Suggestions for Author Websites - From Readers - Part 1

December 2008

Each summer, I spend time going through the list of books I own, and going to author websites trying to determine which books I still need, which books are a part of a series, etc. Certain sites are much better than others, and I've been known to actually contact authors to tell them of mistakes that I find (ie titles missing from published books lists)

I also find that there are certain things that I like and dislike on the sites, and wondered what other readers think. Considering the passionate responses I received, I believe that authors might want to take these suggestions and comments into consideration for their own sites.

I have split the feedback into two parts. The first is more about the layout of the website. The second will be specifically about the book list page.

Although many people responded, it was typically the same comments, or even agreeing with what a previous person wrote. Besides the book list, which will be addressed later, the readers want simplicity and up to date information.

1) Easy to read. Multiple responses were that readers do not like dark colors (especially white lettering on black background), a background emblem that stays static as you scroll the screen, and too small font size. All of this makes it more difficult to read. Also, be sure to use a simple and easy to read font.

2) Clutter - Try not to put too much information crowded together, or information in multiple columns. This was a common complaint. Also, avoid anything extra that slows the loading for the site - such as flash intros, music, etc.

3) Topics - keep everything easy to understand.

4) Keep it Up To Date - If something has been delayed - say so. When a contest ends, remove the information from the site.

5) Easy to navigate - have the links be self explanatory. There have been author sites that I have gone to where I can't figure out which link is for the books. For example - use these links: Books, Upcoming Releases, Reviews, Free Stuff, About Me, Contact Me.

6) Have a site map

7) No flashing lights, sparkles following the curser etc. It bothers some readers and makes them less likely to browse your site.

I would be interested in learning your opinions for author websites. Feel free to e-mail me also with questions or topics you might like to have addressed in future columns. Although I do not make any guarantees, I will take all e-mails into consideration.

Continue to Part 2.