For an author, I spend an inordinate amount of thinking about other authors' websites. In fact, I spend about half my day making other writers look good. That’s my afternoon gig, at AuthorBytes, where I assist in the multifaceted process that delivers an engaging and professional online presence to our more than 500 clients. AuthorBytes founder, Steve Bennett, was nice enough to pinch hit for me today at the Stiletto Gang, sharing his expertise and insight on what defines an excellent website. Thanks, Steve! Oh, and you can always visit me at lauraspinella.net
By Steve Bennett
“What makes for a good author website?” prospective clients often ask me.
There are the obvious elements: A good author website should be like a grand hotel room. The location of every amenity and necessity should be obvious and easy to find. It should be engaging for book buyers and media friendly–a one-stop go-to spot that can give reporters and producers all the information they need. Elegant design and a little razzle dazzle never hurts either.
But let’s go beyond the wrapper. What about the soul of a great site? That’s the real differentiator. And that’s a much more difficult element to articulate than design and information architecture.
For insight into the matter, I turned to a gym buddy of mine, Pharame (pronounced "farmee," who’s known throughout the health club I frequent as an expert on the human soul. He’s also a testament to the fortune of good genes and the wisdom of a good workout routine – at 64, he sports a body that most 24-year-olds would die for.
Since Pharame’s not a web guy, I asked him a general question that I knew would be within his bailiwick: “Why are we here?”
He laughed, slapped me on the back in a friendly gesture that nonetheless knocked the wind out of me, then boomed, “Stevie! You are born naked and you die naked. In between, it’s YOUR story. So tell it WELL.”
No one ever nailed it better.
A good author website IS your story.
And telling it WELL is about using technology, words, and images to have a conversation with your site visitors in an oh so brief span of time. It’s about voice–talking “to,” rather than “at,” your audience, just as you would in a good radio interview. It’s about intimacy–revealing what motivates you and what makes you tick as a writer. It’s about credibility–conveying your authority while keeping your ego in check. And it’s about humility–respecting your viewers’ time and being grateful for the fact that there are hundreds of millions of websites they could be visiting, Make their visit memorable; let your site tell your story.
When Pharame made his eye-opening statement, he was speaking universally—a life affirming comment about why we are here. He spoke with authority. As an author, it’s your goal to do the same. It’s your story, so tell it well.