When I started out as a serious writer, back in the mid-1990s, I didn’t even own a home computer. I wrote in longhand and word-processed after hours at work. Once I had my first publishing contract I acquired a home PC and got internet access, and a family member who worked in IT set up an author website for me. It was pretty simple, a basic template with a Celtic border framing each page of text. The pages were Author Bio, Books, Contact and News. There were links to several online forums run by readers. As the fan base grew, readers were invited to submit book reviews, art work and (sometimes) their own writing for display on the site.
My readership outgrew that first website within five years or so. Not only did it get too time-consuming for me to handle the updates myself, but the program that supported the site became outmoded. The technology was developing fast and readers wanted more features. So I employed a professional web designer to create a new site, working in consultation with me. I pay her a monthly fee to maintain and update the site for me – a decision I have never regretted.
So what did we want, back in 2006? A quicker response. A way of displaying fan art more effectively. Features such as a rotating display of book covers. Video clips and audio samples. But what about the overall design? (Remember, at this point, tablets and smartphones were not widely in use – most people were still accessing the internet via laptop.)
I thought I knew what I wanted. Whether it was a good idea at the time, I’m still not sure.