Whether you’re self-published or are contracted to a trade publishing house, setting up and maintaining an effective website is one of the most important steps in creating your author brand, allowing you to spread awareness of your books and communicate with your readers in a central place that is entirely under your control. But if you have not done it before, the thought of launching a website can seem overwhelming and perplexing. ALLi partner member and freelance designer Rachel Lawston has provided a helpful list of 10 important things to consider before you start.
- Establish your objectives. Is it to share information about your latest books or is it to sell your books from your own online store? Your aims will define your website’s content and tone.
- Identify your audience. It is very important to identify who your main audience is, as it will affect your tone, design, content, search engine optimization, and usability. Build your website around your audience – your readers will not visit if they do not know your website exists or if it doesn’t look like it is for them!
- Financial issues – ensure you know:
- How much money will you need to invest in your website
- How much it will cost you need to maintain it per month
- Who will manage and maintain it – yourself, or a bought-in expert
- Whether a blog might be a better and more cost effective option for you
- Domain name. It should be easy to remember and spell. The best option would be to go for either your author name and/or series name. If you have a common name and the URL is already taken, add “author”, “writer” or similar to your name.
- Web host. These are companies that provide space on a server for your website. Allow plenty of time to research. Things to compare are:
- Costs and additional fees
- The bandwidth/space
- What tools you’ll require
- Customer support
- Customer reviews/feedback
- Design. Design is vital, because if your website isn’t legible or easy enough to navigate, your reader will not visit again! The look and tone should reflect the aims of your website, and connect with your readers in the best way for them. A successful website should describe through design, tone and content who you are and why they would want to read your books. Things to consider if you are going to hire a professional are:
- Their experience
- The number of revisions allowed
- Fees for maintaining the website
- Ease of communication
- Do they understand your audience
- Do you feel comfortable working with them?
- Keywords and tags. Research the keywords that your readers will use to find your website and books when you are planning your website. That way you can enter or provide the necessary optimized tags and content whilst you are building.
- Visitor security. Ensure your visitors feel safe when using your website. If you are going to have an online store to sell your books from there should be a secure form.
- Social Media Integration. Sync your website, blog and social media channels together. They should work seamlessly together to promote you and your books.
- Analytics should measure, collect, analyse and report back to you data regarding your website so you can understand what is working and what isn’t. There are free analytics tools available as well as ones that require a fee, so allow plenty of time to research them.
- Check, check and check again! Each web browser will display your website differently. Just because it looks good on one, doesn’t mean it will display that way on another! So do check thoroughly. Regarding the content, if you can, do invest in a talented proof-reader and/or editor before you publish.
If you would like more guidance or support with your website or have any book design questions, please feel free to contact me on my website www.lawstondesign.com or visit my Facebook page www.facebook.com/lawstondesign. I never charge for advice or consultation.
EASY TWEET “10 #toptips for author website design by @lawstondesign via @IndieAuthorALLi: http://selfpublishingadvice.org/website-design/”
OVER TO YOU What’s your top tip for web design? Do you have a question about your website design that you’d like to ask Rachel?