Would your author website pass the blink test? According to marketing specialists, you have about three seconds—the approximate amount of time before one blink—for visitors to judge your website and decide whether to stay or move on. If the answer is “no,” your potential audience will quickly leave and be off to the next site. So it’s vital that your website doesn’t have any issues that will frighten people away, such as unattractive, dated design elements; super-slow loading speed; or confusing navigation. And a homepage that greets visitors with a black background and flashing advertisements will have people clicking away from your site in seconds flat.
Don’t scare your potential readers away! Here are thirty-four issues to avoid on your author website:
- Your site has no clear purpose. Visitors must click through several pages and read too much text to figure it out.
- Users are forced to read something or watch something before they can move on.
- It’s unclear what you write, what your genre is, or what you’re promoting.
- Your site doesn’t have an author bio so that visitors can learn more about you.
- The design elements of the site don’t reflect you or your work: For example, your thriller’s cover is featured against a flowery backdrop with lots of hearts.
- You don’t allow visitors to buy your book on your site, and there’s no link to an external sales page.
- There’s no way to contact you—which means you have no way to harvest interested readers’ contact information.
- Readers can’t comment or interact with you and other visitors.
- There’s no current activity on your blog—all the entries are weeks (even months!) old.
- You’ve copied and pasted articles from other websites onto yours without permission.
- Your content is displayed in huge paragraph blocks. Remember: Using headlines, bullet points, and short paragraphs helps visitors to read through and take in your information.
- The website doesn’t have any social media buttons. See our article on How To Cross-Promote Your Author Website And Your Social Media Pages For Max Results.
- There’s nothing to engage the reader. No contest to enter or sample chapter to download. No sign-up for mailing lists. No way to follow you on social media or “like” your site.
- Your favorite song immediately starts playing—and your visitors immediately leave.
- You have no press kit or information for literary agents who may be checking out your site.
- The domain name doesn’t make sense. It’s the name of your first book (but not any of the others), or you’ve chosen some “writerly” name like WindWhisperer.com that has nothing to do with your work. (Learn more about choosing a professional domain name.)
- Your author photograph is unflattering, unprofessional, or cropped from an old (bad!) Halloween photo of you. (Check out how to create a flattering headshot.)
- You’ve made the wrong color choices…really wrong.
- Your site has been proofread by a friend, who needs new glasses—not by a professional.
Other design problems that will send visitors running:
- An all-black background with white text.
- Teeny, tiny text, unreadable fonts, or ALL CAPS! (See How to Choose the Right Font for Your Website.)
- Too many images and not enough text.
- Too much text and not enough images.
- Text is overloaded with keywords.
- The writing is unnatural; heavily SEO-driven.
- No links; broken links.
- Links that aren’t underlined or a different color, so they don’t stand out.
- Overly long links that are 10 to 20 words or more.
- Too many pages to navigate.
- Too many pop-up ads, animations, whistles, and beeps.
- Amateur, poorly done photographs and cartoonish images.
- Too many unnecessary design elements cluttering things up.
- The site isn’t mobile-device friendly.
- Readers are forced to install plugins.
Most of these mistakes may seem like no-brainers—things even brain-deficient zombies would know to watch out for. But the design issues that might scare visitors away from a website aren’t always so obvious to you, the website’s owner. So don’t be afraid to ask trusted friends or total strangers to give you some honest feedback about your site before it goes live. Your author website is a reflection of you and your work—make sure it passes the blink test!
At Web Design Relief, we design author websites with readers in mind—the people who will actually use them—and we know what converts visitors into fans. Contact us if you need a spook-tacular site to showcase you and your writing!
QUESTION: What design issue scares you the most in an author’s website?
Great things to remember when designing your professional website. Thanks so much. I’ve shared this generously.
All of these make sense! Noted, and thanks for the reminders!
The bullet point: “Your site has been proofread by a friend, who needs new glasses—not by a professional,” just made me giggle out loud.
These are all good points and I can see a few areas where I need to fine tune my blog page.
OH yes. The SEO one got me- If you’re hiring someone to write your text in hopes of boosting SEO- just like hiring an editor, this is NOT the place to skimp. Do not hire the cheapest freelancer off oDesk.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are many quality freelancers, myself included, who use oDesk and other job databases, and it’s perfectly possible to hire a good SEO writer there- but- ask for samples and review content they’ve done for other sites before committing! Not all freelancers are created equal.
Also, remember that a web designer is not necessarily a writer. Either write the copy yourself or hire a vetted freelancer to do it for you, and check, double check, and re-check for errors. There’s nothing worse than an author’s site that includes misspellings of his or her own name!
The design issues are really important, especially the mobile responsiveness and keeping the website simple without many pop ups, design elements and widgets. I keep telling that to my clients though it means less work for me(hence, less pay!).