A couple months ago I was zipping around different author websites. The ones that were functional and easy to use really caught my eye; they weren’t slammed with too much information or bright blinking lights. Neat and orderly, their layouts were engaging and drew me to the author’s books without the need for a blaring sign that read BUY MY BOOK!
When I went back to my own website…I found it lacking. And if sherifredricks.com didn’t excite me, then it might not be attractive to readers, either.
And so, my adventure of finding a web designer began and this is what I learned:
If you don’t click, you’re gonna clack.
Almost important as their experience in building or redesigning a website, I had to find someone who “got” me. A person who understood what I write and the genre (which is mainly paranormal romance).
I needed someone whom I felt comfortable working with. I don’t know if you’ve ever worked with a person who made you feel like a complete idiot, but I have–and I won’t make that same mistake twice. I had to find the person who I felt would best work alongside me to update my site.
Experience in your neck of the woods.
Regardless of their years of experience and a portfolio crammed full of pretty pictures, if my web designer didn’t have knowledge of the romance novel industry, no doubt they would miss the mark. The first few designers I interviewed had a ton of experience. They were polished and professional and had all sorts of accolades. What they didn’t have was experience working with romance books and authors. (no bueno)
Ask The Right Questions
What are the right questions, you ask? I think that might be different for everyone. For me, I was more concerned with (1) a website designer’s knowledge of the romance genre, and (2) can I get along with said designer fabulously. Sometimes asking questions isn’t asking a question at all. It’s talking. It’s getting to know your potential designer. It’s the “interview”. I said something like, “Hey, I need to update my website. I’m a steamy paranormal romance author who sometimes dabbles in contemporary. Can you help an author out?”
Look over their portfolio carefully.
Does the designer have a variety of website styles, or does their focus lean toward a certain flair? Do you like the layout of the other websites your potential designer created? Take note of which sites appealed to you (and why) and which did not (and why), then have those notes handy if you decide to move forward.
The Big Ahhhhh
After my decision to revamp my outdated, DIY author website, I initially Googled “website designers”. With 238,000,000 resulting links, I knew I had to narrow it down. So, I tried “romance author website designer” and got 76,200,000 results.
Better, but not really. Then I remembered people offering their services in my Facebook author support groups; cover design, formatting, editors, proofreaders, and website design. Botta bing!
Well, turned out botta blah. Out of the four I contacted, only two got back to me. Both were very nice but only one had any actual website design experience. And that designer…had no experience with romance authors. Le Sigh…
As fate would have it, a discussion had broke out about important items an author needs on their website. Which broke down further to those who sang praises of their website designers, and those whose fingers flew with comment-rants six-inches long. I chose a happy author and messaged her privately—and I’m so glad I did. Ahhhh! What a sigh of relief.
Word of mouth recommendations are Da Bomb! Josey Howarth, the website designer I contacted, interviewed, and hired, didn’t ask for half down payment three lines into her reply email. She never pushed me to get started right away, as others had, and took time to show me a variety of websites (not all of them author related) to give her and me an idea of which ones I liked, the layouts I liked best, and styles I preferred.
As it turned out, she asked all the right questions.
I’m not a website designer – I know nothing about it. And what works for one author may not work for me because of genre or book branding or a multitude of other things. All I know is Josey kept our video conference light and humorous. She is so smart it’s scary, and I know my website is in great hands.
If you like the look and feel of my website, or perhaps you’re scouting for a top shelf website designer of your own, let Josey Howarth know! Here is her contact information:
Josey Howarth from Love Sudo, Ltd: https://www.lovesudo.com
What do you think of my new and much improved website? Don’t be shy! Leave a comment.