Web Stuff that Needs to Be Repeated
Update your web site! Pretty please. Once every two years is insufficient. Some of us need to know when the next book is coming out well in advance–or, sometimes, at all–so we can book a day off to enjoy it.
Post your backlist. Not every reader will have been with you since day one. Make it easy for the rest of us to catch up. Even if it’s out-of-print, we still want to know about it.
Post your upcoming releases. For reason, see Number 1.
Serif fonts–the fonts with the little flourishes at the end to help the eye travel to the next word–should be used for print ONLY. For the web, since screen resolution is not as high as print, stick to sans serif fonts because serif fonts tend to blur together, making it difficult to read. The most popular fonts for the web are Arial and Verdana. The latter was created specifically for web use.
You might write dark and moody paranormals, but please realize light text on dark backgrounds hurts the eyes. They are inherently less readable than dark text on light backgrounds and must be avoided.
Make it easy to identify links and let readers know when their mouse is hovering over them. Don’t make them have to run the mouse all over the screen in search of links. And, most importantly, do NOT underline non-linked text. That’s very misleading and annoying.
Please don’t have non-standard link names. Not all readers will know “Bower” will take them to the bio page.
Please avoid Flash and other fancy animation software. They’re annoying and unless it’s a gaming site targeted at tweens and geeks who must have the latest and greatest, assume your readers are the average web surfers who probably don’t have high-speed Internet access or all the required plug-ins.
Please kill the music. Not everyone is a Celine Dion fan. However, if you must, please give your readers the option to shut it off.
Please step away from the frames. Like the 80s, we want to forget they existed. They’re evil and clumsy. Bookmarking doesn’t work properly, causing problems when readers try to return to the site. And if readers enter a framed page, navigation might be missing because it is located in another frame.
Top-heavy sites (i.e. sites with really big header banners) don’t annoy most readers, but someone as lazy as I am won’t like having to scroll down half the page to see the first line of text.
Please don’t have everything on one page. It’s like using only one room in your house for everything. Even so-call one-room flats keep the bathroom separate.
If a web designer is charging you $5000/year to maintain your web site, you’re being ripped off. If a web designer says making minor updates to your web site takes an hour, it’s time to hire someone else or do it yourself. It’s easy. All you need is a half decent graphics program and Notepad. Seriously.