One of the things I frequently recommend for an author homepage is a “welcome” message, in which you give first-time visitors a good understanding of who you are, what you write about, and what people will get out of your book and your website.
It’s Marketing 101: If a visitor can’t figure out the point of a site in a few seconds, they’ll leave.
Here are some common mistakes that authors make which can get in the way of conveying their message:
- They have their most recent blog entries at the top of the homepage at the expense of the most important thing that visitors should see when they arrive
- They feature their book covers in the most prominent spot on the site — without any explanation of what the book is about or who it’s for
- They make their website so image-heavy that it takes forever to load and/or the images outweigh any text that actually has something to say
- They use a Flash intro, which is fun to look at, but really accomplishes nothing in terms of getting the message out there (not to mention the other problems that come with Flash: search engines can’t read your site, mobile users can’t view it, etc…)
There are actually many different ways that an author can convey this message effectively on the homepage. They include:
- Using a tagline in the header (http://yolandashanks.com/)
- Including a tantalizing one-sentence summary of the book (http://www.topekatornado.com/)
- A colored/highlighted “headline” that grabs people’s attention (http://www.thematchstory.com/)
- An introductory paragraph that explains what you hope people will get out of the book and the website (http://thecancermd.com/)
- A bulleted list of questions and/or the appropriate audience for the book (http://timodonnell.org/)
It’s a sad fact, but the majority of people who visit your website will leave in a few seconds. But you can increase the percentage who stay if you can grab their attention and pique their interest in those precious few seconds that you do have. The best way to do that is with a clear and concise message.