Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Web sites are key components of book promotion.

Book web sites are key components of book publicity campaigns. That's why they have to be done well.

Designing a book web site well does not mean integrating as many Flash components and as much eye candy as possible. On the contrary: anything that distracts the web site's visitors will ensure that visitors keep their visits short. Just as importantly, the very bad design elements that turn off visitors are also likely to turn off search engines. So keep it simple, and do your visitors (and would-be book buyers and media decision-makers) and search engine a favor.

I came across an example of a bad web design choice this morning while scanning the news online (which is the first of my book promotion tasks every day as I seek ways to tie clients' books and expertise into what's happening in the world). While I was checking out's headlines, I was faced with a choice between reading about the CIA's certainty that Al-Qaida will attack the U.S. within a few months or checking out why a Newsweek writer believes Meryl Streep is overrated as an actress.

I chose to read the latter -- or, at least, I tried to read the latter. Unfortunately, the web page featured a black background with a white typeface. Really bad idea. Now, as I look at a white background with a black typeface, I'm seeing horizontal black stripes across the page.

That's unnecessary, and the web site designer should have known better than to create something cute rather than functional. The takeaway? Make sure your book web site designer focuses on readability and search engine optimization. That will work, and you'll have a web site that's an asset to your book promotion campaign. Anything else is just indefensible.