[Hey there–before we start, have you followed 10 new people yet?]
Bringing that website home
Welcome to Day 5!
Today we are going to apply your brand to your website. We’ll start with your homepage.
Tell me you have a website. If not, you’ll start today! A great starter guide is here by the lovely Jane Friedman. Worth reviewing even if you’ve had a site for a while.
Let’s tidy up the house so we are proud when company comes over. We’re first looking at your home page because you only get one chance to make a first impression. No major changes yet, just taking notes at what people see, and asking if it’s the best projection of your brand. Grab that notebook.
Go to your homepage:
Open your website. View it with fresh eyes, as if you were someone that doesn’t know you, and is there for the first time. As far as the big picture, do you see a clear author brand? Would a stranger see it? Is your site a visual mess, or is it a place someone would want to stay and linger? Take notes on what needs to change overall. Does it need to be friendlier or more welcoming? Is it clear you’re an author or illustrator? Maybe it’s too focused on YOU and not what you can do for the reader <um, guilty>.
Now take closer inventory. What is the first specific thing people see and feel? Take notes on the following:
- When someone sees it, do they get an immediate sense of who you are?
- Perhaps more importantly, is it welcoming to the point people want to stay?
- Does it represent the current you, and your brand?
- Are the colors right? Is font readable? Do you have enough whitespace?
- Is it current? As in, when was your last post or update? How would they know?
- How old is your bio pic? Be honest with yourself here.
- Is every subheading correct, necessary, and relevant?
- Do you have clearly marked Contact info and links to social media?
Now get to work.
RIGHT AWAY, get working on anything in those notes that can be done in under five minutes. Document any work you still need done. Give yourself a deadline to complete it. Even if you end up needing to push the deadline out, give yourself one. Trust me (and science!), it is more likely to happen when you hold yourself accountable by being SMART (remember–Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.) Don’t have time to add the icons and links to all your social media platforms today? Write down you’ll figure out how to do it by Friday the 5th and complete it by Saturday May 6th.
If editing a website is above your pay grade, contact someone today with SPECIFICS on what you would like them to do for you. Not “help me with my homepage” but “change the colors on the homepage, update my contact info, and remove this image.” Give them a (reasonable) deadline too – or at least a timeframe. Ask a teen to help in exchange for a Starbucks.
I just got done assessing my homepage, and FWIW this is what I realized:
- My colors were too juvenile so I changed them
- I hate the random, ugly ads that are generated in the free version of WordPress that I use, so did what I’ve been thinking about doing for years: upgraded to the no-ad version. Not saying you need to! Just something I’ve wanted to do and finally did, whew. Glad I did.
- “Upcoming Events” list was waaay too long. I shortened it and put stuff from 2020 on a diff page.
- The “long version” of my bio was, well, too long so I pared it down (it’s still too long, but progress…).
- My homepage is still too self-serving and not enough “what’s in it for you to be here” so I am working on that.
- I realized my tagline, held over from when I spent more time marketing than writing, feels dated, so I edited it.
- While my formatting skills are horrendous, I cleaned it up a little bit at the bottom (it’s still terrible but it’s good enough for now. I added it to my To Do list to fix later.)
- I added a “subscribe” button in the top right column — please sign up so you get emails on each daily task! (It’s now on the top right of every page)
I had time and was able to handle all of it within about an hour.
Now it’s your turn.
Recap: Take a birds-eye view of your homepage. What needs updating, changing revising? Take note (literally) of larger things To Do and change what you can right now.
Let me know how it shakes out! Leave a comment below.