Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Top Five Simple Steps You Can Do To Improve Your Website

I'm learning that if you want to be seen as a professional writer, you need to have a professional appearance online, which means your website needs to be too. As part of having an author platform, your website and blog plays a critical role; it's your business card, your public relations director and its your billboard all in one.

It needs to be and look professional because people will judge it (and you) all in less time than you can say "wait! don't go!!!" Also, if its not well designed guess what? You just lost a potential sale. Already two strikes!

People in this day and age have come to demand and expect certain things when surfing the web and if we can't keep up, they'll just move on to the next thing that captures their brief attention span. They have the ability to process a lot of information very quickly and filter things out just as fast till they find what they want.

Sadly, up till yesterday, that was me and my website. When you came to my page, you were hit with spam... my books plastered for all to see with little reason to buy them. I had my covers larger than life and the links to buy them but little else. Honestly, I didn't know what my website was for; what purpose did it serve? It turns out for the last 8 months, it's been hurting me and I didn't realize it.

I didn't know better but it was because I wasn't educated on how to do it right. That's okay because this is all a learning process.

It's all part of this journey and its okay to make mistakes as long as we learn from the lesson presented. I saw what I had and decided I needed to change it so I did.

Here's what I've learned...

1.) People don't always come through the front door of your website. Thanks to search engines people can discover you through many of your other pages and links.

What does this mean? It means that every page should look as good as your front page or landing page because for the person whose just seeing you for the first time, that is their front page.

2.) Have a banner that tells your visitors what your site is about.

What does this mean? It means that your name, who you are (Your Brand) and what you offer should be easily seen within the first four seconds. Take for instance my new banner:

Right off the bat, it tells you who I am, shows you a nice photo, tells you that I'm a writer in the paranormal/fantasy and young adult genre along with a tagline "Let me tell you a story..."

It sets up the visitor to know they are welcomed here and that maybe my stories will appeal to them... all in less than 4 seconds.

I'm not saying my way is the right way or is how you should do it but it's merely a suggestion and the reasoning behind it. You can make your site and banner look any way you want. In fact, if you have a better way, share it with us in the comments section below.

3.) Your site should be easy to navigate.Believe it or not, this is the most crucial step people forget when making their web pages.

What does that mean?  It means that no matter what page the person visiting your website is on, they should be able to find the buttons or links to the most important things they probably want to know. One of them should be the Contact Me button. People like to feel a connection with their authors and sometimes want to email them or ask them a question. Another one is the BUY or STORE button. If they are at your site, they like who you are and your sales pitch, now would be a great time to show them where they can buy your book. If you leave them hanging, having to search for where your books are for sale (or if you make it too complicated) they will leave your site frustrated.

4.) Sign up for my newsletter! - One of the most neglected but most important thing to have on your website.

What does that mean?  Repeat after me: "You want to have a newsletter signup link" Why? Because it's a numbers game. Let's pretend you've slowly built up your email contacts list to several hundred (or several thousand). They signed up because they are interested in what you have to offer. If you tell them "Hey, this Friday I'm going to sell my NEW book "Blah" for a certain amount (usually .99 cents) on Amazon but it's only a 24 or 48 hour sale! Be sure to get it this weekend! (Give them enough warning time/heads up). Come Friday, Amazon will see a surge of people buying your book(s) and that will cause Amazon to boost your ranking which in turn exposes you to thousands of potential buyers who will also see your book. It's a snowball effect and had you not told your followers (fans) when to go, nothing would have happened. (Think of it like a Flash Mob on Amazon.)

5.) Less Is More. 

What does that mean? It means that if you don't have a lot of clutter on your website, people are able to see the posts and images you want them to see. People like simple, clean and clutter free sites. Look at Google's home page. It's a simple white page, with its name and a search bar and that's pretty much it. Simple and to the point. The same goes for flashing icons, gifs, etc. If people want to see that, they'll go to MySpace.

There you have it, 5 simple steps you can do to improve your website. If you would like to share your own tips, please leave a comment below and as always, thanks for reading.  :-)

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