When was the last time you carefully analyzed your author website?
Not as its owner, but as a user. You might be surprised by how hard (or easy) your website is to use.
Although website visitors needs constantly change, the urge to easily access a website, get quality information and perform specific tasks within the site easily never changes. Keeping your author website up to date using modern technologies is therefore necessary in order to retain current visitors and also attract new users.
If your website has remained unchanged for a long time, it might be time for a redesign. But how can you know if a website redesign is
necessary? Here are 12 hints.
1. Your indie author website cannot be easily viewed using a mobile device
Pick up your smart phone and try to access your author website. Can you easily scroll through a page? If not, it might be time for a mobile friendly, responsive design.
There are two main reasons why you should have a mobile friendly website.
First, the number of people accessing the internet using mobile devices surpassed that using desktops in late 2016. If your site isn’t easily accessible from a mobile device, you’re missing out on traffic and potential revenue.
Second, mobile friendly design is one of Google’s ranking factors. Simply put, mobile friendly websites rank higher in search results therefore getting a higher amount of traffic.
2. Unusually high bounce rates
Bounce rate is a term used to describe website visitors leaving your site without navigating to more than one page. This is an indicator that the visitors aren’t actually finding what they need on your site. Another reason for high bounce rate is a slowly loading web page.
An easy way to get a clear picture about your sites bounce rate is through your Google analytics account. Other metrics you can find here include average pages per visit, conversion rate and average session duration.
3. Low conversions
How well do your landing pages and copy convert visitors into subscribers or even buyers? Your ultimate goal is to get visitors to take a specific action when they visit your author site. If an unusually high number of visitors leave your site without taking that action, your site is in trouble.
Start by visiting your Analytics account and set goals if you haven’t done so yet. A goal can be as simple as downloading a preview of your upcoming book in exchange for an email address or even placing an order for your book. Doing this allows Google Analytics track these goals and give a detailed report on conversion rates.
Poor conversions might results from different factors such as high bounce rates, poor copy or poor site layout.
4. Use of outdated or user unfriendly technology
If your site still uses static HTML or flash. It’s time for a redesign. Today’s websites are dynamic, easy to use and accessible using different browsers. Flash in particular must never be used on a modern website due to the fact that many browsers do not support it. Other technologies you must avoid are splash pages and pop-up ads as website users usually associate them with ads leading to a high bounce rate.
5. Web pages load too slow
Today’s average website user expects a web page to load within 2 seconds or less. If a web page takes longer than this, it can result in increased bounce rates. Search engines also tend to favor web pages that load faster ranking them higher in search results.
How fast a web page loads depends in a number of factors which include using too many and large image files, the page making too many HTTP calls to the server, lack of caching among others.
Testing page speeds can be done using a number of free online tools such as Google Test My Site, Google PageSpeed Insights and YSlow browser extension.
6. The design doesn’t match the site goals
Site design plays a huge role on whether a visitor will take a specific action or not. The websites design should help promote your brand. It should also take into account your target market and industry. For example, if your target market is parents looking for children’s books, the site design and elements like colors, images and fonts should be bright, simple and fun. The parent should easily associate your site design with children’s books rather than a science fiction novel.
7. Inconsistent look and feel throughout the site
As you move from one web page to another in your author site, does it feel like you’re in the same website? The look and feel of your website plays a huge role in branding. Things like colors, fonts, images, placement of menus must remain consistent throughout the website. If there are
inconsistencies, you should consider a redesign.
8. Use of outdated content
Information is constantly changing. If you want to be viewed as an expert and professional indie author, keeping readers updated with new
information is necessary. Regularly updated websites are looked upon favorably by search engines. Your readers will only come back to your site if they believe you have new and relevant information for them. It’s therefore important that you regularly update your site.
Check out the type of content your major competitors are publishing on their websites. Consider factors such as form, length and tone of the content. This should give you an idea about what your target audience is actively seeking online.
9. It’s hard to update website content
Do you often have to deal with code or even hire a web developer to add new content to your website? Then your site is in dire need for a redesign. Thanks to Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress and Joomla, it’s now quite easy to update your website any time you want. The best part is that you don’t need to deal with code and publishing new content takes lesser time.
10. Search engines don’t rank your website for specific terms
There are many reasons why your website won’t show up for specific search terms. Some such as not being mobile friendly and high bounce rate have been mentioned. Overall, low search engine visibility might mean that the site design hasn’t taken Search Engine Optimization into account. A web
redesign with SEO in mind might help to reverse this.
11. Negative customer feedback
Not sure whether your author website design negatively affects how users interact with your site? Simply ask users about their experience when using your website. User feedback can be helpful if you’re on a budget and don’t want to do a complete website redesign.
For example, many users might point out that your site should accept more payment methods. Rather than change the whole site, all you might require is integrate your shopping cart with additional payment processors.
12. Other indie authors are doing something you aren’t on their websites
Look at other indie author websites. What web design elements are they using that you aren’t? Think of often missed elements like using social media share buttons, SSL certificates or even use of a small form on important pages to collect email addresses. Leading authors are probably using these elements on their sites because they work. A web redesign job will help integrate these elements to your site.
Authors often overlook the fact that their website design plays a huge role in building their brand, getting and retaining a loyal following and ranking high in search engines. Your website should constantly evolve to meet current user needs and technological changes. Using the hints provided above, it should now be easier to know whether your site needs a complete redesign, or small changes which can have a huge impact on your writing career. An author website redesign can also make it easier to focus on your writing rather than worry about dealing with a web developer every time you want to post something.
Contact us if you need help redesigning your author website, and feel free to comment below!