I think one of the biggest reasons why I am doing what I am doing is because whenever I would go onto an author’s site, I wouldn’t enjoy it.
The colors would be waaaayyy off.
The font would be really small, to the point where I couldn’t read it.
There would be no other content on the site other than the back blurb of their book.
To say I didn’t enjoy their sites would be an understatement.
And I wanted more. I wanted to know more about the characters. More about the story. More about the author.
But more often then not, I couldn’t find it.
I found a great article about websites and user experience by Hubspot. It’s called 8 Guidelines for Exceptional Web Design and Usability and User Experience. I’ll reference it and then point some things out.
8 tips to improve your reader’s experience on your site
User experience is a huge thing when it comes to your online success. If you have a crappy site, you most likely don’t have many visitors to your site.
If you don’t have many visitors to your site, the chances of you selling your book are slimmer and slimmer.
Let’s make sure that other readers have a good user experience by implementing some of the following tips.
The first one they talk about is simplicity.
The idea behind simplicity is that when readers come to your site, they enjoy what they see and how your site makes them feel.
How many different colors do you have? Hubspot recommends a max of 5 different colors.
How many font types do you have? And what size is your fonts? They recommend using a font that is legible and only going with 3 different sizes.
How many graphics do you have? As I reader, I would love more graphics. More often than not, there is no other graphic other than the book cover. And while that is not wrong, only having that is kinda boring.
They call the next one…
This is related to the simplicity of the site pages. But this one is more about the user experience (this is abbreviated to UX) that your reader will have when they are on your site.
On a well formatted page, you, as the reader, are guided from one thing to the next. (I am still learning this one. Even my own site is a work in progress.)
So the color, position, content, visual elements and calls-to-action are all placed in a certain order to convince your reader to navigate through your site a certain way.
How does your site rank for those kinds of thing? I can tell you that not many authors actually get this. Some do but most don’t.
The next one should be a given…
Having your navigation that ensures that your readers find what they are looking for is called intuitive navigation.
This is when a reader comes to your site and doesn’t have to think too hard about where to find what they are looking for.
This one is actually not a given. It is amazing how many authors sites have either not enough of a navigation to share their books. Or they have more than one line of navigation links that leave you confused. This makes your site have so much information that it gets very confusing.
This takes us to….
Each page of your site needs to look like the rest. Don’t have one page completely different with different fonts and colors and backgrounds. Make a point that you have a consistent feel of who you are and what you stand for.
This actually goes with developing your brand. Your brand is your visual picture that you present to the world.
That certainly doesn’t mean that each page must look exactly the same. That is not what I’m saying. Each page needs to have it’s own purpose. Be consistent in your color schemes, backgrounds, and fonts.
It’s the layout that is going to change. Each page is going to have a different layout because it is going to have a different purpose.
The next thing to think about is …
The accessibility is all about how well your site is accessed by your readers and how it responds to them.
Is your site mobile responsive? When your reader is standing in the bookstore and wants to look up your books, is she going to be able to find your books using her smart phone?
I have actually done that. And guess what, I couldn’t go onto some sites. They were not mobile friendly. I didn’t end up buying any books. A lose-lose situation for sure.
Another thing to think about is the meta data that you can’t even see. When you make a point to include the alt tags, your readers, that are visually impaired, can enjoy your books too.
This brings a subject that I have found very predominantly in the Romance Industry. Many authors think that they need to be different and have their sites be different to stand out.
As I have been learning things about marketing and copywriting, there is a proven format to what format sells and what format does not.
I can’t help but wonder if, because they are not selling, is the format of their sites part of the problem? If they changed their sites to be following standards set out by marketing gurus, would their books sell better.
I don’t have an answer to that one yet. I’ll get back to you on this one.
Some of the conventions are:
- the main navigation is at the top or left side of the page
- the logo is at the top left (or center) of the page
- is that logo a clickable link to bring your reader back to the home page
- do links change color when your reader hovers over them
Even you, as an author, know that there are some format conventions that you are familiar with.
A big one to consider is …
I’m sure there is a credibility factor that you have had to earn to be an author. I’m sure that you have had to earn your reader’s trust with your books and how well they are received by them.
But there is another type of credibility that needs to be earned online. And it is going to be largely due to how your site is formatted and what type of user experience your readers will have while on your site.
Your site needs to be clear in it’s message.
You need to be honest about your books that you are trying to sell.
You need to make sure your readers don’t have to dig to find your books or how to find you in social media.
The last thing is …
While I know your site is to showcase the books you have written and to introduce yourself as an author, you need to make sure that your website is designed with the reader in mind.
If you don’t believe me. Take a moment and send out an email to your email subscribers. Ask them for an honest opinion of your website. You might actually be surprised at some of the answers.
If you would like help updating your site to be more reader friendly, give me a shout.
Your friend always in romance,