and remove readers from what they are reading. Now Joleene has broken the textured background rule and she’s done it with style. She wrote a post on blog backgrounds and appearance.
For fun, take a look at the headers below and guess what genre these author’s write. The answers can be found at the end of the post. 😀
I could write a book on website designs do’s and don’t, but I’m really not interested in writing what others have written to death. There are a lot of great books out there on blogs and websites, my favorite comes from Problogger (non-affiliated link). I’m sure you could find others that fulfill your needs.