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Does Your Author Website Need a Makeover?

July 7, 2014

1970s fashion

This used to be a groovy look.

I’m in the process of making over my website. (Don’t look now, the new stuff isn’t up yet.) The refresh is overdue and that’s kind of embarrassing. I’m like the plumber with a leaky faucet. Although I’ve let some things slide,  I’ve never really let it go fallow, because my website has proven over and over again to be key to my marketing efforts.

Many authors have virtually abandoned their websites in favor of social media. That’s risky, because you can never control what Facebook or any other social  media site does with its interface and functions–or your followers. These days Facebook wants Page owners pay for reach.  Only some of your followers see your posts unless you pay to promote them.

Social media sites go out of style. (Look around and you can see that Facebook isn’t the draw for the younger crowd it once was.) When the social media site where you’ve put all your eggs loses popularity, you’ll have to rebuild your presence somewhere else.

Unlike social media, you always have total control over your website (and your mailing list) and you can make them stronger and better over time.

Make an honest appraisal of your website. Is it showing signs of age?

1) Outdated content

Your blog hasn’t been updated in months; you’ve got a notice that your book is “coming in 2013″ and it’s 2014; and many of your links are broken. Why should a visitor stay—or return—if it looks like you’ve abandoned your site?

2) Doesn’t play well with mobile devices

Nearly two thirds of cell phone owners use their phone to go online, and one in five cell owners do most of their online browsing on their phone.   If your website doesn’t look good or function as well on a mobile device (smartphone and tablet) as it does on a desktop computer, you’re missing out.

3) No content management system (CMS)

You shouldn’t have to pay a website designer to make routine changes to your site. A CMS  (such as WordPress) makes it easy for you to create and update content, add images, and blog.

4) Old-fashioned elements

Is your design clean and modern-looking? Details such as a guest book, visitor counter, animation, flash introduction, and auto-play music or  auto-play video date your website and you look out of touch.

5) You aren’t being found by search engines

Search engine algorithms change. If you want to be found and draw traffic to your site,  you need to optimize your site’s content,  images,  links, and more.

6) No interactivity

It used to be that websites were a one-way conversation. Now, visitors expect clear invitations to interact with you by doing such things as leaving a comment, signing up for your mailing list, participating in a contest, or buying your books.

Your website is the foundation of your web presence. Technology changes rapidly. Even if your website is only a few years old, it could be old fashioned, poorly optimized, and ineffective. Perhaps it’s time to bring your website up to date?

What do you enjoy seeing on an author’s website? What features make you want to return or stay connected to that author?

______________________________
Mary Ann de StefanoMary Ann de Stefano is the editor of The Florida Writer (the official magazine of the Florida Writers Association) and MAD’s Monday Muse. She is also a writer, editor, and organizer of writing workshops with 30+ years experience in publishing and writing consulting. Besides working one-on-one with writers who are developing books, she designs author websites. Mary Ann does business at MAD about Words, named as a play on her initials and love for writing.

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8 Comments
  1. Carol permalink
    July 6, 2014 10:42 pm

    This doesn’t open on my pc…???

  2. Judith Ring permalink
    July 6, 2014 10:50 pm

    The link for “read more of this post brings up a 404 error message. Do you have a better one?

  3. Chris Hamilton permalink
    July 7, 2014 8:20 am

    I tested the links just now and they worked.

  4. July 8, 2014 1:51 am

    I tested all the links in the post as well and they were working. Are you two trying to open the post from an e-mail? I heard there was an issue with that today, which I think was likely a WordPress glitch, but we shall see. Please comment and let us know if it happens again.. So sorry for any inconvenience.

  5. Chris Malkemes permalink
    July 14, 2014 8:41 am

    Your comments are funny (or are they not meant to be funny). The very thing you told us to look out for are hidden problems on your post. Suggest you pick four or five great author websites and give the pro and con of each. What you’re saying is “spot on” I’m a blogger. I have blogged my book. It is a great way of writing every day to share. Have a great day, my friend. I still enjoy your Monday posts. You can find me here: http://www.chrismalkems.com

  6. Chris Malkemes permalink
    July 14, 2014 8:43 am

    whoops. lol! I wrote my website wrong. lol it is http://www.chrismalkemes.com

  7. Mary Ann de Stefano permalink*
    July 14, 2014 9:23 am

    Hi Chris, Thanks for your comment. I’m not sure what you’re seeing as the “hidden problems” in my post. But do remember, I am just a guest poster here. I am not responsible for the design of the site. And I happen to know the Florida Writers Association recognizes its web presence needs an update, and it is in the process of doing that.

    Haha! Writing an analysis of four or five websites is a great idea. Not sure I am up for that at the moment, as I have lots of projects already on my to do list! I will say that Hugh Howey’s is a good example of all an author’s website should do. He is genius in the way he connects personally with his audience and how he integrates his website with his social media presence.

  8. Marge Nelsen permalink
    July 16, 2014 11:53 am

    I am guilty as charged: six out of six signs of age. Thanks, Mary Ann, for a splendid plan for revision, some day.

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