Now that I’m done promoting Andy Griffith movies (No Time for Sergeants is hilarious by the way) let’s move on to our list of author websites and things you shouldn’t do. Ready for website no-nos 6-10?
At first glance you might think this is fine. It’s a clean enough layout with readable font. And if it were on any other free website provider other than Wix, I’d agree with you. But here’s what’s wrong with Wix: It’s Flash based. Flash is fine if you’re on a computer, but what about mobile users? Smart phones and tablets don’t come with Flash. I think there’s a way you can tamper your device to accept Flash, but it’s technically illegal and most people aren’t that tech-savvy to do it. If you want to use Flash, I strongly recommend that you have a non-Flash website for mobile users to go to. I know when I’m on my iPad and I can’t get to a website, there’s a good chance that I’m going to move on and forget about that initial website unless I really want/need to go to that website. Don’t lose out on potential readers by not having a Flash-free website for mobile-users! The second major problem is at the bottom. See my sloppy outline of a box? That huge box has this author’s Twitter handle. But there’s no @ sign before it. It’s just: TWITTER HANDLE. This author’s name isn’t listed anywhere except on their book covers. Never assume that all your readers are coming from one social media site and always have your author name somewhere where the reader can see it visibly. You want to make sure that readers know that it’s your work. Not everyone is going to know that big heading is your Twitter handle and might mistake it as a pen name. Do not make that mistake.
I don’t advise you to use Tumblr as your official author website. Things tend to get lost in the myriad of reblogs and unless you tag everything diligently, information is bound to get lost. A lot. If you decide to provide an author photo (which I advise that everyone has an author photo posted somewhere) do not Photoshop yourself! Especially if you purposely Photoshop yourself to look strange. I think providing a silly picture is fine in a blog post or if you decide to use it temporarily on Twitter or something, but not as an official author representation of yourself. Too much strange and silly editing to your picture might turn people off because they think you’re not being serious about your craft. And always provide the book cover to your books whenever you have an informational page on them. You want people to make a visual connection to your work.
One of my pet peeves is clutter on a website. And I feel that upon first load, this website feels cluttered. The header has a list of things that the blog/website (kudos for this author for having a blog/website) discusses. And then there’s the background image that has information on the author’s book and more fun stuff in the header! It’s almost like an information overload. But then you start to scroll and things start becoming neater. Like super neat. I just really wish that the background image didn’t have that information there. It would look so much neater without it. You could easily move that information into the sidebar so that your visitor doesn’t feel bombarded upon first load. Other than that, I really like the website. It’s simple and easy to use and any one who utilizes the power of their footer area gets a star in my book. That area is for content. Use it. I use mine for recent posts, Twitter feed, and social media sites where you can find me. It helps keep the sidebars and header clutter free.
If you must have a semi-transparent background area on top of an image, please be sure that you can still read your links. See that red inset I added? That’s a close-up of the menu area. And it’s difficult to read “Home” because the font color blends in the image background. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a readable links and content. I zoomed out on this author’s website/blog so you can see that the author has set this to one blog post per page. That is the most annoying thing a blogger can do. What if I want to click back to some post you wrote a week ago and you write a blog post every single day? That’s seven pages that I have to go through versus one or two pages that I’d have to go through if you set it so that 5-10 blog posts show up per page. I also took note this author’s sidebar is huge. The author listed every single book they wrote on the sidebar. Don’t make your webpage unnecessarily long. That’s annoying, too. Provide about 1-3 covers of your most recent work (or maybe your most recent work and most popular work) and place it in your sidebar. You don’t need to barrage people with your books especially when you have to scroll way toward the bottom for contact information. I also advise all authors to have a separate page for their books. It helps keep things from getting too cluttered in your sidebar and will provide a page for readers to scroll through and check out your work.
Never make your header image so large that your reader has to scroll down to see your content. That blue line I added is where the initial webpage loaded. I had to scroll down to discover that there’s content beneath those images! Whatever you do, do not hide your content beneath super large and imposing header images. Even though this is strictly a blog, I still suggest adding a few pages: Books and Contact, definitely. The easier it is to find something, the better. If you’re an author, I also advise you to take affiliate ads off your blog. I know you’re a starving artist, we all are, but plastering ads everywhere on your site, especially lingerie ads like the one I provided an inset for, are annoying. Look at that model. Lingerie ads are practically erotica images. And erotica images are associated with porn and porn is associated with viruses. (Did you know: You’re actually more likely to get a virus on a religious website than a porn site.) But back to the ads: You’re already a salesman trying to make a reader purchase your work and hopefully love it. Why bombard them with even more advertising? If you want to earn an extra buck or two through affiliate sales, I highly suggest starting a separate niche blog.
I really hope that most indie authors have nice websites and that me randomly choosing author websites to use for examples isn’t a reflection of what’s out there. Look at best selling indie author websites if you must. All of their websites are clutter free and easy to navigate. There’s no bombardment of information upon first load. Your website is your “home base” on the internet. Make it look presentable and maybe, just maybe, it’ll help you sell some books.
In case you missed them: