Oct 11 2009

Website Review: Mike Angley

Today I came across Mike Angley’s website— Mike Angley is an OSI veteran (hu-ah!) that writes paranormal military fiction.  This review will help you design and write an effective website to market your writing.    

What Worked

  • The site is well-edited.  That’s absolutely crucial for a writer’s website. 
  • The website generally looks professional. 
  • The site conveys “I write military fiction” at a glance.  
  • I like how he used his picture, easily establishing his military background.  You don’t have to wade through the “About the Author” to learn the most compelling part of this author’s bio. 


What Could Have Worked Better

  • The site could use a better name than Mike Angley.  That’s not optimized for search-engine performance or memorable.  If you didn’t specifically know who Mike Angley was, you would almost certainly just scroll past “Mike Angley” if it came up in a Google search.  At the very least, I would recommend adding a phrase that suggests what he writes.  Like “Mike Angley: paranormal military fiction with a punch.”
  • I am not fond of light text on a dark background for a writer’s website.  Since authors generally have quite a lot of text on their website, the additional eye-strain is particularly noticeable.   
  • I’d recommend placing a one-sentence synopsis of the book/series above the fold (ie easily visible from the first screen that someone sees after coming to his website).  
  • The site felt very laggy.  I’m not sure if it was an issue on my end or his, but I haven’t been having any problems with other writing websites today.   
  • I feel like it’s pretty important to know whether his books are religious in nature.  I’m getting some mixed messages on that front.  For example, he has “At Home with Christian Fiction” in his blogroll and the booktrailer includes a religious image and a vague reference to the character’s faith.  Generally, I wouldn’t recommend leaving any doubt as to which niche you’re writing for. 
  • I don’t think that the site answers “what’s in it for me?” very well.  For example, the first item on his sidebar is Mike’s Profiles.  That’s not very interactive.  I’d recommend leading with something more interactive, like writing advice (if you have any), personal interviews, or information about how to interact with Mike.  For example, if the author does promotional events, I think that a blurb about his next event should be displayed very prominently. 
  • I would recommend shortening the “About the Author” section.  Some of these details, like the five professional organizations he belongs to, are probably irrelevant to prospective readers.  Also, his bio focuses too much on his work experience and not enough about his writing.  He’s worked with OSI for 25 years, including five tours as a unit commander.  That tells us pretty much all we need to know about his (impressive) credentials, I think.  Right now, he spends about 275 words (3 long paragraphs) describing his military background.  Too much.  Also, I’d recommend cutting out the detail about the dog and family or inserting a detail or two that are really interesting. 
  • The image of his Military Writers Society of America badge has a white background, which looks garish on his otherwise black page.  I would recommend Photoshopping it so that the color blends in better.  (Just replace the white border with a black one).   
  • The book trailer looks cheap.  It probably would have been more effective to buy a digital recorder and narrate it by voice rather than do a slideshow with text captions and music.  Alternatively, use a font/color combination that look good on the background.  Finally, the words themselves are not yet interesting enough to intrigue prospective readers, I suspect.  
  • Generally, I would recommend making the book trailer more prominent than it is here.  However, I don’t think that this book trailer is particularly compelling, so I would leave it where it is. 
  • I would recommend removing the comments feature until the author has enough readers to regularly generate comments.  This is social proof: if you have a lot of comments, people will get the impression that the author is popular, which will encourage them to see what they’re missing.  Conversely, if a reader sees “0 Comments” after the end of every post, he may wonder if he’s the first person to ever view this website.  As a rule of thumb, I would recommend against enabling comments until you get about 100 viewers a day. 
  • I don’t feel like I know what the author’s style of writing is like.  One of the tabs at the top of the website reads “Bloggy News,” which sounds a lot more casual and whimsical than the rest of the website. 

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