So we’re launching a new Wednesday feature here at TRS called Website Wednesdays, and each week, the idea is to feature a different romance-related website that we’re excited about and want to bring to your attention.
This week, we’re reviewing the website of New York Times Bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken, an author I’ve personally become hooked on over the last few months. If you haven’t read any of her works, you’re in luck. Her latest, Risky Play, is available now. (There’s also a Risky Play giveaway here at TRS!)
There’s a lot offered at this author’s website, it’s well-organized, and loads fairly quickly. The opening page is simply a cover for Risky Play and links to buy it which is a new strategy to me but quite effective in grabbing the visitor’s attention and saying “hey, go look at this!” If I’d been new to this author’s work, I likely would have headed on and done just that.
When you click through to the main page, you can see the larger images and well-placed text. Not only is it pleasing to see a front page that doesn’t include everything the author has ever written and the kitchen sink, it usually means that the site will have a great mobile interface (It does, more on this later!) The presentation is easy on tired or older eyes and that’s a bonus. You see signature logos, the author’s latest releases, easy front-page categorization of the genres she writes in, and a second copy of the author’s headshot with a welcome message near the bottom. I’m genuinely glad to see that because, in my humble opinion, it’s a very nice touch. As a reader, I appreciate it.
What’s on the Menu?
There’s a books page where all the author’s titles are listed and organized by series or as standalone. It’s easy to navigate and to click through each title to learn more about it and where to get it. The individual book pages are easy to read and some offer a convenient way to click through to another book in the same series.
There’s a submenu item for New Releases here where you can see the author’s latest titles which is handy. There’s also a submenu item for upcoming releases.
The Elite Lounge is a Facebook subscription group that presents a lot of unique ideas and fun activities that readers can participate in. Among others there is a monthly chance to win an ARC from the author, an opportunity to help write a book with her, and more. Plus they have ‘Wine on Wednesdays’ which sounds way cooler than Website Wednesdays, huh? Well, we’ll see how our TRS idea goes…
About is an umbrella category for the author’s bio, events and appearances, and contact pages and not clickable. The author’s bio is perfect, short and sweet, the events and appearances page will list exactly that, and we’ll cover the contact page later on.
One thing that’s fairly new to me but that I adore is the trend of authors making movies of their novels and Rachel has done that here with the movie version of her book, The Matchmaker’s Playbook. On this page, you can see the trailer, click through to Passionflix, the venue where these movies are crafted and shown. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve become a fan of this author and plan to see the film. Her stories are awesome and I highly recommend them.
There is a lot of great content under Extras but the navigation is a little tricky. It’s an umbrella category for Merchandise, Trailers, FAQs, and Playlists. But Extras itself it is clickable. If you click on Extras, you’re taken offsite to a merchandise page for Rachel at Fan Girl Central which offers some very nice stuff.
Back on Rachel’s site, there’s RVD Merchandise (the same page you get to when you click on Extras but it opens in a new browser tab). At Trailers, you can watch her book trailers and this author has some high-quality trailers that I think you will enjoy. On FAQs, I really wish more authors included a page like that because as a reader, I appreciate such information a lot. Playlists offer lists of songs the author set up for the reader to enjoy and be inspired by.
Book + Main Bites
A link for you to follow Rachel on the Book and Main Bites platform.
The hallmark of a well-done site is one where you can contact the author (or business) from any page you happen to be on. That’s done well here. No matter where you are, you can find links to Rachel on social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter). On her contact page, you can get a message to her through a standard form but there are also some mailing lists you can join. I love the idea for Release Day Notifications and there are also mailing lists so you can find out where she’s going to be appearing, a list for bloggers, and one for film rights. Also, there’s a general newsletter signup too.
I love a good mobile version of a website and this one doesn’t disappoint.
Some authors offer a mobile version of their website which is usually generic and not always user-friendly. Rachel’s site is responsive so it will format itself for the device it’s being viewed on. The mobile interface looks great, loads quickly, and is very easy to navigate. I especially appreciate the larger menu text. On the mobile side, this site is very well done.
As a reader, this author site has everything I’d be looking for and more than a few delightful surprises. When I Google the author’s name, her website is listed before any other pages of hers like Amazon, Goodreads, and more which tells you that the website is turning in a solid performance for the author as a marketing platform and as a venue where she can interact with her readers.
The only change I could possibly recommend is securing the site with SSL encryption. Google’s been on a quest for a few years now to build a secure internet and secured websites are rewarded with higher search engine rankings and increased visibility. As well as this site performs now, with the benefit of the stronger Google rank SSL encryption would bring, more happy readers might discover this author and be able to enjoy her books and website as much as I do.