One of the biggest challenges in developing a website — any type of website — is speaking to a variety of audiences. For instance, when I was working on developing a website for a private school, it was hard to make sure that current parents, potential parents, and alumni all felt like the website spoke to them and met their needs.
An author website is very similar, in that there are always different audiences that are visiting. The greatest challenge in regards to an author website is making sure that both potential readers and previous readers are both spoken to.
For instance, I’m a big believer in making it as easy as possible to buy the book (or books) from any page on an author website. But you have to be careful not to make the site too marketing-centric. Because if someone already has read the book and comes to the author website only to find that you’re trying to get them to buy it again, then you haven’t really satisfied them.
Conversely, if your website focuses on conversations about the book, or offering previews of future books, then people who are newbies might feel left out. They may leave the site before they even find out about your latest book and why they’d benefit from reading it.
There isn’t one specific equation, or magic solution, that ensures your website will suit both of these audiences. But here’s how I suggest you go about doing it properly.
- Prioritize Your Goals. Every author is in a different and unique situation. A person who’s written their autobiography has very different needs in a website than a romance writer who’s just released their debut novel. If your sole goal for the website is selling books, then speak primarily to the audience of people who will buy it — those who haven’t read the book yet. If your goal is to build a fan base for all your future books, then you should primarily be encouraging people to sign up for your newsletter, interact with other fans of your writing, and come back to the site regularly.
- Use Your Space Wisely. A website may be unlimited in some ways, but good, quality space is not one of them. When someone comes to your homepage, what do they see? What’s immediately visible to the eye — without any scrolling or clicking? Make sure you have at least one element speaking to each of your audiences viewable at first glance.
- Put Your Navigation to Good Use. Have very clear tabs in your navigation that would make it easy for anyone to figure out where they should go. Have an “About the Book” page or a “Featured Excerpt” page where you speak to an audience who probably doesn’t know much about the book. Make sure there’s also an “Ask the Author,” or “Readers Talk Back” type page where people who want to talk about the book or the subject matter can interact with you and/or each other. The clearer the names of these types of pages are, the easier it will be for people to find their way around.
Have you ever visited an author website and felt like it was speaking to someone else? What would you have done differently? Tell us what you think!
And if you’re ready to start discussing your author website, contact us today for a free consultation!