by Karin Bilich
It’s the most important page on an author’s website. It’s where someone is most likely to land and then – in only three seconds – decide if they’re going to click around the site or leave. It’s your homepage.
That’s right … you have only three seconds to convince someone to stay. If they do stay, they may become a fan for life. If they don’t stay? Well, that’s one less person who may read your book and tell their friends about it. Those friends will tell their friends and so on.
Yup. That’s an important three seconds. And an important homepage.
Here are five of the most common mistakes that are made on author website homepages…
1. Too design-heavy. Look, I like an attractive website as much as the next guy. But people generally aren’t sold on a book because the website is attractive. The worst example of a site being too design-heavy is one that has a Flash intro. You most definitely do not want to make someone wait through an introduction before they can actually see your content. Think about it … Is that how you want them spending those precious three seconds? Waiting?
2. Too boring. No website should start with the words “Welcome to my website” (or even worse “web page”). When I recommend that clients write a “welcome” message for their homepage, I’m talking about something along the lines of: “Are you looking for the best _____ book you’ve ever read? You’ve come to the right place! Click around and you’ll _____, ______ and ____.” Much more interesting, right?
3. Not doing enough teasing. I like to think of an author website homepage as a tantalizing table of contents for the website. It should offer teasers on all of the content on the site, like the book excerpts, book secrets, author blog, etc… Too many authors use their homepages to serve as the place where they do one thing: for example, describe their book in full. If you use all your homepage real estate for one purpose, then you’re not taking advantage of the teaser that the page should be.
4. Too bloggish. This is a very common mistake. An author website and a blog are NOT the same thing. Now, I’m always a fan of a blog on an author website, but using the website’s homepage as the blog page is a huge mistake. There are two reasons why: 1) People arriving on the homepage may feel like they’re joining mid-conversation. That’s not very welcoming; and 2) Your most recent blog entry probably isn’t the most captivating content on the site. So, given the fact that you only have three seconds to capture someone’s attention, is a description of your most recent book signing really what you want them to see upon arrival?
5. No calls to action! You want people to actually do something on your website. Maybe you want them to buy the book. Maybe you’re hoping that they’ll give you their email address for future communications. Maybe you’d like them to share the site via Facebook. Whatever you want your visitors to do, encourage them to do it (and make it as easy as possible for them to take action). For example, don’t just tell people what the book is about, give them the links to read reviews, read excerpts, and (of course), buy the book.
Whether you already have an author website, or are considering building one, make sure you avoid these common mistakes. And, as always, feel free to contact an Infinity Publishing Author Advocate for a free consultation!
Karin has been working in web development, strategy, and copywriting since 1998. She entered the world of book publishing in 2003 when she became the Webmaster for PublishersWeekly.com, LibraryJournal.com, and SchoolLibraryJournal.com. It was there that she gained a unique perspective on book publishing, book sales, book reviews, and more. In 2005, Karin became a full-time freelancer to meet the needs of authors like you and, shortly after, created SmartAuthorSites.com. She's since worked with over 150 authors on developing websites and marketing books online, and she prides herself on personalizing each site for a specific author's needs.
Article image courtesty of LegendsWeb.