The more I learn the less I know. Especially regarding technology. But I keep trying.
My new plan is to combine my website and blog into a single online presence. It makes sense to me to send readers to one place instead of two. Yet I realize not many authors do this. Is it because website design software typically doesn’t include blogging capabilities? And/or because the free blogging sites (Blogger, Typepad) don’t accommodate web pages?
WordPress.com says you can do it all. Add web pages to your blog or make your blog a sub-page of your website. This is exactly what I want to do—create a blogsite. But so far, I find the setup on WordPress to be less than user friendly. At least in comparison to Blogger. So this could be a long and painful process. Especially the transferring of posted blogs from here to there.
So I’m conducting a survey. Authors: Do you maintain a separate blog and website? If so, why? Do you have more than one blog? And if you combine the two, what software or blogging platform do you use?
Readers: Do you like it when an author’s blog is part of his/her website? Or do you visit author websites looking mostly for book information?
I’ve been thinking about redesigning my website. When I first put it up I was in a hurry, needing a web presence ASAP to support various promotional activities I had going. A graphic artist/friend designed the pages—and I liked the look—but I didn’t know what I really needed or wanted at that point. So for the last few weeks I’ve been asking about people’s favorite author sites and looking at dozens of websites to see what design elements they have in common (and what they have that I don’t). Here’s my findings.
For crime authors, most sites have a black or dark grey background with white text and red accents. So in that regard, my designer knew exactly what she was doing. Good examples:
Most of the popular sites also have very little text on the opening page (or top half of the opening page). Instead they have vivid pictures (often changing) and book covers. About half of favorite author pages have their photo on the opening and half don’t. Examples:
Many of the informal-survey favorites have a blog built into their site and others have page that is distinctive to their site—Sticky Notes, photographs, Fan of the Day, character bios. Examples:
Almost every popular site I looked at had a row of clickable navigational links across the top of the design and often down the side as well. Many also had pull down menus from those tabs.
What they don’t have:
I was surprised to see that many author websites don’t have obvious BUY buttons. They may be buried somewhere but you have to search for them. And many do not have links to the home page on every other page. On some of the sites, I found it impossible to get back to the home page at all.
Overall, my favorite for design is Karen Olson’s. She hit all the right elements—clean gorgeous opening page, easy clickable navigation, black/white/red color scheme, access to the home page on every page, and big buy buttons. The only element she lacked that some others had was the unique page.
And J.A. Konrath gets honorable mention for having the most usable content and an easy to navigate structure.