One of the most important features of an author website is the homepage: It’s your business card, welcome mat, and first impression all rolled up in one! But with so many possibilities for content, it can be quite overwhelming to determine what does—or doesn’t—belong on your author homepage. Make the wrong choice, and visitors will quickly bounce. The experts at Web Design Relief have put together a list of design tips and key elements to help you build an effective, good-looking homepage that will encourage visitors to stick around and explore your site, check out your books, and sign up for your newsletter or mailing list.
Author Homepage Content That Readers Can’t Resist
A Clear-Cut Author Brand
Your homepage should clearly present your author brand: who you are as an author and the genre you write in. This can be reinforced by your homepage theme and layout. For your font and background, choose a style, color, or image that relates to your work. You can use elements that reflect your genre; for example, a dark, eerie mansion in the woods for horror, or hearts and flowers for romance. Or you can focus attention on your latest book by using the book cover in the banner the way Bella Andre does:
This is also a good place to bring your credentials to the forefront—don’t bury the lead! If you’re a bestselling author, now’s the time to mention it. If you have a great quote from a book reviewer, you want to get it in front of your audiences as well. You can also use this space to tell the story behind the story. But remember, clean and simple is much better than cluttered and distracting. You want your audience to know they are in the right place and be intrigued enough to continue reading.
The Scoop On Your Latest Book
If visitors are coming to your author website because they want to know more about your latest book—make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for! Use an eye-catching image of your book cover art, and be sure to feature any great quotes from reviewers. If you have a new book coming out, be sure to showcase it. Include a short book blurb to hook readers and turn them into buyers. Encourage visitors to go deeper within your website by offering the release date (if your book isn’t published yet) and linking to an excerpt. Or you can have Buy buttons that link to sites where your audience can purchase your book. Take a look at how Harlan Coben’s author website handles his pre-release info on his homepage:
An Irresistible Call To Action
Your call to action should be obvious on your homepage. You want visitors to easily perform the action you want: Do you want them to sign up for your newsletter? Read your blog? Buy your book? Whatever you determine your call to action will be, make sure it’s clear and engaging. And regularly check your analytics to determine how readers are coming to your author website and what pages they visit most. This will help you market more efficiently.
Keep things simple: If you want visitors to read your blog, include it as a page on your author website, rather than in a separate location. Have a link on your navigation bar for quick access. For newsletter sign-ups, you can have the sign-up box be a constant element on your sidebar so that it’s available to your reader on any page on your site. This way, you’ll provide a convenient opportunity without being too aggressive. Another option is to have a newsletter widget on the homepage that pops up whenever your site detects a visitor is about to leave. You’ll be surprised at how well it works! Here’s how author James Patterson gets more newsletter sign-ups:
Quick Connections To Social Media
While visitors are hanging around on your author website homepage, make sure they can also easily connect to your social media. Place recognizable Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter buttons or widgets in the sidebar, the book showcase section, or in the banner. The widgets will offer a sneak peek of your latest tweets, posts, or a few photos from your Instagram. You want your fans to be able to follow you on social media as well in order to get updates in real time. Here, Rita Woods has her social media buttons right next to her latest book on her author website homepage:
News About Upcoming Events
Showcase the latest news, publications, and upcoming events on your homepage: book tours, signings, or readings at local bookshops. You can add photos or videos from previous events as well. Fans enjoy reading about and meeting their favorite authors—and a meet-and-greet is a great opportunity to hand-sell your book! Engage your audience with news about contests, raffles, gifts, and refreshments. J.K. Rowling may not be serving any pumpkin juice, but her fans can catch up on her latest news right on her homepage:
With the right elements on your author homepage, you’ll entice visitors to stay longer and become dedicated fans.
If you don’t have an author website yet (and really, you should!), the experts at Web Design Relief are ready to help. There’s a package for every budget—schedule a free consultation today!
Question: What makes you want to spend time on an author’s website?