Monday, 29 February 2016

Three Decisions to Make Before Building Your Author Website

By Iola Goulton

Last week we looked at determining your genre.If you've got that nailed down, you're ready to think about what colours and fonts are consistent with your genre and author brand. 

1. Decide your colour scheme.

The problem with picking a colour is you’re not at school any more. You have more than the standard twelve colours of crayon on offer at school (although you might have been one of the lucky kids to have Crayola crayons with 64 colours).

No, now you have an almost unlimited choice (well, somewhere around 16,700,000 if I’ve calculated correctly).

Colour should reflect your genre: black and red probably aren’t the best choices for a contemporary romance author. (Which is why we looked at genre first!)

How do you choose? What colours go together?

Don’t worry. Canva.com has some blog posts which will give you some good ideas around possible colour combinations:


2. Pick your fonts.

Fonts are both easier and more difficult to pick than colours. Sure, there are less than 16,700,000 choices, but you have to choose two, or maybe even three.

You need an easy-to-read font for your body text, and another font for your headings (perhaps more than one, as you can have several levels of headings and subheadings). You can be a little more creative with this choice, but it still needs to be consistent with your genre and author brand.

Canva and Elegant Themes have some excellent blog posts on font choices:


As you look through the font lists, you’ll see a lot you don’t like, some you like but which aren’t right for your brand, and (hopefully) a smaller number of appropriate font choices. Then you need to thing about which two or three fonts you can use together. Here are three useful resources on font pairings:


It can be tempting to stick with the tried-and-true Arial or Times New Roman fonts, perhaps because it’s hard to decide on a font (guilty! Australasian Christian Writers uses Arial). But some of these fonts are best avoided.

3. Decide on your platform

Website design has come a long way from the days when people had to speak html as a second language in order to be able to develop a website. Now there are a variety of free and paid options that mean even the least tech-savvy person can set up a website.

The main options are Blogger (which this site is based on) and WordPress. Two less common options are Weebly and Wix. All have free and paid options, with the paid options allowing you to use a custom domain name (i.e. www.iolagoulton.com rather than www.christianreads.blogspot.com).

Blogger (powered by Google) is probably the easiest to use, especially if you’re not especially tech-savvy. You can plug and play with one of the standard Blogger templates, or add some customisation if you’re feeling adventurous and tech-savvy.

Wordpress.org (the paid version) has a huge range of themes and plugins you can use to customise your site, but most people would need the assistance of a web designer to undertake any customisation. The advantage of using a Wordpress-based site is that it’s designed to be a website not just a blog, so the finished product looks a lot more professional.

I haven’t used Weebly or Wix, so can’t comment on how easy they are to use (can you?).

Conclusion

So those are the three decisions you need to make before beginning work on your author website. I’ll be back next week with the three pages you need on your author website, and two optional pages (they’re not what you think!).

Meanwhile, what questions do you have that you’d like me to address in these posts?



About Iola Goulton

I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website (www.christianediting.co.nz), or follow me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/christianediting), Twitter (@IolaGoulton) or Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/iolasreads).

16 comments:

  1. I would pick your platform first as, on most platforms, the colours and fonts can be changed with changing templates :)

    I use self-hosted Wordpress, it came free with my host. I also find Wordpress easier than Blogger, so for authors who are going to do their own sites, it's worth playing around to find the platform that suits them.

    Great points here to help authors get started.

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    1. Picking colours and fonts is relatively easy, in that you don't need to be technical to do it. You just need to have an idea of your genre and what colours/styles might appeal to your target reader. That's why I suggested starting with colour.

      But you raise a good point, Melissa, especially as not all fonts are available on all platforms. It makes sense to pick your platform first and theme first, then pick your fonts and colours from those available (as not all themes/templates are fully customisable for colours or fonts. I dismissed several attractive themes as the available colours weren't right for me).

