#BlogTip: An Author Website Checklist – JeriWB Word Bank

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Blogging tips

 

Author/editor Jeri Walker has a great post for writers with a complete checklist of what your blog/website should have to make it most efficient for readers to navigate.

 

In the search for potential editing clients, I visit a lot of websites. That effort has culminated as an author website checklist. It never ceases to amaze me how many authors don’t provide a way to get in touch, whether via a contact form or an email address. That’s just the tip of the iceberg though. In this day and age, an appealing and user-friendly website is a must. As an author, you might not be a tech guru, but that’s not an excuse for a lackluster website. I am by no means an expert in web design, but the information provided here can serve to light a fire toward whipping your website into shape.

 

An Author Website Checklist

This post serves as an author website checklist with helpful links added where appropriate. The five main categories progress from the macro to the micro level to reflect how users typically engage with content. This is not a how-to list. Rather, this list can help pinpoint areas you may need to improve on your author website, whether by learning how to do it yourself or by hiring a webmaster to do it for you. Many pressing issues can be alleviated by starting with a professionally designed theme. Word Bank has used the Nexus theme from Elegant Themes for a couple of years now, and I have been pleased.

 

Visual Presentation

At first glance, the visual appeal of the blog appears to complement its intended message. A new visitor can quickly surmise the site’s main focus. This author website checklist for visual presentation includes:

 

First Impression: How inviting does the site appear? Does it seem too bland or too busy? Does the design fit the your primary genre?

Dates: Is the content consistently dated or undated? Formatted for target country?

Mobile-Friendly: Is the site optimized for viewing on SmartPhone and tablets?

Pop-Ups: If an automatic opt-in box comes up, how distracting is it? Does it appear right away? In what location?

Colors: Are the colors used purposely? Do they complement each other or seem jarring?

Blog Name: What is the blog’s name? Is it different from the URL? Does it feature the author’s name?

Tagline: Does the tagline sufficiently hint at the purpose of the blog and its niche? Is the author’s genre alluded to?

Logo: How memorable is the site’s logo image? Does it have one?

Font Size and Type: Is the typeface large enough and dark enough to easily read? In general, black text on a light background is best for readability.

Theme Width: Is the main post area fairly wide, or is it too narrow?

Background: If an image, is it distracting in any way? Is it solid or transparent?

Landing Page: Does the choice of a dynamic or a static landing page seem appropriate? Is the author’s book(s) featured in a prominent spot?

Sidebar Widgets: Purposeful or distracting? Does the size seem right?

Ads and Affiliate Links: If present, are they relevant? Easy to read? Placed logically?

 

Organization and Ease of Navigation

The content is laid out in a logical way that anticipates the user’s needs. If appropriate, information can be accessed from more than one location. This author website checklist for organization and ease of navigation includes:

 

Overall: Does the organization fit reader expectations? Does the content fit the structure? Could plug-ins, widgets, and images be bogging your site down?

Menus: Readable, clickable, brief text? Appropriate location? Top? Bottom? Sidebar?

Most Recent Post: Is it featured so the reader can easily identify it? If not, could readers get discouraged by trying to locate it from various categories?

Pages: Does each have a clear purpose and complete info? Could any be condensed? As an author website, there should be a page for books, about, contact, and appearances and publications.

Excerpts: Do posts on the main page appear by excerpt only with a “read more” link? Otherwise, a new reader has to scroll through too much information in order to quickly surmise the site.

Follow Buttons: Are social media buttons displayed? Do they open in a new window?

Search Box: Present an accessible? Do searches go quickly or does the site slow down?

Sign-Up Forms: Are email subscription forms in place and in easy to see locations?

Contact Form: Is the form present in the sidebar or a separate page? Does it work?

Sharing Buttons: Is it easy to share the page? Does the author’s Twitter handle show when the user opts to tweet the post or page?

Commenting Ease: How user-friendly is the comment process? Does the user have to sign up for a commenting services, or can comments be made in a commenting section native to the website in question?

Subscribe to Comments: Can commenters receive email notifications to follow the discussion? Is a box automatically checked to subscribe to new blogs posts? Please be aware it’s better practice to let potential new readers check that box rather than setting it to be pre-checked. Continue reading . . .

 

Source: #BlogTip: An Author Website Checklist – JeriWB Word Bank

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59 Comments

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  1. Excellent information. Thank you <3

  2. Fortunately, I can tic many of the boxes in this helpful checklist. I just added a Google translate button. Although most blog readers can speak English, I like the idea that they have the option to select their own language.

    My website is a work in progress, so I’m still working out the wrinkles. Great post, Debby thanks! 🙂

    1. Oh, I know you’ve been upgrading your website for awhile now Marian. You’re doing a great job too! 🙂

  3. Hi Debbie and Jeri – what a really useful set of tips and site to be aware of – great help .. or will be – I’ve made a note to keep and refer back to … cheers to you both – Hilary

    1. HI Hilary. So glad you find this useful. And just a note: I signed up to follow your blog and have read some of your posts, but your blog won’t allow me to comment. 🙁

  4. Great list, Debby. My site doesn’t have my name, and changing it is something I think about now and then. So far, I’ve let it stand. Hmm. 😀

    1. Thanks Diana. Some food for thought here. 🙂

  5. These sort of characteristics are so important. I routinely review my blog to see where it’s gotten stale, out of date, or messed up somehow. Thanks for this!

