Another in my occasional posts on the technical side of being an author-publisher.
This is a follow-up to my post on being one’s own webmaster really. Many WordPress users have been suffering from gremlins recently, and it seems that about ten days ago things came to a head and WordPress Fixed Things.
In the course of trying to find out what was wrong I learnt a lot. I started to recognise when it wasn’t me, but other parts of the system that were going wrong. This isn’t always the case of course, and in the near future I will have to sort out what to do when Microsoft no longer supports Windows XP, which is what my computer runs on. It works fine; I know where to find things and how to fix things. I do most of my work by typing, so I want something that works with a proper keyboard and good wordprocessing interface. In short, I’m hoping to stay exactly as I am for as long as possible. With my Luddite hat on.
I also found some parts of WordPress that I didn’t know existed – the WPTavern with some interesting technical stuff that I more or less understood. Then I found a whole series devoted to writers using WordPress:
WordPress For Writers: WordPress Author Sites.
How could I have been blogging on here for two and a half years without finding this? By not looking, I expect.
There are some suggestions from this one article I plan to implement:
- more integration of the author site and the book site
- use of standard core content modules
- meet user expectations
- clean up the design
- register authorship with Google
I hope you don’t have to be a WordPress user to access the article – I don’t see why you should, but if you can’t and you want more explanation of these points, ask.
You may have noticed I changed the template a week or so ago – that was when it all started working properly again. I’m still deciding how best to use it. The article is a great help to focus my mind. I’ll be decluttering it as I go – informative but focused. What do you like or dislike about it?
4 thoughts on “On Author Websites”
Thanks for the tip. I’ll be taking a good look at this when I’ve dug out from under a bit.
Oh look! I posted this on Sunday instead of Monday. Duh! Oh, well – no post tomorrow 🙁
The article is open to the public, as are most sites on WordPress.com. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t have found it. 😀 I love WordPress’ ability to hide a site as well as make it easy to be found,.
Thank you for your comments on my article. I’m glad to have helped.
Clutter is a big problem with many bloggers, even long time bloggers. I’ve written much on the subject, including some exercises for my blog exercises series such as clutter making your site look spammy, and in a long running article series called WTF Blog Clutter, a detailed exploration of all the ways we mess up our sites.
The key is the issue is that we create our blogs with ourselves in mind rather our readers. We think they will want to see the same things we see. We also get a myopic perspective, just as we do when our house is a mess. We only see the things that are important to us and not the clutter around those things.
When we step out of our socks and look at things from the view point of the visitor, our perspective changes. We start seeing the things they see, and imaging the impact on them.
For instance, while I love supporting Good Reads, does it really matter to the visitor of your site that they know what you are reading? Do you maintain that list and update it all the time? Does the widget get a lot of traffic and clicks? Or is it a pathway for people to leave your site sooner rather than later? Does it help your readers or does it help you?
The blog challenge badges in the left sidebar – who do they help? The organizers and participants of the events, but do they help your readers who don’t care if you are blogging because of a challenge or blogging because you have their best interests at heart. Maybe those can go on your About Page instead?
What about the categories on your site? What is “Interesting Stuff?” I have no idea. It isn’t a searchable keyword, it doesn’t compel me to find out, and there may be treasures in there but I’m not motivated to find out. Categories are doors that beg to be open. Boring doors won’t be opened, abandoned for the more interesting doors with specific interesting stuff. It is my assumption that this category has become your junk drawer, which serves you but not visitors.
There are no right or wrong answers, just questions we forget to ask as we get excited about something and slam it in our sidebar and forget it is there. I don’t mean to offend. If you can justify everything on your site, every pixel, then let it stand. But if you don’t consider it from the visitor, reader, fan, and searcher perspective, you are missing a chance to connect with your audience.
Thank you again for mentioning my article. It is responses like yours that inspire me to continue with the series on WordPress for writers and authors, to challenge them to see their sites in new ways while complying with web standards.
Thanks for the critique, Lorelle! You should have seen it when I first read your article – you’d have fainted. It’s coming along. 🙂
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