You probably are wondering why I have not brought up a website yet. Well, wait no longer. An author website is the most essential piece of digital promotions you can have. It is your home base online and a source of information where people go to get the most up-to-date information about a person or their work. Your social media sites are used to drive traffic to this site because it is the most important of all of them.
Professor Hallahan has mentioned that there are seven essential keys to effective websites. I will explain below.
- Visually appealing: Your website must be inviting. It cannot be boring unless you want to create negative attention online. No one will want to visit the site if they don’t enjoy looking at the information or design. I wouldn’t spend too much time on a site that I think is dull. The information must be engaging and up-to-date. People must be able to use the information they find. It may have constant reinvention to provide updates of what is going on in the author’s work or life.
- Valuable, useful, or fun: The website must provide a reason to return. Let’s take for example the website of my favorite author: Dean Koontz. Normally I wouldn’t spend too much time on an author site but it is updated with new information about upcoming books, articles by Dean or other parties, audio and video, links for fans, etc. Create a site that will keep people coming back for more.
- Current and timely: Pages must always be fresh. Whenever I see a website that appears to be out of date, I’m not likely to spend a lot of time there. I see it as irrelevant and something that won’t apply to me. Why would I come back when the author is not spending any time updating it?
- Easy to find and use: It should be registered on search engines and use keywords to find information. I have searched for a couple of websites in the past that I have not been able to find. I eventually gave up. I’m sure this is a problem for the people running the websites if their content does not come up. This is especially problematic for those who have a business and need referrals from the web to make a profit.
- Intuitive on-page navigation: It should include hyperlinks, guideposts, and returns on the website. You want your readers to be able to navigate your site and get to the information they need immediately. If they get frustrated or lost, you only have a few minutes before you will probably lost that reader forever. They won’t come back and you might have lost a fan for life.
- Involves the visitor: The site should engage each visitor through interactivity. The goal of any online marketer is to get people to stay on the site as long as possible. If you create games or interactive activities, you can keep your visitors on the site longer and they will come back for more.
- Responsive to all users: You want all readers to be able to access your site. This includes being friendly to text, dial-up, physically/visually/hearing impaired, and non-English users. There are a lot of different people in the world and you want to attract all of them.