Every writer needs a website.
You might want to have a portfolio of your writing, feature short pieces on a blog, or connect with your fans.
In this post we will take a look at how you can build a simple author website using DevPress themes. In this particular example, we’re going to focus on the Luminate theme, but any of the other DevPress themes that feature at least one sidebar will work just as well.
Here’s an example of a simple author site using Luminate:
Let’s look at how to put it together!
The first question you need to ask when building a website is what kind of content will you have, and how do you want to display it? Many websites have a static front page with content that encourages visitors to click through to read more.
Authors generally find that having their blog as the home page works best. Some authors use their blog as a way to share ideas and interact with their fans through posting snippets from upcoming books, talking about research and travel, or asking for reader feedback. Many authors also use their blog to post updates on conventions or signing events, book reviews, and other information relevant to their audience.
How to do this:
When you set up your WordPress site using a DevPress (or any other) theme, go to your Dashboard and under Settings > Reading, choose Front Page Displays: Your latest posts.
When you’re building a site, you’ll want to make sure your visitors can find the important content easily. For an author site, we recommend that at minimum you include the following pages:
- Information about your books, including covers and blurbs about each one
- Your bio, including a photo, awards and any other relevant credentials
- Information on how to buy your books, ideally with direct links to Amazon and other online retailers that take a visitor directly to your book page
- A contact form so people can get in touch with you if they wish.
How to do this:
You will need to create separate pages for each of these items or link to the content elsewhere using a custom menu item.
To add these to your menu, you will need to create a Custom Menu by going to Appearance > Menus.
In addition to your top menu, to make the most of a site like this, a sidebar will allow you to point your visitors to additional content. In this case, we’ve included a search box, a gallery of books, a mailing list signup form, and ways to find previous posts.
How to do this:
You can add these items as well as other navigational or informational content by adding Widgets under Appearance > Widgets:
After you set up your WordPress site and install the Luminate theme, there will be a few plugins that you’ll want to add to your site to provide additional functionality. For an author website, we recommend the following plugins:
- Jetpack for extra sidebar widgets, a contact form, tiled galleries, Publicize and sharing options
- Akismet (comes with your WordPress installation) to manage spam comments on your posts as well as on your Jetpack contact form
- Google Analyticator or Google Analytics by Yoast to connect your site to Google Analytics and measure your traffic and clickthrough rates
- Yoast SEO to help boost your site’s discoverability on Google
- Mailchimp for WP or a service such as SumoMe for a mailing list signup form
- A backup plugin such as BackWPUp or Updraft Plus, or a paid backup service like Backup Buddy or VaultPress.
Other than the two paid backup services listed above, all of the plugins listed are free. You can set up a mailing list on Mailchimp for free, and when your list grows or you need more features, they have upgrade options. The same goes for SumoMe, which gives you both mailing list sign up options that can connect to Mailchimp or other mailing list providers as well as other features like heatmaps to see where your visitors are spending most of their time on your site.
How to do this:
To add plugins, you have two options. If they are on WordPress.org, you can go to your Plugins option in your Dashboard, search for them, and then install and activate them directly through your WordPress site.
You can also download the plugin files from a separate third-party website and then upload them in your Plugins area of WordPress.
Be sure to activate them in order to see their functionality show up in your Customizer, Widgets or elsewhere as appropriate.
DevPress themes allow for quite a bit of customization. Let’s take a look at what the Luminate theme has to offer.
Below are the Customizer options for Luminate:
As you can see, you have a number of different options that will allow you to modify the design to fit your specific needs.
For our sample site, we first added a logo (the typewriter image) and a custom tagline under the site title. We also added a top navigation menu with social media links above the custom menu, as seen below:
We added a background image, modified widgets, and changed the colors for the links, as seen in the post titles and sidebar links.
How to do this:
- You can upload your own logo, as well as set the site title and tagline in the Customizer under Site Title, Tagline and Logo (easy enough!)
- For the social media icons, you will need to create a new menu under the Navigation option. Call it something like social menu, and add custom links for each of the services you want to use. Then under Navigation > Menu Items, choose your new ‘soclal’ menu for the Top Menu.
- You can upload a background image under the Background Image option. Choose something that isn’t too busy and that either fills a large screen or that will tile well. You have choices for scrolling, meaning the background will move as you scroll down, or fixed, meaning the background stays in place as you scroll. Play around with the tiling and background position options to see what works best.
- For the sidebar, go to the Widgets option and choose the items you would like in your sidebar. We used a search box, a Jetpack gallery, a Mailchimp signup box, and a few other widgets, as shown below:
And that’s it!
With DevPress themes, you get to make a lot of different design choices. While we didn’t choose to do so for this website, you can use special showcase layouts for your home page. You can also change the position of the sidebar (or remove it entirely).
Need more ideas?
Your author site should reflect both your own personality and the primary genre in which you publish. A non-fiction author will likely want a streamlined website that highlights their experience and credentials. A science fiction author, on the other hand, may want a site that’s a bit more creative, with original artwork in the header or background.
For ideas, take a look at what similar authors have done on their website, and consider following their example.