Happy Friday everyone! It’s a quiet work week here in the states. With Independence Day falling on a Thursday, many people are taking advantage of the long summer weekend … which only gives poor me a chance to catch up on my to-do list. (No rest for the wicked!)
But today’s “Friday Five” is just going to be a fun one: inspirational websites. We’ve all seen examples of awful author websites, they’re hard to navigate or the design doesn’t support the content, but there are so many spectacular ones, too! It’s great to see what others are doing and doing right, it helps us to determine the common elements every successful author website should have. (By the way, I’m not including any of the sites in my portfolio, that would be cheating.) 😉
What I look for when I evaluate an author website:
- Does the design create an instant impression and set an appropriate tone for the author and his/her works?
- Is it easy to navigate?
- Does it have a clear call to action and easy paths to book purchasing?
- Are materials for the press readily available (if applicable) — such as author biography, media clips, downloadable high-resolution photos, etc.?
- Is it easy to create a connection with the author in some way? (Either by following on a social media site, subscribing to updates, etc.?)
Here are some great examples of sites that get it right:
What I love most about it: This site is absolutely stunning on every platform — desktop, tablet and mobile. The designer used a “responsive” method (you don’t have to view the site on three devices to know what I mean, if you’re on a desktop, just take the right corner of your browser window and shrink it to the left — the site will “respond” and change as the size changes). It’s clean and organized, which makes his beautifully-designed book jackets the “star of the show.”
What I love most about it: This website has a ton of content but is very strategically organized: the persistent top-level navigation with intuitive labels provides the user with very easy-to-understand paths, guiding them directly where they want to go next within one click. The bold graphical treatment of the arrow at the bottom makes the call to action (connecting with the author by signing up for her newsletter) impossible to miss. Every book page has clear “buy” graphics, and perhaps most of all, I adore the header — the author photo changes as you click around the site and becomes the focal point of the design (because the rest is very elegant and clean and easy to read). The more “human” we can be on the Internet, the better in my book. And while your eye is up there noticing that header, all of her social media links are right there too. Brill.
What I love most about it: Actually, this is one STEVE really loves. It’s a great example of a highly-branded “one page” website using a parallax scrolling technique (things nerdy web geeks love). One thing I don’t love about this site is clicking on that “press kit” button up at the top initiates a download to my computer — I don’t like surprise downloads, and you probably don’t either, right? But other than that — I think this site is a lot of fun and as a reader, it makes me want to read the book. (That’s when design supports the goal!) For some people I imagine this is bit over-the-top, but I think it’s completely appropriate in tone and for his audience. These are the types of sites designers and developers live to have the opportunity to build. *drool*
What I love most about it: This website is just adorable. The color scheme is lively but it doesn’t get in the way of the content, it supports the subject matter nicely. Pictures of food abound and they’re really the star of the show here, the design elements are fun but they don’t get in the way. And, this is a great example of how a blog can support a book. Or is it the other way around? The site has advertising sponsors and that’s a fair trade for all of the wonderful content. It’s well-organized (again, there is a LOT of content here and making this look clean and simple is no easy feat, I assure you), and the dropdown navigation at the top is intuitive and user-friendly. Love it.
What I love most about it: This is an example of a design generating interest in a book that has yet-to-be released. The landing page makes me want to know what the heck this book is about. Absolutely stunning colors and a simplicity that makes me want to click further and find out more. Once inside, the design is elegantly simple and easy to navigate. But oh, that landing page. Delicious.
I could be here all day (good thing it’s “Friday Five” and not “Friday Fifty”) … I’m sure I’ll revisit this topic again in the near future. What are some of your favorite author sites and what do you love about them?
Have a safe weekend everyone!