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Web Bytes: how do I see Site Stats for my WordPress Website?

hands holding tablet which shows site stats

You have a WordPress website up and running but is anyone visiting it? How are they getting there – and how long are they staying? Are your marketing campaigns working. You need some site stats.

The simplest option is to install an extension called JetPack by WordPress.com. You’ll need to connect this with a WordPress.com account – if you don’t already have one you have the option of signing up for a free account.

JetPack brings with it a whole selection of goodies, many of which you will find useful for your website, so take some time to look around it. But we’re here for the site stats. Once you’ve installed, activated, and connected JetPack, you will be able to see basic stats – how many site visits and page views per day, week, month, or year, and some basic information about how those visitors got to your site.

For many people, the site stats that come with JetPack are all they need. If you’re not sure, give it a try for a couple of weeks and see if it’s sufficient. Some users, however, will want much more details. That’s when Google Analytics comes in.

Google Analytics can give you a level of detail that JetPack statistics can’t. Google Analytics can tell you things like: are people who get to your site via a Google search more likely to spend money than those who get there via social media? Do visitors from New Zealand spend more or less money than visitors from Australia? For those who begin but don’t complete a purchase, at what stage are they most likely to change their mind?

Sound useful? Google Analytics might be for you.

I won’t lie. Google Analytics can be a bit of a learning curve. It’s range of features – what makes it so useful – can be overwhelming. Fortunately, a quick search will bring up a lot of resources, both the (free) official Analytics Academy training, and many other options. I recommend focusing on what you need to know, and learning to block out the aspects that aren’t relevant to you.

There are many options for setting up Google Analytics with WordPress, but I recommend you try MonsterInsights. MonsterInsights makes everything that bit easier for you; showing you the information you need, right on your dashboard. Setup is much more straightforward too. Give it a try!

At DragonByte we can set up the analytics you need, on a site we build or your existing website. Check out our packages and pricing or get in touch.

5 Essentials (Almost) Every Author Website Should Include

hands typing on a bright orange typewriter with a mug of black coffee next to it In my recent post, Three Absolute Essentials for your Author Website, I outlined the absolute bare bones essentials you need for an author website. A website with just those three things – your name, a contact form, and where to read or buy your work – is worth having, and will be of use not just to readers but potentially to editors who might want to commission your work, or event organisers looking to invite you to a reading.

Of course, most author websites have more than just those three things. That doesn’t mean they have to be super complicated. Adding these five elements, will give you a solid author website, ready to present you and your work to the online world.

In a future post, I’ll talk about some of the more optional elements that can be added to your website to really give it a boost, but in the meantime, here are the five essentials. These are not absolutely necessary in all cases, but they are relevant to almost all authors – and unless you have a reason not to, it’s a good idea to include them on your author website.

1. An introduction to the author

Readers are interested in your books first and foremost, of course, but many also like to get a sense of who you are. A short bio is crucial for your website, and merits its own page.

Don’t feel like you need to share more than you’re comfortable with. While many authors do mention their family or home town, your bio could include anything from your favourite dessert to the authors who’ve most influenced your writing.

2. Book covers

Only a little more important than the title and the buy link is the book cover. Displaying your book cover(s) adds life to your website and catches the eye of the reader. After all, covers are specifically designed to make people want to read the book, so make sure they’re prominent. You may want to consider a banner based on the cover as well.

If you write short fiction, you can of course use the covers of magazines of anthologies which have published your work. If you’re an aspiring author and don’t have a book cover, make sure you have a colourful banner or some pictures relevant to your writing to brighten up your website.

3. Social media links

Not every author uses social media – and not every author needs to. But many of us find it not only an important part of our promotional strategy, but a way to meet readers and other authors, to keep track of industry developments, and to find inspiration.

Whether you’re joining in Twitter chats, or creating ideas boards for your new novel on Pinterest, there’s no reason not to alert anyone viewing your website that they can find and follow you there as well.

4. An author photograph

Given that writing is such a solitary profession, it’s not a surprise that many of us are photo shy. So if you don’t have some professional headshots, maybe treat yourself to a photo-shoot. You’ll need them when you get that big book deal, after all.

