Guest Blog: How Effective is Your Author Website?
I think we can all agree that having a website is probably one of the most effective online promotional tools that any author can have. It allows you to list your books, tell readers a little bit about yourself and encourage some sort of interaction either with a contact form, or via a Twitter/Facebook/newsletter link, or maybe even a special reader’s section with freebies or giveaways.
To be an effective website, however, it must encourage visitors to stay, read, explore and most importantly—return.
Today I’d like to share a few tips on how to create an inviting website that visitors will enjoy so much they’ll look forward to coming back over and over again.
1.) Avoid any immediate visitor turns-offs such as music that plays automatically. Think of those poor fans who may want to sneak a peek at your site during work hours. Ack! Now they’ve just been busted by their boss because music on your site woke up the whole office. You don’t want to get someone fired, do you? 🙂 If you must include music on your website, and I’m the first to say that it can give a site “atmosphere” when used properly, make it optional. Give visitors a clear “play” button so they have the choice of listening or not.
2.) Avoid Flash intros, if you can. Sure they look cool and make your website super spiffy, but how many times can you sit through an animation of a door opening or boxes of content sliding into place in some dramatic way before you say, “Oh, the heck with it. I’m going somewhere else?” You see it once, it’s a novelty. You see it a dozen times, it’s a distraction bordering on annoyance. Usability studies show that visitors like to get to information quickly. Anything that delays that, no matter how “cool,” will soon lose its appeal if visitors must slog through it every time they visit your site. If you must use a Flash intro, always (and I mean always), include a clearly marked “Skip Intro” button to allow visitors to bypass it. Remember, it’s not all about you and what you think looks cool. It’s about the visitors you’re trying to attract, and you should give those visitors options to access your content in a way that’s most convenient for them, if you want the visitors to keep coming back.
3.) Update your home page regularly so that when visitors return they don’t feel like they’re seeing the same thing over and over. This doesn’t mean you need to update the entire page all the time, but something on the page needs to change so it feels “fresh” when visitors stop by. Many writers achieve this by having a “Latest News” block at the top of the page, or a simple Twitter or Blog feed that updates regularly in a column on the side. After all, one of the reasons you have a website is to keep your fans informed about what you’re up to. Don’t leave them with the impression that you haven’t moved a muscle in the last six months. 🙂
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I have lots more to share! If you’re interested in learning how to make your website more effective for promoting you and your work, please join me for the next session of my 2-week online workshop “Principles of Good Website Design for Writers” May 5-17, 2013 at the FF&P RWA chapter (http://www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=749). I hope to see you there!
Catherine Chant is a Golden Heart® finalist and the author of the young adult time travel romance WISHING YOU WERE HERE (Book 1, Soul Mates) available in print and e-book at Amazon.com. She teaches multiple online writing classes each year for RWA chapters and other writing organizations. You can learn more about Catherine at her website: http://www.catherinechant.com
WISHING YOU WERE HERE by Catherine Chant
Young Adult Time Travel Romance
She’s out of place…
He’s out of time…
In 1956, clever spin doctoring and a string of pre-fab hits turn Joseph Temporelli into Joey Tempo, the biggest sensation to hit Memphis since Elvis Presley. Within twelve months he’s gone—killed in a transatlantic plane crash.
55 years later, Callie Reinard diligently plans for college and a career in radio. When she discovers Joey Tempo’s iconic first album, her desire to change his fate opens a doorway to 1957.
She stops Joey from boarding the plane that will take his life, but then finds herself trapped in a world where equal rights are as foreign a concept as missions to the moon. The future she so tirelessly worked toward now seems out of reach, and her liberated attitude jeopardizes the second chance she envisioned for Joey.
Worst of all, if Callie can’t find a way back to her own time soon, she may lose more than a college education and the career she’s always wanted. She may lose her heart to a boy destined to marry someone else.