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Designing Your Author Website

My new author website is live and mostly ready to go!

Spurred by helpful instructions about what authors should have in a website, I wanted a site that was active with fresh content, though the newsletter feature is not yet live. I am so pleased with the results, and wanted to post some photos here to thank Paraclete Multimedia for listening to all of my suggestions and working on multiple revisions to get an author website that is both fun and functional.

My instructions to Paraclete were that I wanted a lot of white space and a clean, contemporary design. I hate clutter, whether it's in my house or on the Internet!

I also wanted a calendar page so I could let readers know about speaking engagements that might be happening in their area.

I asked for a "fun stuff" page so I could post links to things that are on my bookshelf, or blogs that I enjoy. This page is a work in progress, as I'll be updating it as I can. I also still need to activate the newsletter option at the bottom; I am trying to choose between MailChimp and Constant Contact in setting up a quarterly author newsletter.

One thing that struck me when I did a little research about successful author websites was the need for interactivity and regular, fresh content. Author Media had this to say:

A pitfall many authors fall into is that they keep redesigning their websites instead of adding value to them.

When they first get their website, it is the most beautiful site on the web. Like the mother of a newborn, they can’t see the flaws and only see the beauty. After a while, they begin to get tired of the design and start to nitpick. After a couple of years, they hate it and want to start over. They forget that their visitors don’t spend hours looking at their sites like they do. Their visitors don’t notice the subtle “problems” of their site.

Most author websites look just fine. The problem is there is nothing to see.

Think of the design as a picture frame and the content (blog posts, articles, podcasts) as the picture. My recommendation is to spend ten times more time and money creating a good picture (the content) rather than a good frame (the design).

Well put. With this in mind, I had the designers put my twitterfeed right on the front page, positioned fairly prominently so that readers could see the latest chapter of the Twible. In the spring, when I've finished tweeting the entire Bible, I'll go back and revise the project, tweeting several new chapters a day as I go. All that will appear automatically on the front page of the site.

Overall, I'm thrilled with my website and its subpages. Since it's on a WordPress platform, I will be able to make updates and changes myself when I need to, rather than having to pay a monthly maintenance fee and go through a third party.

Authors who are looking for great website design should consider Paraclete Multimedia. They've also done sites for Phyllis Tickle, Luci Shaw, the Redbud Writers Guild, Walt Wangerin, and many others.

Here's the lowdown on costs: I paid about $2100 for my site, including all the subpages and multiple revisions so Paraclete could get it exactly how I wanted. That price included a 15% discount since I am an author with Paraclete Press. I had done some looking around, and while it's not the cheapest rate going, it was not at all unreasonable for the kind of service I got. (During the revision process, they were always waiting on me to give feedback; I never had to wait for them to get back to me.)

I hope you enjoy the site. Check back for future updates.

 

Topics: Culture, Arts & Media
Beliefs: Interfaith

Comments

  1. Thanks, Jana, for sharing your counsel, specificities, and about your journey. I’m currently musing and praying about my own site. I’ve been on WordPress.com for about 15 months, and it has served me well. I’m sensing that it’s time to upgrade, but I want to do this right and not rush just to get something “new and flashy” up on the web. You’ve given me good and helpful things to think about.

  2. So glad the post was helpful. Author Media has been a good source of guidance as I’ve been thinking about these things: http://www.authormedia.com/2010/11/30/7-secrets-for-amazing-author-websites/

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