I couldn't be happier with the work Cerulean Spark did to redesign my website... Good people doing fine work. [Read more...]
Our very first client is successful author A.J. Hartley. He has become quite popular and needed a fresh look with a more streamlined design to focus more on his published works. A.J. likes to have control of his website but doesn’t want to be burdened with the mundane maintenance. So a secondary goal was to make it as easy as possible for him to add books, reviews, interviews, marketing announcements and blog posts that would then appear on the site in a consistent, logical manner. We also made sure the whole site was responsive and easy to read on mobile devices.
Home Landing Page
The home page is a landing page the has a beautiful carousel of his book covers to tantalize any visitor and encourage them to explore more about each book. The book covers scroll infinitely in order of publication and A.J. can choose to include or exclude books to maximize the effectiveness.
A review quote from a random book provides additional motivation for the site visitor to find out more about a particular book. Again, A.J. has the ability to limit the list of books from which a quote will be selected.
An Announcement section provides A.J. with a mechanism to schedule a starting and ending date for a marketing blurb or other proclamation. He can schedule as many as he wants and they can be set to start immediately or in the future and end on a particular day. If no announcement is scheduled to show on a day, the section does not appear on the Home page.
We also wanted to provide some information about A.J. right away. He is the inspiration and source of all these wonderful books, so we wanted folks to get to know him quickly.
A.J.’s latest 3 blog posts are highlighted next. He has posted a number of blog posts that were quite popular and brought a lot of traffic to his old site so this has proven to be a valuable way to attract traffic to his site.
The footer simply provides common links to social media, the newsletter subscription and a search mechanism for the site. Since the footer appears on every page, it makes it easy for these important features to be found in a known location across the site.
The colors are cool and welcoming without looking corporate. A.J. wanted shades of blue so we took some brilliant ones and added a younger, fresh teal color to call out important areas and add vibrancy. A.J.’s book covers are so interesting and colorful so we wanted to make sure that we didn’t take away from them. They are the highlight of the site.
We chose a clean, spacious layout with each page focusing on a single type of content. No sidebars get in the way to complicate the page and leave annoying white space on the side when the length does not match the main content. On many pages, special content sections are included within the main page content to cross-link and keep the visitor on the site with related material that may be of interest.
Since the focus of A.J’s site are his published works, we wanted to make sure that visitors had plenty of methods of finding books of interest. The Books & Projects page has all of A.J.’s works in order of publication date. A fan can then sort them in different orders if desired: by age group, genre, publication type and series. Individual book pages provide lots of details of interest including bonus materials like image galleries, excerpts and buying links.
Blog pages are laid out in a flowing two-column newspaper style with the most recent posts toward the top. On post pages, a box with 3 random books is displayed to make sure that readers that landed here on a viral post know who wrote it and have a chance to see some of A.J.’s books before leaving.
We created a MailChimp account for A.J. to allow fans to subscribe to his newsletter. Now all of his site updates get sent in a nicely formatted email to his eager fans.
On the book detail pages, the Amazon buying links have A.J.’s associate code in them so he gets a share in the profits from any sales generated from clicks on his site.
We added a Facebook feed on the Meet A.J. page to call out the latest social media activity. We chose to include only Facebook since A.J. posts similar content on Twitter.
Slideshows, image carousels and galleries appear throughout the site to display photos and images in the most effective manner.
We created custom types to make site updates easier for A.J.
Books (library) – When A.J. wants to add a new book to his library, he creates a Book and fills in all of the fields. The book is automatically displayed on the Books & Projects page and has a book detail page that is consistent in format and content with all of his other book pages. He doesn’t have to lift a finger beyond the original data entry.
Reviews – A.J. can create as many reviews as he wants and link them to a book in his library. Each review has information about the source, date and an optional URL to link to an orginal web page. These reviews are then displayed on the associated book detail pages and also used as a pool from which to select random reviews for display on the site.
Interviews – When A.J. is interviewed about a book, the content of the interview can be created and linked to the book for display on the book detail page.
Bonus Materials – Any bonus materials for each book – like extracts from the text, image galleries from research times, articles, related short stories, and more – can be created and linked to the associated book for display on the book detail page.
Custom widgets were created to make it easy for A.J. to control special content.
A.J. can create marketing Announcements and schedule start and end dates for display on the Home page.
A Review widget allows A.J. to choose to display reviews in a wide variety of ways. For example, he can select a random review from a subset of his published books.
We implemented some simple SEO to help the search engines find A.J.’s important pages – primarily his books. By using the Yoast SEO plugin, it will be quite simple for A.J. to tweak the settings and enhance his ranks over time. This plugin provides some great tips that even a beginner can follow.
We integrated A.J.’s Appearances page with his author Google calendar to provide a convenient and efficient mechanism to share his event calendar with fans. Now they know where and when to find him at conferences, conventions, book signings and other speaking engagements. Fans can even add A.J.’s author calendar to their own calendar set to stay up to date.
We added a number of custom forms to the site to allow folks to contact A.J. for specific interests.
The basic contact form works for anthing and everybody.
If a fan wants to request a signed copy of a book, we have a form for that too. It has all of the relevant information needed to get the process started and send an email to the correct individual to make it happen.
If someone wants to request a speaking engagement, they can fill out the form with all of the details and A.J. can then evaluate the request to see if is is something he wants (and has time) to do. These forms save everyone time.
A fun project!
Overall, this was a very fun project to do! It was so interesting to go through all of A.J.’s material and bring it up to date on a fresh, new site. We are so proud to serve him and help him in his growing popularity. Can’t wait for the next book, A.J.!