Tips for building an author website that is totally you!
I see myriad opinions floating about when it comes to the subject of building and maintaining an author website. Some suggest handing over the reins to professionals. While that is hassle-free, it can prove to be way too costly for independent authors struggling with the whole publishing gig. Besides, it means you don't get to make a website that truly captures your creative persona. I believe that with enough options and plenty of tools available, it's best to build a website on your own. I'm going to share some tips and tricks with you here which I've learned over the years as a blogger and website owner.
Choose Your Style
Picking your style is the first step towards building a website that reflects you or your writing career. You can choose to be minimalistic or go all out and pamper the bizarre in you. Before anything else, however, you need to select a platform. If blogging is your priority, you might want to opt for Blogspot or Wordpress. These platforms are more suitable for bloggers. But if your wish is to create a stunning website that caters to more than just blogging, you should choose Wix or Weebly. I have been using Wix for quite some time now and I've been perfectly happy with it. There are free and paid options in all these website builders. I suggest you start with the free version and only pay when you're comfortable with the whole process. If it proves to be too tedious, you can always fall back on the services offered by professionals.
Once you have picked your style, you'll have a clear idea about what you want your website to look like. Or yours could be an idea that takes shape gradually as you go along. Whatever the case, begin with your Homepage. Pick a color scheme, a menu type and font styles. These can remain the same on all your pages or you can choose separate ones. Let your creativity guide you but don't clutter the page. Make sure not to pick too many different fonts because that might just discourage readers from exploring further. Some colors and backgrounds are hurtful for the eyes, try and avoid anything that can affect ease of reading (since you're a writer I'm assuming you'd want your website to feature your write-ups). Remember to include important links on your Homepage, like links to social media and other pages you'd want your readers to visit.
Once your Homepage is complete, work on your author page. This will be an area where you can showcase your books and write about your WIP. Use templates--be it columns, slides, interactive galleries or any other variety of text and picture options. I say this because premade templates allow you to choose color and font options without having to bother about alignments. Your author page complete, decide on whether you'd like to include a blog section. You can always have a great author website without a blog. If you want to write a blog, great! Make a separate page for it and always add hashtags/categories so your readers know what to look for.
Next, you're going to have to set up an About Me section. I'm sure you already have that ready but instead of adding your regular author bio to this section, it'll be better if you write a bit more and in a casual, conversational tone because it tends to engage readers better. You can include your contact and social media on this page itself or create a separate space for it.
Menu and Lightboxes:
It's time now to choose what kind of menu option you'd prefer. Lightboxes or drop down menus work best on mobile sites, in my opinion. So, for the desktop version of your website, use the traditional horizontal menu. Apply this same menu format to all your pages but you might need to make slight modifications as far as text alignment is concerned.
Once your desktop website looks perfect, move on over to designing the mobile version. My tip is keep it very simple. Use the optimizer which most website builders offer so your mobile website will have all the features you already set up but with a mobile-friendly interface. Check whether the elements are all there and no page is too clumsy. Add a link to your app if you have one.
And voila! Your website design is done. You are closer to the finish line than you think. If you want to buy a domain, you can do it via your website builder and link it to your website. Or else, you can use the free default domain which will have your website builder's name. That done, just hit publish and your website will be up and running. To manage SEO options, you can take help from your platform or your geeky buddy. Don't worry, it's quite simply. You only need to write down what Google will show when someone searches for your website or your name. Each page will have unique SEO so mention keywords accordingly. Avoid using words that aren't commonly searched because you need to increase your visibility. This is the last step, really. You can hype up your website after this is done. Congratulations, you are now the proud creator and owner of your savvy author website!