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TT #22: Web Stuff for Writers…Again

2 Jul 2008

I’ve blogged about this topic before, but I think this is something worth going over on an annual basis. Or at least until my favorite authors get their web sites up to snuff and ditch some of the bad web design I’m still seeing.

Web Stuff that Needs to Be Repeated

Number 1
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.

Number 2
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.

Number 3
Post your upcoming releases. For reason, see Number 1.

Number 4
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.

Number 5
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.

Number 6
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.

Number 7
Please don’t have non-standard link names. Not all readers will know “Bower” will take them to the bio page.

Number 8
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.

Number 9
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.

Number 10
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.

Number 11
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.

Number 12
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.

Number 13
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.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. 2 Jul 2008 3:32 PM

    Hurray! This is great, really great advice. I am so sick of the white type and the people who defend it! ARG!!

    Happy TT!

  2. gdaybloke permalink
    2 Jul 2008 4:42 PM

    You mean I could have been charging $5000 per site??

    T13 #20: Forceful Rhythms

  3. 2 Jul 2008 5:57 PM

    BRAVO!!! I love this list! Although I see at least one of these I’m guilty of (uh…top-heavy? What’s that?). I wish everyone would GET #9. Nothing makes me click away faster!

    Great 13!

  4. 2 Jul 2008 7:29 PM

    I wish the people who need this would read it! I also detest when people don’t simply have a link labeled “comments.” Those cutesy things like “put your two cents here” and all that just confuse things.

    Oh…and the music thing makes me crazy!

  5. 2 Jul 2008 7:31 PM

    Great info for writers. Happy TT:)

  6. 2 Jul 2008 8:21 PM

    Well said, All. Do you load quickly? seems always to be the big question. If you can do that, you can do what you want!

  7. 3 Jul 2008 9:36 PM

    gdaybloke – What’s scarier is there are people who pay that ridiculous fee!

    Carol – A top-heavy site is when the top banner is so big it takes up most of the screen space.

    Sandy – That is an excellent point. I don’t know how many sites I’ve clicked away from because it didn’t load within 60 seconds.

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