Marina’s Academy Newsletter – May 2018

[vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]

How can I make my website great?

As a professional web developer, this is the number one question I get. And it’s a very good one. There are two things to recognize:

One – people visit your website to fill a need or solve a problem. Your job is to figure out what that need is and fill it or find out what the problem is and offer a solution.

As authors, visitors to our website probably want to be entertained. Hopefully they’ve already been entertained by something we’ve written and want to find more. As business people, our job is to convert website visitors into paying customers. Or a visitor might be a blogger, publicist, bookstore owner, or someone else who wants to publicize you. They need information as well, and a way to contact you. And I don’t mean your direct cell number, but an email address that you can be relied on to check periodically.

Two – no matter how great your website is, unless Google likes it no one is ever going to find it. You need to assure Google that you and your website are reputable, trustworthy, and safe, and will offer visitors a quality experience.

To summarize: your website needs to be safe, trustworthy, reliable, and encourage visitors to spend money. How do you do that (without spending a lot of money)?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]Read on.

Marina Reznor[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]

Go to Academy Resource page (Password: fowled)

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Have a question? Comment? Suggestion?

Email me at marina@marinareznor.com

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” bg_color=”#a37a5b” scene_position=”center” text_color=”custom” custom_text_color=”#ffffff” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom” shape_type=””][vc_column column_padding=”padding-1-percent” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ font_color=”#ffffff” column_shadow=”small_depth” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]
THIS MONTH’S HOW-TO: Judge a website
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]This How-To works with Marina’s Website Report Card (this link is a PDF)

* – Google thinks this is important as well, and will reward you.

MUST HAVE’s

5 Second Rule*: Frustrated visitors are going to go elsewhere quickly

Studies show you have about five seconds to engage website visitor before they get bored and click elsewhere. In that five seconds, you have to tell them what your website is about -don’t make them work for it because they will leave to find a better user experience (UX). A good website will clearly and accurately tell a visitor what it’s about by visually spelling out who you are, what you’re selling, and why they should buy it. If you’re successful you’ve got a good chance of your visitor staying another 30 seconds. Your website’s number one goal should be to turn visitors into (paying) customers. (Note: Google measures this by Average Visit Length, not Bounce Rate)

Loads in a reasonable amount of time*: Let’s try and keep it under eight seconds

Not every internet visitor to your site has access to a super-fast connection. Be wary of using high definition images with a large file size that take a while to load, or technology like Flash that takes several uninterruptable seconds to load. If you see the dreaded timer your visitor has already clicked away.

Reasonably fresh*: Current year in the copyright

Google has made it clear that it rewards websites that consistently offer fresh and unique content with a higher page ranking in their search results. It takes a lot of work to make that happen, so at a minimum I need to see someone has turned the lights on in the last 12 months and updated the copyright at the bottom of the screen. Good news for WordPress.org users: the current year will appear automatically. Bad news for everyone else (including WordPress.com) – you have to include the copyright and year manually.

Responsive: Looks good on a cellphone and a desktop

Desktop and laptop computers are very different from mobile devices (cellphones and tablets). Your website needs to serve a separate yet similar experience to each. In 2017 mobile website traffic was 52.64% of internet usage is predicted to reach 72% by the end of 2018. You should not pay extra for a responsive version of your website – every modern theme should do it automatically.

HTTPS*: Your website is a safe place

A HyperText Transfer Protocol Secured, or HTTPS, indicates that the information going back and forth between your visitor and your server is secure. Going forward most web technology is being built with it as a requirement. According to Google, a secure connection protects the integrity of your website, keeps visitors safe, and protects visitor’s privacy. Most internet service providers (ISPs) are offering HTTPS’s for free.

Great navigation: Don’t make me hunt

Studies have shown that once a visitor lands on your website they immediately start scrolling down. But if I have come looking for something specific and don’t find it, I better be able to see it clearly in the navigation bar.

Accessible*: It’s important that everyone can use your website

The key feature here are alt tags. Your website should work without images turned on, and in their place will be displayed alt tag text that might read “Happy woman reading book with cat asleep in her lap”. Screen readers for the visually impaired can now read alt tags. Google has demanded them for years and will mark your site down if you don’t have it.

Good contrast: Would your site look just as good in greyscale?

