What makes a good WordPress theme for an author website?
A theme is a group of files that dictates the look and feel of your entire author website. Because it controls every design aspect a visitor sees, it’s important to select your theme carefully.
But there are hundreds upon hundreds of themes to choose from across the Web. For the less-than-tech-savvy author, deciding on the best one for an author website can be daunting…and a bit intimidating. How do you pick a WordPress theme that is eye-catching, memorable, and sure to impress readers, literary agents, and editors visiting your site?
Here are some theme elements you should consider when designing your author website:
1. Clean, Text-Friendly Design
Writers have the unique task of finding a WordPress theme that’s capable of featuring large amounts of text in an aesthetically pleasing way.
So when searching for a theme, keep these important criteria in mind:
The fonts must be legible (no fancy handwritten fonts for body text, please). And if your audience skews to more mature readers, make sure the font is large enough to be easily read without zooming in or squinting.
The colors should contrast but not clash. Black text on a white or light-colored background will be easier to read than the other way around, and glaringly bright colors should be avoided. You don’t want to give your visitors a migraine.
Text lines shouldn’t run too long horizontally. Wide swaths of text can be hard to read, and you’ll lose engagement if a reader’s eyes have to travel too far left and right. Likewise, you should include several paragraph breaks—no one wants to read a giant block of text.
2. The Ability To Customize
There are many visually impressive WordPress themes, especially among those users have to pay for. But the best-looking WordPress themes tend to also be the most popular—which means all the websites using them will look exactly the same.
If your author website looks like dozens or even hundreds of other websites, it’ll be harder to make a lasting impression on your readers and potential fans.
The easiest solution—short of having someone design something completely custom for you—is to find a WordPress theme that offers customization options that will allow you to create a personal brand and make it your own. This can be as simple as allowing you to upload a custom header image or to change the background and font colors.
The more flexible your theme is in allowing you to insert your own personal branding into your author website, the more you can make it reflect your personality, writing style, and genre.
3. Prompt, Reliable Technical Support
Websites can occasionally be tricky and glitchy. WordPress itself is generally reliable. But when you’re dealing with a theme designed by a third-party developer who throws in extras like plugins and widgets, there’s always a chance something might go…ka-blooey.
So it’s vital that you choose a theme by a developer who offers technical support. Most developers will have a contact form on their website so you can get in touch if problems arise. Larger companies often have support forums or ticket systems through which customers can request technical support and customization help.
If a theme you’re considering doesn’t have a way to contact the developer for information or support, you’ll want to choose an alternative. A developer who is anonymous or appears to have fallen off the face of the Earth is probably not making regular updates to the theme. Eventually, the theme may become incompatible with future updates to WordPress, and you’ll be alone dealing with the resulting glitches and problems.
4. Flexibility and Upgradability
As a writer, you will evolve and grow over time—and your author website should do the same.
Over time, you may want to change the look of your website to match your latest book cover. Or perhaps you’ll need to add a sidebar with interactive widgets as your social media presence grows. Does your website theme allow you to add these updates without requiring a major overhaul?
Just as your theme needs to provide a certain level of customizability, it should also allow you to expand your website offerings. Consider a WordPress theme with plenty of space for widgets you can add in the future, or consider one with a choice of several page layouts. That way, you’re never stuck with just one way of presenting your information.
Need total control over your WordPress theme?
If you feel comfortable dealing with the technical aspects of building an author website, consider using a framework such as Headway or Thesis to create what is essentially your own WordPress theme. These tools let you customize every aspect of your site: from the colors, to the fonts, to the page layouts themselves. However, these advanced theme frameworks are typically best left in the hands of someone with technical know-how.
This may all seem overwhelming—but don’t worry! If you don’t pick the right theme at first, you can always change it later. And, of course, you can always avoid the problem entirely by leaving the hard work to someone with a lot more experience—Web Design Relief offers a variety of author Web design packages suited for every budget and every writer.
Photo by Christopher Ross
QUESTION: What do you think is the most important element of a successful author website?