An author website should reflect you and your work and it should be the best it can be to help get promote your work. There are a few things that can make a website stand out more than others.
One of the best things you can do for a website is to provide an easy way to navigate around the site. If you have a lot of information crammed on the site and buttons and links are unclear to the viewer, it makes it difficult for people to find what they are looking for…. and it may stop them from returning. Having simple links to your pages or pictures to click on that describe the page or information, makes it easier for people to use your website and helps ensure you exposure.
Having a website that is easy to load will make it a hit with viewers. It’s hard to predict the connection speeds your viewers will have, so it’s important to consider load time in your design approach. For instance, lots of video and flash animations can be engaging, but they can also take time to load in the viewer’s browser. If you use a hosting service, this can be managed by them to some degree (i.e. videos can be buffered, which means they are served up a little at a time rather than waiting for the entire video to load before it begins playing). But in general, it’s a good idea to balance the use of videos and flash with the use of photos and text.
The visual aspect of your website can make a difference too. You want the background or pictures to reflect you and your writing. If you are a romance writer, having a website full of pictures of your spouse’s muscle car doesn’t make sense, unless it’s part of the story in your book. Having said that… it is ok to let “you” shine through. If that muscle car is yours and you love it, talk about it on your “bio” or “about” page and add the picture there. But leave it off the page that describes your regency romance.
One of the most important things to remember is making sure the site is updated regularly with fresh content so that people have a reason to return. Make regular blog posts, talk about upcoming or recent events, post pictures of that event, or add a twitter or facebook feed to your website so your social networking activity is visible from the site.
With just a few of these things you can make your author website one of the best promotional tools in your toolbox.
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