Good contrast between your text and background is an essential component of accessibility. This doesn’t mean you can’t have great color variation and balance, but imagine what your website would look like if your website was converted to greyscale. Could you still read it easily? We don’t realize how much variation there is in display quality and ambient light, and getting your contrast right will have a positive effect across all your users.

Call to action: BUY MY BOOKS

Unless you’re just putting up a billboard, most authors want the visitors to buy their book, or at least read the first chapter. Or you might want visitors to sign up for our newsletter. Good websites make it clear what a visitor should do (here’s some examples).

Good typography: Step away from the cursive script, please

Typography is a key component of any website. Paragraph text should be set at the equivalent of 16px, with a minimum line height of 1.5em, and be set in either a basic serif or sanserif font. If you have to get creative (and you don’t), consider some stylish title fonts and use them sparingly.

Privacy Policy*: It’s not just a good idea, it’s the European law

Google has been rewarding sites that have a Privacy Policy for years- it is a key component of their TrustRank. Now more than ever with GDPR, having a Privacy Policy that explains what data you’re collecting and what you’re doing with it is very important.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]

GOOD TO HAVE

Hefty content: But not too hefty

Google says the word count sweet spot for a post or webpage is between 750-1000 words. They reward and punish skimpy or the overly verbose. Keep in mind that most people read five to seven times slower on back-lit screens so this makes sense.

A short(er) domain name: Don’t make me type a lot

It’s understandable that if John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris (aka the author John Wyndham)  was still alive today we hope he would have used his pen name johnwyndham.com for a website. People, especially those typing on mobile keyboards, make a lot of mistakes, so try and keep your domain names shorter.

A Contact page or section:  What if Hollywood is interested?

How can a reader, blogger, visitor, or Hollywood producer interested in your story get in touch with you? Make sure you at least have an email link, or a secure contact form.

An ‘About’ page or section: Hint- your About page isn’t actually about you

It’s about the person who clicks on the link to see it, or is reading the information. If you want to build a relationship with your readers it’s often useful to let them see a face so they can begin to make a connection. Your author headshot is one area that you should spend money for a professional (if you’re not happy with amateur results, which can often be stunning). Include two versions, a small and a large, for bloggers and publicists to use. In your statement, talk about your readers. What are they interested in? Who do they admire, cherish, and aspire to? Why do they turn to you for entertainment?

Social Share icons: Spread the word(s)

Encourage sharing of your content with social media buttons. Connect to your own social media account; they are easier to post to, and help the content on your website look fresh. There are several excellent free social media sharing plugins to choose from.

Your home page title is ‘Welcome’ instead of ‘Home’

Home is so 1990’s. Welcome is better. Hey There! is great.

How easy  do you make it for me to give you money?

We are professional authors and our ultimate goal should be selling our work. How easy does your website make it for me to give you money? Are there obvious links to Amazon or online book sellers? Are you running your own eCommerce? How about some links to local bookstores?[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]

SHINY BITS – OH HELLO! YOU’VE BROUGHT YOUR GAME

Favicon

Favicons are the tiny graphics next to the website title in browser page tabs. They help your website stand out and are a key component of branding. You can make one yourself on the free online sites, or have a graphic artist cut you one for a small fee.

AMP*: Google Accelerated Mobile Pages

AMP is Google’s project to make websites and ads load faster, be prettier, and perform better across all devices and distribution platforms.  AMP is still very controversial, but Google has been making modifications to appease critics.

Your contact emain is yourname@thiswebsite.com

This tells me you know how to set up your own email. Snaps to you!

Pretty pictures

Website images are a conundrum. They will seriously slow a site down, and if they are poorly done it will be the first reason a visitor clicks away. Besides, we’re writers! Why do we need pretty pictures? Because the web is a visual medium. Take the time to learn how to take pretty pictures – your cellphone camera is fine – and how to optimize them before uploading them.

Consistently fresh, unique content: Don’t we all wish

Writing thought-provoking, clever content for your website on a daily, weekly, or heck even monthly basis is exhausting. But Google will reward you.

