The 30 Scariest Author Website Mistakes And How To Fix Them

From Bad Redhead Media:

I recently had the pleasure of taking part in the Wednesday evening #BookMarketingChat hosted by BadRedhead Media. Our topic was easy updates to refresh your author website. To prepare for the chat, I visited the sites of several writers, including those who have left comments here in the past. I figured I would snoop around and find out what kind of slips the average writer is making with this vital part of their online platform.

My verdict? As a community, we need to pull our socks up if we want to show our readers we value their website visits and respect their time. I saw too many websites that were dated in design, neglected in content, or both.

According to a Stanford University study, 75% of users admit to making judgments about a company’s credibility based on their website design. Readers will lose trust in your professionalism and the quality of your work if you can’t present a reasonably spiffy website to the world.

Since it’s October and Halloween is fast approaching, here are the 30 website mistakes I consider the scariest, in terms of turning your reader off. I’ll start with the ones I saw on multiple websites that are easiest to fix.

Dated items, which show how long you’ve neglected your website. For example:

  1. Blog post dates
  2. A book page which announces a title is “Coming Spring 2018”
  3. An events page with nothing forthcoming or recent
  4. Copyright year not current

. . . .

 Links to social media accounts that you no longer use. Watch out in particular for an icon advertising Google Plus, which shut down 6 months ago!

. . . .

Cluttered sidebars. Sidebars are a magnet for outdated distractions, for example: tag clouds, tiny photos of your followers, or badges for everywhere you’ve ever been featured. A little social proof is important, but too much looks desperate.

. . . .

No “About” page, and/or no contact information. Even if you’re writing with a pen name, you should still give visitors some context to connect with. Your readers want to get to know you, not just your work.

. . . .

Unless you’re using a free service, you don’t have to declare which theme you’re using, or that you’re powered by WordPress. Professionally designed websites don’t do this, so you needn’t either.

Link to the rest at Bad Redhead Media


11 thoughts on “The 30 Scariest Author Website Mistakes And How To Fix Them”

  1. Going to the OP, I’ll add rolling and attention grabbing ads.

    “No “About” page, and/or no contact information. Even if you’re writing with a pen name, you should still give visitors some context to connect with. Your readers want to get to know you, not just your work.”

    Ah, no, a writer doesn’t need their book rejected by a reader because of who they think should be in what office or whether Amazon is good or bad. (How out of the loop is the OP that they haven’t noticed the ‘woke’ crowd going after anything and anyone that doesn’t think like they do?)

    What’s that old joke about someone offering you advise because they aren’t using it? 😉

    • You can try hiding behind a fictitious identity – but, if you truly offend the new fascists, you will be doxxed anyway.

      Myself, I don’t have to worry about an employer (unless I develop a split personality).

      My target audience is more likely to buy my stuff because the “woke” hate me.

      If they want to throw tantrums, well, I raised three children; those do not impress.

      Violent action will be met with corresponding counteraction.

  2. Well, just having started to read the full article – there are actually 31 scary mistakes. The last one must be for Halloween night – scrolling garbage on the sidebar!

    I’ll grab the OP into something else to eliminate the distraction from what she is actually trying to say.

    • > scrolling garbage

      Anything that moves, reloads, or fades in and out… and unless I have a really good reason to stay, I’m gone.

      I realize people who are used to that sort of thing don’t even *see* it, but it’s too annoying for me to put up with.

  3. Not giving up my sidebar!

    I like it for a progress bar for my WIP, for another navigation menu (when the top and bottom ones are out of sight), for a newsletter sign-up, and for a selection of my book covers (with links).

      • True, but PG’s sidebar isn’t in constant motion trying to derail your attention from what’s being said. 😉

      • I’m pretty much hooked on a sidebar.

        I think it’s impossible to effectively explore a big website without one. I like being able to see all the options instead of only a hierarchical tree arrangement.

        • I have no problem with the sidebar here, PG. Never actually look at it ;-). And having the Theme name showing is also a non-issue for me.

          Personally, I think a main concern with TPV, PG, may be that it’s non-“responsive”. Not so much for me (I view on desktop) but maybe for others. But maybe I’m wrong. I just like the content.

          • I can’t recall ever looking at the sidebar, and I’ve certainly never clicked on it.

            Not as bad as the dirt-colored stripes on each side, which suck up screen space while squeezing the text down into a narrow column…

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