4 Key requirements for building an author website
In part 2 of her webinar series, “Designing a Web Presence for Your Book (Beyond the Publisher Website)”, Dr. Katie Linder, creator of The Academic Book Promotion Toolkit, shared detailed insight into technical requirements to consider when designing a web presence for your book. Among these requirements were domain names, hosting providers, content management systems, and themes, widgets & plug-ins.
In this article, we summarize key aspects of these four technical requirements as presented by Dr. Linder.
1) Domain names
When choosing a domain name for your website, Dr. Linder suggests that you make it memorable, ensure that it is not easily confused with something else, and is unusual enough to be available as a .com. She further advises that you come up with a range of names in case your first choice is taken. Several reputable places to register a domain name shared during the webinar were: GoDaddy, Dreamhost, SquareSpace, and Network Solutions.
2) Hosting providers
Hosting providers allow you to rent space online, although many also provide domain name registration services. When selecting a hosting provider, Dr. Linder notes that you should consider disk space, bandwidth, level of support, and the up time guarantee offered by the provider.
3) Content management systems
Content management systems, or CMS, are used to add content to your website. This includes page content, images, blog posts, and multimedia elements such as audio and video. Dr. Linder states that common CMS option to consider include: WordPress, SquareSpace, Wix, and Drupal.
4) Themes, widgets & plug-ins
Each CMS provides a foundational tool set for managing the content, but the site design and functionality is achieved through the use of themes, widgets, and plug-ins.
Themes apply design and layout elements to impact the visual style of the website.
Widgets – such as counters, social media feeds, word clouds for blog tags, and more – provide additional functionality on the front-end of the site and often appear in the sidebars or footers.
Plug-ins are back-end features such as back-up systems, SPAM filters, metrics for website visitors, clicks & referrers, and other administrative tools.
Each CMS has options for themes, widgets, and plug-ins. Many are available for free, but some are paid enhancements. To determine which options are best for your site, Dr. Linder suggests that you “visit other websites and see what you like”. For WordPress, she recommends using the Akismet plug-in for anti-SPAM, Jetpack for security, and Vault Press for back-up features.
Beyond the four core requirements, Dr. Linder advises to consider items that impact search engine optimization and mobile accessibility of your website, to maintain the content and updates to the system, and to remember to pay your monthly or annual domain name and hosting fees to keep the site online and fully functional for visitors.