Whether you're starting with a blog, creating your own website, or paying for a professional, fully-loaded website from a web developer, there are six elements every effective author website or blog should have.
1. An easily navigable menu
Don't make it hard for visitors to find stuff on your site. A clear clickable menu in plain sight is a must-have.
2. About Me Page
Readers will want to get to know you, so always include a biography. It should be personal and engaging, and not too lengthy. If a reader has taken the trouble to visit your 'About Me' page, it means they're interested in you. Don't waste the opportunity to make a fan or friend of them! But be careful how much personal information you share - you don't want stalkers to find out where you live!
(In next week's post I'll share some tips and examples to help you write a strong bio)
3. Your Books
This might seem obvious, but you'd be amazed at how many beginner authors make it really hard for readers to find their books!
Each book should have its cover, book blurb and buy links displayed. By 'buy links' we mean clickable links that take the reader straight to a place where they can buy your books online. Don't simply link to your publisher's page. Most readers won't have an account with your publisher, and they won't want to register and fill in forms just to buy your book.
Definitely include an Amazon link - and not just a link to the store, but to your actual book's page in the store. Ensure that the link you use is free of tracking code. (I'll post on 'clean' links in the next couple of weeks). Amazon is the biggest online retailer, with the most number of readers, and you ignore it at your peril.
Remember that readers who have found you online are very often shopping online, so I cannot emphasise enough that these links must be current, correct, and clickable.
Do not make readers jump through hoops to find your book. Don't expect them to go to Google to find where they can buy your books - most won't have the patience and will simply give up, and you'll have lost the sale.
In this age of social media and instant communication, readers will expect to be able to connect with you. If they can't, they'll think you're rude and stand-offish, which are not considered good things to be! You don't need to supply an email address, and you shouldn't provide a phone number, but a contact form (which forwards to a mailbox you check regularly) and social media links are highly recommended.
5. Mobile Friendly
Most web users these days are on cell phones and tablets rather than desktops, so ensure that your website or blog displays correctly on mobile. Pre-formatted blogs should automatically display correctly, but if you're designing your own site (for example, using Wix) make sure you view the site in both desktop and mobile views before publishing.
6. Clean Layout
While a clean and uncluttered layout perhaps isn't exactly essential, a bad or out-dated design, or a heavily cluttered page will turn away website visitors before they've even begun to discover you or your books. Ensure that the fonts you use are legible, that the backgrounds and pictures do not take too long to load, and that the site is easy on strained eyes that already spend way more time online than they should!
What other features do you like to see on authors' websites? Do you have any questions? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments below.