by Christine Wells
A friend of mine is in the process of revamping her website. I might well do the same very soon, so I've been contemplating my options.
For me, it's no easy thing to decide on a design for my home on the web. I'm much the same with designing the interior of my bricks and mortar home--I couldn't tell you specifically what I want but I have strong opinions on what I like (and don't like) when I see it.
Funnily enough, in the past this has frustrated my web designers. Ah, well, I'm a Libran, what can I say?
So the thing to do when you don't know what you want is to look at other sites to see what they do well, right? Here are some of the things I think about when I'm looking at an author webpage:
*Is the design pleasing to the eye?
*Does the design suit the tone of the writer's work? Flowers and hearts are not usually appropriate for an author who writes dark paranormals.
*Is there a well laid out home page with just enough information on it, but not too much?
When I go to an author home page I want to know what kind of book they write and the latest book they have released, maybe also the book that's 'coming soon' if the latest has been out a while. If the home page is cluttered with a thousand different messages and widgets and covers, my eyes simply glaze over and I don't read any of it.
Actually, I don't doubt some readers love that busy kind of page, especially if they're devoted fans who visit often, but my aim with a home page is to give the casual browser quick access to the information they're most likely to want. If they like bells and whistles, my guess is they'll click on a button called 'extras' or 'fun stuff' to find them.
*Like any reader, I love extra content -- this might be in the form of articles, news, a blog, facebook page, second epilogues, dossiers on characters and so forth. Blogs and social media feeds give the feeling of currency and the extra content means you're getting something special from the website that you can't get from reading the author's books. Those extras give readers a sense of the author's personality and a feeling of connection to the author.
*Book trailers -- If they're done well, they can enhance a website for me, as long as they don't take forever to load.
Here are some sites I like (not counting fabulous Bandita sites, of course!):
We all know Jenny Crusie loves collaging and the header of this site has that eclectic feel to it, along with Jenny's signature cherry. I loved her previous site, too. This has a darker, more magical tone that suits the direction Crusie seems to be taking with her fiction these days.
Susan Holloway Scott. This is simply one of the most gorgeous sites on the web, in my opinion. Everything about it shouts historical opulence and Susan Holloway Scott writes about the mistresses of kings so the tone is just right for her books. I particularly love the botanical drawings on the borders. They're different on each page and add richness and colour as well as a sense of period to the site.
Julie Garwood Usually I wouldn't recommend a home page that takes a while to load, but this one is worth it for sheer novelty value.
Loretta Chase uses an old-fashioned letter with a seal as a background for her website. I like that she gives just enough information to help me decide whether to read further, but not an overwhelming amount. See the great tagline she has next to her latest release?
Kieran Kramer is a debut author who writes fresh, witty historicals and doesn't her website reflect that? I love that she has a nice welcome and salient points about her books with links to other fun stuff, too.
So here are my questions for you, dear readers!
What is your favourite romance author website?
What do you like best about this website?
What do you dislike seeing on an author site?
I'm looking forward to hearing your answers! Thank you in advance for letting me do some important market research:)