Decide what your book’s website will look like

Before constructing your website or even deciding what pages you’ll have on your website, you’ll need to think about what the website page should look like. While each page will differ slightly – one might be a collection of publicity photos that can be downloaded while another is primarily a sample chapter of your book – each page should contain certain elements that are consistent throughout your site. This helps give your website a unity of appearance and will improve the reader’s ability to navigate it.

To best understand web design, imagine that each element of your page sticks to a piece of cardboard in a very specific spot: a header giving your name sits at the page’s top; a slim column of links to other pages on your website runs down the left side; an article with a headline and photo sit below the header and to the right of the column of links. These parts are “glued” to a frame, which typically consists of a single color or a pattern.

For example, at the website promoting my book “Hikes with Tykes”, the frame includes the header illustration of a family walking with the website’s slogan superimposed over the family. Surrounding this is a background tree brown color. You want your frame and background to be the same on virtually every page of your website. This unity of appearance makes it identifiable as your website.

Among the general parts of any website page that fit on this frame are:
• Body content – Also known as text, this is the article or wording that appears on the page. It might be a summary of your book, a Q&A of you the author, or a biography.
• Headlines – These are the titles of your body content so that readers know what a specific page is about. For example, headlines might read “Novel Synopsis”, “Q&A with the Author”, or “About the Author.”
• Images – These photos or illustrations support the body content on the page. An “About the Author” page with a biography might include a picture of the author.
• Navigation – These are links that readers can take to other pages on your website. For example, they may be a list of links appearing on either the left or the right side of the page, or they may be a series of file folder-like tabs running across the top of your page.
• Credits – These typically appear at the page’s bottom and might include such information as who designed the website, who hosts the site, a copyright date, and so on. For my “Hikes with Tykes” website, since I did all of the work myself, I dispensed with the credits.

If using a turnkey website, you can select from templates that have a frame ready to go for you. Each page you build will use this frame. You then add any of the general parts of a website page (body content, headlines, images, navigation, credits) that fit on this frame. During the next few chapters of this book, we’ll examine what specific pages you might want to include on your website and considerations you should make about the body content, headlines, images and navigation on each one.