Social platforms come and go. Your website is your brand’s home base. Here is our website cheatsheet to help you design and create an effective outpost.
The three basic features of a productive web presence are:
- It is Clearly Defined – If you’re selling books, that’s what the site should be about. If you are a podcaster, put the links to you shows on the homepage. Effective website content is RELEVANT to what the visitor is looking for.
- It is Easy to Navigate – All content should be one click (a maximum of two clicks) away. Create clear menus. Avoid clutter with too many pictures or words. USER FRIENDLY websites draw more visitors and longer visits.
- It is Dynamic – If you decide to create a website, keep it up to date. Don’t start a blog or an events calendar unless you have the time to maintain them. If you offer a contact form, be prepared to answer the emails with reasonable speed.
Steps to creating a winning website:
- Select a Domain Name – This will be the web extension of your brand. Make it simple enough for a business card, memorable enough to catch an ear in an elevator pitch and short enough to easily tweet. Our recommended domain name registrar and WordPress web host is Namecheap.com. You can find both your domain name and select an inexpensive web hosting option at Namecheap. We have over ten years experience with their services and have built websites for most of the leading hosts. Namecheap is our fave.
- Pick a place to host your website – While we highly recommend a WordPress website, hosted with Namecheap.com, there are many options. WordPress is open source, free and well supported and updated. It comes with a variety of hooks for just about any function you want to add to your site and has a large developer base, continually creating new themes and updating existing products. For those who want something even simpler, SquareSpace and Wix are two other alternatives. Both offer user-friendly interfaces to help you quickly create a website which they host.
- Sketch out your navigation list – What do you want to share with your customers? A bio? Your Books? Merchandise? Your thoughts and musings? These are all navigation options that lead to pages where you can go into more depth on each topic. For authors, a biography, a listing of your books with purchase links and a contact method are the basics. Some authors share press and podcast appearances, invite visitors to sign up for a newsletter and have a calendar of appearances as part of their website. Others sell merchandise to go with their brand. What you decide to feature will depend on what your overall website strategic objectives are. For most of us, selling books is job one.
- Find a Theme – WordPress, SquareSpace and Wix all offer themes, preset layouts, that are designed to go with a specific business or brand. WordPress offers the largest array, many are free, and you can test drive the look before committing to it. Once you have selected your theme, you can populate each item on your navigation list.
- Create the Content – People come to the web in search of answers. “List books written by…” is a typical search query authors get. Google prioritizes the answers it gives based on how well you have optimized your website to help search engines find you. Search Engine Optimization is an art and a science. The short version of SEO is as follows:
- Search phrases associated with your products appear clearly and often on your website and social platforms.
- Explore SEO keyword generators on line to get a sense for trigger words that can help direct your audience to you.
- Consider the Yoast WordPress plugin. It can help you build pages and posts that rank well across the search engines. The free version has good tools to get started.
- Keep it fresh – If your time is minimal, design a site that requires little upkeeps. Bio, Books and Contact info. Link to Amazon or your preferred vendor for your books. Use a form plugin to assist visitors in contacting you. If you are a blogger, blog on a schedule for we creatures of habit. Make sure new releases get up on your site in concert with launch day.
Need help? We build WordPress websites for authors. Check out our rates and services menu for details.