    1. Welcome Jacqui. A handy checklist. 🙂

    1. Thanks Sal. <3 xx

  6. Omg, I’ll have to set aside an entire day to go through this list! Aside from that contact form 🙂 I thought my website was in pretty good shape; but now I’m not sure. Thanks for posting this, Deb. See you on the other side 🙂 ❤

    1. LOL T. Sorry to scare you with more work, lol. But it is Halloween! Boo! 🙂 <3 xx

      1. Boo! back at ya, girlfriend 🙂 ♥

        1. So scary. 🙂 🙂 xx

  7. Great tips, thanks for passing this along, Deb!

    1. Thanks Terri. Jeri’s blog has some great articles. I hope you check her out. 🙂

  8. Very timely and some great tips..have bookmarked, pinned and tweeted 🙂

    1. Thanks bunches Carol. 🙂 x

  9. Thanks for much for sharing the checklist I came up with. I’m always continually surprised by how many author websites I come across that don’t have any form of contact information. i’ve since switched to the Divi theme offered by Elegant themes. It comes with a huge learning curve, but I’m pleased with the results. The one thing I still need to tackle on my site is why the caching plugins I’ve tried won’t work. A quick loading speed for a site is crucial.

    1. Thanks for sharing that info here too Jeri. Thrilled to share this. I tend to collect great articles and save them in draft to reblog at a later date. 🙂 x

  10. Fantastic tips to share, Debby. Thank you! 🙂

    1. Thanks Natalie. Glad you find it useful. 🙂 x

  11. A grim reminder to update my own website and blog. There’s just so much to do and so little time! 🙂 Great tips!

    1. Thanks Carol. Man. do I hear you. 🙂 xx

  12. This is a great post, Deb – very helpful!

    1. Thanks John. Glad you found it helpful too. 🙂

  13. Good stuff. If it isn’t presented well, a blog’s great content could be wasted effort!

    1. So true John, and especially if it’s difficult to navigate. 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing Stevie 🙂 x

  14. Great tips, Debby! I’m bookmarking this for future reference.

    1. Glad you found it useful Michelle 🙂 x

  15. GREAT checklist – many thanks to BOTH of you for sharing it. Pinned to my Blogs and Bloggers Board.
    xx, mgh

    1. Thanks so much M. Glad to be hanging on your Pinterest board, lol. 🙂 <3

      1. And I’m glad to have it there, Deb! 🙂
        xx, mgh

  16. That’s quite a checklist, Debby. It’s easy to answer ‘yes, yes, yes,’ to all the questions, but we really need someone else to tell us about their experiences with our blogs and websites, don’t we. Thanks for sharing this post. It’s really useful.

    1. So glad you found it informative Norah. I know I did and when I find good stuff around that can help other writers, you know I’m sharing it. 🙂 x

      1. You’re very generous with your shares, Debby. We can all benefit from your generosity, and learn from it, too. <3

        1. Thanks Norah. That was so kind of you to say. 🙂 xx

          1. And truthful! 🙂

  17. Yes, this post gave us bloggers a lot to think about. I have most of the boxes checked off, but like Diana says, I don’t have my name on my blog nor easy email accessibility. I wonder if I should do that?

    1. Glad you found this helpful Pam. When I began on WP I had a different name for my blog too. But after I published my first book I changed the name to my writing name and moved to self-hosted. Having our name on our blog is helpful for when people search for us on the web, if they type in our name, our blog comes up. Food for thought. 🙂 x

      1. Excellent point…

  18. This is truly valuable information especially for writers since occasionally they don’t have their writing name in their blog name listed with their gravatar. (I can think of two who I love dearly!) Thanks for sharing Jeri’s blog post, my dear! xo 💐

    1. Thanks for reading Robin. I’m glad you found this post helpful as many seem to have also. 🙂 <3

  19. Great list of items. Thanks for sharing, Debby!

    1. Thanks Liesbet. 🙂

  20. Great article, made me realise I have some major issues to fix on my blog. xxx

    1. Glad you found this helpful Adele. I think many of us can find things to improve on too. 🙂 <3

  21. There certainly is a lot to consider for a website and then there’s just starting to write the posts for it (not to mention photos, links, etc.). Jeri provides a wealth of information for bloggers of any experience level to keep in mind. Great share, Debby

    1. Thanks so much Christy. Yes, there sure is a lot. But it’s a great guideline to use when we get the chance to do all we can to run our blogs at their best. 🙂 xx

  22. This is helpful, and I agree with all the suggestions.There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to find blog posts easily from a landing page. And I don’t like busy backgrounds, or white text on black. Or having to scroll through long blog posts to find the most recent ones. All good!

    1. Lol, thanks for sharing your list of likes Molly. But I do agree with you on all counts. 🙂

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