Voice enabled: The wave of the future

When I say “Alexa, find me a good romance book” and the answer is your author name, you have won the internet.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” bg_color=”#a37a5b” scene_position=”center” text_color=”custom” custom_text_color=”#ffffff” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom” shape_type=””][vc_column column_padding=”padding-1-percent” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ font_color=”#ffffff” column_shadow=”small_depth” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]

WELL, THAT DIDN’T TAKE LONG
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”padding-3-percent” column_padding_position=”right” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/3″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][image_with_animation image_url=”1213″ alignment=”” animation=”None” img_link_target=”_blank” border_radius=”none” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%” img_link=” https://www.theverge.com/2018/5/25/17393766/facebook-google-gdpr-lawsuit-max-schrems-europe”][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”2/3″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]

Now that websites with European visitors have to comply with the GDPR regulations, it didn’t take long for Facebook and Google to be sued for their ‘all or nothing’ opt-in policy (agree or no access).

The comments in this article are getting interesting as well – they point out that the publisher of this article (The Verge) and their parent company (Vox) are not GDPR compliant either.  Read about the lawsuit here.

 

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” bg_color=”#a37a5b” scene_position=”center” text_color=”custom” custom_text_color=”#ffffff” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom” shape_type=””][vc_column column_padding=”padding-1-percent” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ font_color=”#ffffff” column_shadow=”small_depth” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]
BOOKMARK THIS WEBPAGE
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”padding-3-percent” column_padding_position=”right” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/3″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][image_with_animation image_url=”1236″ alignment=”” animation=”None” img_link_target=”_blank” border_radius=”none” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%” img_link=”https://www.wordfence.com/blog/2018/05/discounted-hacked-wordpress-site-cleanings/”][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”2/3″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]WordFence has announced a very reasonably priced Hacked Site Cleanings service. Recovering hacked and compromised sites is a huge pain in the butt, and most professional web developers (like me) will charge you an arm and a leg to do it. Bookmark this page and pray you never need to use it. And if you are running the free or very-low-cost WordFence plugin, you might not need it.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” bg_color=”#a37a5b” scene_position=”center” text_color=”custom” custom_text_color=”#ffffff” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom” shape_type=””][vc_column column_padding=”padding-1-percent” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ font_color=”#ffffff” column_shadow=”small_depth” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]
WASTE TIME LIKE A PROFESSIONAL WEB DEVELOPER
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”padding-3-percent” column_padding_position=”right” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/3″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][image_with_animation image_url=”1215″ alignment=”” animation=”None” img_link_target=”_blank” border_radius=”none” box_shadow=”none” max_width=”100%” img_link=”https://www.sporcle.com/games/chair/can-you-cut-the-cheese”][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”2/3″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]Font or Cheese?

Do you like typography? Do you like cheese? Here’s a game for you, although be warned-it’s harder than you think. This beloved time waster was first published in 2009 and was subsequently been abandoned, but it’s been recreated as a Sporcle quiz. It’s 50 questions at one point a piece and you get five minutes. Go![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” bg_color=”#a37a5b” scene_position=”center” text_color=”custom” custom_text_color=”#ffffff” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom” shape_type=””][vc_column column_padding=”padding-1-percent” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ font_color=”#ffffff” column_shadow=”small_depth” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]

IN NEXT MONTH’S NEWSLETTER
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]Testing your website

In May we talked about judging websites and created a Website Report Card. But how does your website really stack up? The internet has lots of tests we can run to measure how great your site is, and if there are problems there are solutions. And the best part is, they are all free.  Have a particular question you’d like me to address? Drop me an email.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” bg_color=”#a37a5b” scene_position=”center” text_color=”custom” custom_text_color=”#ffffff” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom” shape_type=””][vc_column column_padding=”padding-1-percent” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ font_color=”#ffffff” column_shadow=”small_depth” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]

WHAT I’M WORKING ON
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]I need to do more newsletters. This is hard for me, so I’ll look around and see what other talented and successful authors are doing. I like the idea of doing seasonal newsletters because it’s a schedule and I’ll stick to it.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”]
[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” bg_color=”#ececec” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom” shape_type=””][vc_column column_padding=”padding-2-percent” column_padding_position=”right” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1527774917589{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;}”]

My name is Marina Reznor, and I am a romance author by night and a web developer by day. I’ve been hanging around the internet for a long time, and enjoy sharing the information I come across*.

Have questions? Comments? Let’s be friends.

Email me here: Marina

Did a good friend forward you this email?
Click here: Join the Academy and receive it every month yourself. 

*I am not paid to recommend or advertise any tool or service, and if I was I would clearly disclose the fact.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”]

[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *