Did you hear? Websites are becoming more and more important.
For potential readers they represent a place to check out an author and get a sense for the book. Heck, people don’t even buy toothbrushes without checking online first.
For people who loved a book websites are a place to go back and get more information and connect with the author.
And for authors a website is the central hub for their entire author platform – the place to send everyone from everywhere for everything.
At last it seems authors and their publishers are finally starting to take note. All of the authors on this list have decent websites (as compared to this list from a few years ago). A few (probably with a little help from their publisher’s publicity team) have really nice websites .
Without further ado let’s check out the websites of the 10 best-selling non-fiction authors of 2015. I’ve added a few notes about each as you consider creating your own author website.
Malala has a nice little site built on a simple Blogger theme. The strong reds and whites give a sense of urgency and the site is very sparse and simple. This thing is full of pictures of Malala and all about her current story. And why shouldn’t it be? A 16 year-old from Pakistan who’s a champion of children’s rights and a Nobel Peace Prize winner needs a website all about her.
It looks like since she’s on Google’s Blogger platform they’ve used the popularity of her site to drop in some ads in and try to make a little revenue.
Naomi’s site is…simple? But not like a “oooh, your site is so clean and simple.” It feels more like a missed opportunity. More like the blog of a financial researcher than the main website of an award-winning journalist writing shocking exposés about worldwide capitalism. With so much happening around her books there seems to be a lot more that could have been done here.
Amy and her team have built a site just for her new book Yes, Please. It’s simple but a lot of fun. The top section is all about getting you to click on a button and buy the book, but the bottom of the page is where the magic is. That part is populated with her publisher’s favorite Instagram photos tagged #AmySaysYesPlease – a great way to engage readers and use social media to promote her book.
Even though Laura has written other (best-selling) books, her author website focuses almost exclusively on her latest book Unbroken. The site is dense with extra content about it and includes some cool interactive features. With light text on a darkish background the words can sometimes be hard to read but we’ll forgive it for having so much else done right. The site is designed to reflect the seriousness of the book without going overboard.
I’m loving Fritjof’s site. There’s tons of info on here but the layout never feels cluttered. The design shows a bent towards his scientific writings but in a clean, fresh, even artistic way. Careful thought has been given to each page’s layout, photos, and content. Very nice.
Oooh, another favorite. Atul’s site is instantly striking and beautifully showcases the different elements of his life’s work. The checkmarks on the homepage are wonderful selection elements nicely designed and then used consistently throughout the site. The red color scheme ties him perfectly to the medical field and his books page is clean and enticing.
Randall made a name for himself writing the web-based comic xkcd. His book is an outgrowth of that comic, and with the new book Randall created a new subdomain on his site just for the book. Both sites are about as plain as can be. Like his illustrations the site is just the most economical way to get his content across.
Of all the sites in this list Lena’s is the most obviously curated and created by a specialized marketing team. Which is not a bad thing. The site is charming, retro, and well thought-out. The design parallels the feel of the book and brings a taste of nostalgia to those of us about Lena’s age. Don’t miss the great little section called Ask Lena which is full of fun little videos of Lena answering reader’s questions. Random House did a great job on this one.
Lynsey is a photographer. Her site is a nice, huge collection of images which is always easy to design for – just show off the photos! However it took forever for this site to load for me, if I hadn’t been writing this article I would have left before I saw anything.
Lastly we have Erik Larson. His author website has just about everything I think an author website needs, though the bright design seems at odds with the serious nature of his books (looks like it may be pretty congruent with his nature). However the oreos and pencil in his header are one of the funnest little elements I’ve seen on any site on the list.
Some final thoughts
My favorites from the list:
1. Atul Gawande – for having a great concept that was flawlessly executed.
2. Lena Dunham – for being quirky and fun without losing any usability.
3. Fritjof Capra – for its artistic treatment of scientific subjects.
Responsive websites customize their layout and interface based on the device you view it with. This is a huge boon to mobile/phone users – no one wants to try and read tiny text on a phone. Responsive design is not so much of a trend as it is making sure every visitor has an optimal experience. 4 out of the 10 sites in this list are responsive, so we have a little ways to go in this area.
WordPress is the leading content management system on the web and happens to be the platform that Apt Design builds all of its sites on. It doesn’t guarantee a good site, but its ease of use makes it great for authors looking to update their own website. Looks like 5 of the 10 sites use WordPress, so at least someone’s able to make some easy updates.
Are you looking for someone who’s built websites for some of today’s biggest authors, but still knows how to make an unpublished author happy? Good thing you read to the end – that’s me! Let’s talk about your new great author website.