      There are hundreds of themes to choose from, which can make this difficult as well - what to look for in a theme is probably a whole post in itself, and beyond my technical know-how!

      So the list in order of activities would be:

      1. Decide on your platform
      2. Choose a theme
      3. Decide on your colour scheme
      4. Pick your font/s

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    2. I would say that theme colour and fonts are just garnishing. Besides that, you should think about the content as well. What kind of site would you like - static or blog? If blog, what approach would you take - niche or non-niche? ;) I'm a big fan of website building so i can go on and on and on ... sorry!

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  2. Thanks, Iola--good, practical help. I now use Weebly and, while my daughter, who is a lot more 'tech-savvy' than I am, set it up for me and will do any major changes, I can easily change various bits of information on it myself. We like it!

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    1. Good to hear Weebly is easy to use, Jo-Anne. Nice site!

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  3. Some great points Iola. I agree with Melissa that choosing your platform, then looking at the themes that are available (and which bits you can customarise) would be a natural progression. The number of Word Press themes is almost overwhelming - and there are both fee and paid options.

    I use Wordpress.org with my own domain names and while there is a learning curve, it is a lot more versatile than blogger - with heaps of plug-ins and widgets as well as built in features. There are also many great blogposts and you-tubes that can walk one through how to install and customize one's website.

    I haven't used Wix or Weebley but I have used Tumblr which is very easy to set up, akin to Blogger - but with more appeal to a younger target audience.

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    1. I agree that the number of Wordpress themes is almost overwhelming! I bought a subscription to Elegant Themes (mostly because they have some nice plugins). They have a mere 87 themes to choose from, and that was still too many.

      Yes, the big advantage of Wordpress is what goes with it - the plugins, widgets and how-to videos. It's relatively easy to take a common theme and make it look completely original.

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    2. Not only that, you need to make sure that those themes come from a reputable source or else they could seriously screw up your website or have holds that allow malware and hackers in.

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    3. Elizabeth, I learned that the hard way on my previous site where I got hacked though one of my plugins. That showed me why it's important to update themes and plugins promptly.

      I've had no problems with Elegant Themes plugins, or with the Make theme I'm using (both of which came recommended by others).

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  4. Those really are great pointers. I'm one of the least tech savvy people to be found, and blogger suits me very nicely. Early this year, my husband had a go at designing a little website for me using wix. Even though he's more tech savvy than me, it really only took him the best part of a day to get the basic stuff right, and we were quite impressed. I can't put the direct link since I'm out with my IPad, but anybody who wants to check it out will find the link up beneath the header of my blog.

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    1. Very nice - a bit of a dark feel, which suits the themes you explore in several of your novels.
      http://andrewvince.wix.com/paula-vince

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  5. Thanks Iola. My website is my next project so your thoughts will come in handy. I intend to use self-hosting Wordpress as I've heard it is more secure. A friend was hacked while doing things the other way...

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    1. Self-hosted Wordpress might be more secure, but can still have problems. My self-hosted site was hacked through one of the plugins.

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    2. You can get hacked either way, unfortunately, Sue. But I was self-hosted for years and years and was hacked so many times I lost count. If it's not the plugins, it's the updates, if it's not that, it's some bored hacker trying to get his rocks off. In the end I went for Squarespace before a) it's like Apple, less common so does not attract as many hackers b) great support system c) they do the backend stuff for you - such as updates plugins etc. It realy depends on what you want. If you want full control over your content you should try self-hosted, but be aware of the work involved and get a web developer on your speed dial. Eventually you will need him. Otherwise, you can DIY like I do, but I hate going through reams of code. ;) If you wanna write in peace, do choose your platform carefully. Wrote more about this here: http://www.elizabethtai.com/blog/why-i-moved-from-wordpress-to-squarespace

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    3. But Squarespace uses Disqus doesn't it? Your current website? I have so much trouble commenting that I've given up. We need something secure and readily accessible!

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  6. I'm a Weebly girl, too. And find it so easy.

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