Chudleigh Writers’ Circle member, Celia Moore has been busy lately. She has just sent her third novel to her editor, and revamped her website. Her next book will be published in May 2021 but today she is writing about her experience making her website look professional and easy to navigate.
Oh my goodness!
“There’s quite a lot going on. Oh my goodness!” These were the opening words from Pauline Wiles who, through Elizabeth Ducie’s Business of Writing Facebook group, offered a free website audit. Pauline kindly sent me a short video running through the areas that she felt needed attention. I am still expecting a request from her to use my original site as an example of all the things that you should avoid doing!
I started my website in June 2017 to promote my writing, and I think I tried to incorporate every widget and layout option available – like a child given a new set of colouring pencils determined to use every one all at once. I added sliders, sidebars and swooshing images, clashing colours and different fonts.
I was well aware my site needed updating but I was concentrating on writing and also, I’d left tackling it for such a long time that I’d first have to remember how to actually make changes. It wasn’t until I received Pauline’s feedback that I understood my site didn’t just need updating it needed a complete overhaul. I’m delighted with my new site, in fact I can hardly believe it’s mine. Like someone who’s not only gone on a diet and lost two stone but also had a total makeover from a style guru.
If you are thinking of doing something similar then here are some elements I tackled (in no particular order)
- UPDATE – There were references to things happening in 2019 and the date had already passed – a sure sign indicator that my site wasn’t loved by me enough to keep it relevant.
- DECLUTTER –You have nano seconds to grab someone’s attention on line before they click away. My original website was so full of headings and text that I could imagine a visitor would be seeking out a life belt to stop themselves drowning in it. I looked at everything with new eyes and asked myself one vital question what is the purpose of this website, and is this content aiding me in that? If the answer was no, I removed it.
- MOBILE PHONE VIEW – I set up my original site on my desktop and covered the whole screen with information and images but today, like a lot of people, I use my phone to view the web and I kept this in mind throughout the process of decluttering – my number one priority was my site looking good on a phone.
- KEEP IT SIMPLE – I increased my font size, reduced the amount of text and limited the number of different fonts to just two, using just different shades of just one colour.
- YOU NOT ME – I tried to change the focus on the needs of the reader, and stopped making it all about me.
- SCRUNCHING EYE TEST – This was something Pauline advocated, explaining that you want the most important things on each page to stand out – for example a button calling to action, so if you screw your eyes up and look at the page, that vital element should still be clearly visible.
I hope I’ve ended up with a professional looking site that showcases my books. Most people judge by appearance so ultimately the design will reflect back on me and my work. I wanted a classy site that’s easy to use. I hope Pauline will agree I’ve expelled “clutter and dust”.
One last thing though, another point I took on board from Pauline – she reiterated that a site is never finished, you shouldn’t worry about completing and polishing it to the nth degree just keep reviewing it. My website is celiascosmos.com and Pauline’s is paulinewiles.com.
This is a starter but feel free to message me if you’d like a further chat.”