The Author's Website

The Author's Website

It's probably not a good thing to hate your own website.

My previous author's website was eight years old. It was created by someone with excellent design skills but, sadly, not-so-fantastic usability skills. The website looked amazing and it made me look very professional. After it was finished and launched, I loved it ... for about a year.

And then the troubles began.

On the back end, the website was as easy to update as an iPhone strapped to an asteroid. For each change to an image on the website, I needed the designer's help. With each change I made to a text, I ran the risk of ruining the exquisite layout. And navigating through the content management system the designer had deployed on WordPress felt like operating the large Hadron collider, blindfolded.

Needless to say, what began as a hesitation to keep my site updated deteriorated into a situation where the site was awfully out-of-date. I didn't dare touch it except for the most urgent of changes. I didn't even want to look at the website as it was too painful to see all the things that needed fixing.

I learned from that.

An author's website has three jobs:

  1. Sell current books (with a shop or links to other stores)
  2. Grow future readers (most commonly with a newsletter)
  3. Engage existing readers (with information and a contact form)

These three jobs are nearly impossible to do with a heavily outdated website. No matter how good you look on a professionally designed site, if you cannot easily change it and keep it fresh, you might as well throw it out the window.

I spent the last two weeks building a new website from scratch, on my own, right on top of the Shopify platform, because that will make it super easy to sell my own products later on. The website is simple yet colorful and is, as of this moment, 100% up-to-date. It is also very easy to maintain (I made sure of that). I have a significant backlog of extra pages still to add and small changes I still need to make, but I'm quite pleased with what I have right now.

I hope I will still be happy with the website several years from now. It might not be as fancy as what a professional designer would produce, but it's good enough for what it needs to do.

And I made it myself.

P.S. If something seems wrong on the website, please tell me. I'm still fixing bugs.

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Jurgen Appelo

"Eighty percent of everything is noise."