Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Critiquing Holly Black's Website

I've been thinking more about what I said in the Halfway through the Year post: that White Cat by Holly Black is one of the books most frequently on my mind this year. It was one of those things I typed and then realized how true a sentiment it was. So, in honor of how much Holly Black has had me thinking, I thought she'd be a good author to feature in an author website critique.

Here are my findings on Holly Black's website.

Overall Impression: I'm so impressed with the breadth of work that Black has produced in a few short years. Short stories, novels, graphic novels, cowriten novels, and co-edited anthologies —it seems like she's done it all. One of her cowritten series, The Spiderwick Chronicles, was also made into a movie and a video game. I would have adored the series when I was younger, I'm sure.

I find myself to be especially strict when it comes to the visual appeal of a page. The wrong color (one that might look good on the author's monitor but not on mine), too much flash, sloppy design, sloppy organization, are instantly off putting and can sway me away from an actual book purchase. Your website is the face of your product, 24 hours a day. It should reflect either your novels or it should simply be clean and easily navigable, if, like Black, you have several genres out there. Black meets every nit picky criteria I have. On every page, the top menus stay anchored, and the text scrolls through an unoutlined box. Each page is clean—black text on a white background, the art to a minimum. It's easy to read and easy to navigate.
Favorite Feature: The Writing Resources page is immensely useful! This is a page that almost all authors have, but this is the first author website I've encountered with multiple links to articles and websites, as well as the usual author's personal advice and several reference novels that she likes. For instance, I'm a sucker for name sites and often get lost in them, so when she suggested Behind the Name, I found a new meaning for my name, making me a snared angel (first and middle name combined). I also just got sucked into ten minutes of reading the Not So Grand Cliche List.

Least Favorite Feature: While she lists all her different writings in one place, not all the links go to the publisher's home page rather than to her novel's page on the publisher's site or even her novel's page on Amazon. Also, the links open in the same page. Okay, I'm actually torn on that. Is it better to have a new browser opened, or is it better to have the link supersede the page you were just looking on? I go back and forth, but for a page that is a list of all her titles, I think I'd rather a separate browser open up so I don't have to keep hitting the "back" button.

What Translates to the As-of-yet-unpublished Author's Site: I'm very enamored with her helpful list of resources, and I think that something like this could be incorporated into my site. I've learned a lot along the way, and a lot of people's articles and books have helped me. The least I could do is link to them.

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