As you can see, on the Build the Hill graphic, the only thing bigger than your website is your actual books.
Your website is your essential presence on the ‘net, your ultimate landing page. Now you may decide to use your blog for this purpose, and that’s fine. But you need to think of your website as your all-in-one landing place for everything you do across the social media.
That’s a big task, right?
That’s why it’s so important to do some real thinking about how you want this part of your presence designed. It needs to have clear jump points to other places people can find you on the ‘net and clear points of interest that can and do change as you grow and expand.
Let’s first look at some things that don’t work on many websites:
1) They are static. Their top page looks the same tomorrow, with the same content as it did six months ago. BORING! If your content doesn’t change and you demonstrate that to me every time I visit your website, why should I bother coming back?
2) Weird or hard to follow layout. If I land at your website, how long will it take me to find: your email address, your book links, your blog? If I have to look, you’ve lost me. So make your navigation system impeccably clear even to someone who has never been there before.
3) Although the top page should be dynamic, you can use the underlying pages for static content. Your bio would work great on your website as would links to your books, blurbs, etc. Just don’t put those on top. Static goes BEHIND dynamic. Not on top.
4) Never, EVER tell me about you first. I know, counter intuitive, right? Well, not if you are the reader. If you land on a site that says:
Hi, I’m a writer from North Carolina. I grew up by the seashore, but when I got married, we moved to…
How long are you going to stay? Unless this is your long-lost friend, not long.
Tell me in your opening paragraphs WHY I should stay on your site. What am I going to learn here, what I can I find here. Give me, the reader, a REASON to stay! Introduce yourself on your bio or about page NOT on the top page.
5) Make your site interesting and inviting or at least in line with what you write. Don’t give me a boring, business site if you write romance. Every single element on your site must be in line with your purpose for having that site. For example, on my site I won’t use Ad Sense, etc. because I’ve seen times when their content doesn’t match my purpose. Same with Affiliate links. I will put my own books on those, but not random ones because I don’t want a new visitor to show up at my site and see a dead girl with blood streaming out from the book Amazon just happened to place over there.
BE INTENTIONAL about your site and your overall presence on the ‘net.
If you sell Christian fiction, don’t show up on another site somewhere else cussing and trashing everybody. That seems obvious, but sometimes, people don’t realize just HOW cohesive people expect you to be if what you’re promoting is Christian. Be the same person across the ‘net.
There are many other topics with designing websites to be found such as Search Optimizing. We will touch on these a bit in the coming lessons, but this is an area that changes quickly and I’m not an expert at it (though I once was very good at it and then got sidetracked and technology moved on without me). So, ask your website designer for a list of things to do to optimize your site (SEO–search engine optimization). If they don’t know what that is, get a new designer because a pretty, well-laid out site only goes so far. You need to understand how to get that site found in the gazillion pages on the ‘net.
Next time we’ll talk about what can go on a website.
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