 5. A blog or announcements page

Some authors blog actively, talking about their lives, their writing, new releases, and much more. They often provide spaces for other authors on their blog as well. This can be a great tool for building community, but it doesn’t work for everyone – and it’s a lot of effort to go to if your heart’s not in it.

So if blogging’s not your thing, try an announcement page. A date and a couple of lines for each event is all you need – and keep it for the important things: a new release, a cover reveal, or an event you’ll be speaking at.

Updating your content relatively frequently also helps with search engine optimisation (SEO) and ensures your website doesn’t look abandoned. But most importantly, it means that when someone visits your page, they get a sense of what’s new – and what they can look forward to.

I’m an author as well as a web developer, so I know what goes in to building an effective author website. We can work with you to build your website – or add extra functionality to an existing site. Check out our packages and pricing or get in touch – and good luck with your writing!

Web Bytes: What is a Hamburger Menu?

Welcome to Web Bytes, a series that gives quick answers to questions we’re asked at DragonByte, and that you may have been wondering about too. Today on Web Bytes, we’re answering:

What is a hamburger menu?

Unfortunately there are no fried onions, cheese, or even beetroot (hey look, we’re in New Zealand) in the type of hamburger we’re talking about today.

You’ve almost certainly seen one before, even if you didn’t know what it was called. If you’re looking at a mobile version of this site, you can likely already see one in the top right hand corner. Though the colour scheme varies, a hamburger menu looks something like this:

That’s three horizontal lines, one above the other.

Also known as the “three bar” or “three line” or even the “hotdog” menu, the hamburger menu is a convenient way of hiding away the menu on a small mobile screen where space is at a premium. If you click on it, a menu will unfold, something like this:

the dragonbyte menu unfolded as seen on a small mobile screen

As you’ve probably guessed, it’s so called because the bars resemble the bun and filling of a burger. It actually dates from the eighties but has seen a more recent resurgence in use.

Over the next few weeks we’ll be answering more byte-sized questions. Have something you’ve always wondered about? Feel free to contact us and we might feature your question in a future installment.

At DragonByte we can build responsive websites that look great on small and large screens alike. Check out our packages and pricing or get in touch.

Function and Speed: A Website Case Study

Some websites are all about the design. They’re about grabbing interest from new customers, and generating excitement about your products. And some of them are quite different.

We were asked to build a website for an Occupational Medicine conference at short notice. The main purpose of the site was to enable participants to view and download presentations and handouts. Here’s what we came up with:

screenshot of Foundations Live website

The site included passworded schedules for each day of the conference, from which participants could either download a pdf or view an embedded powerpoint.

This site wasn’t about attracting new customers. Everyone using it would be already registered for the conference. So we chose a simple theme and didn’t focus on making it flashy.

That didn’t mean ignoring design entirely. Quite the opposite in fact. One of our key considerations was that many of the participants would be away from home and using mobile devices. We focused on ensuring the site displayed well on all devices and making it easy to read and navigate – and, of course, getting it finished on a tight deadline.

As always, building websites is about understanding the audience and building to their needs.

At DragonByte we can build websites at short notice for your event. Check out our packages and pricing or get in touch.

Three Absolute Essentials for your Author Website

person in dress with laptop on knee writing in notebook beside them

If you’re an author, you need a website. It’s that simple. Fortunately, it’s not complicated. I’ve whittled down what you need on your site to just three components, the three absolute essentials every author website needs. Ready? Here they are:

Your name

This sounds simple, doesn’t it? Would you believe I’ve seen websites without it. Put it right at the top, in big letters – that’s what you want everyone to remember.

And to be clear, this is the name you write under. You may choose to have a pen name or to use your initials or your middle name. There’s no need to have the name your mum calls you, or the name on your passport, anywhere in the site. Your name is your brand, so make it prominent.

Where to read or buy your work

After all, your writing is the whole reason you’re building this site. Most of all, your readers want to know where they can find more of it. Maybe they read a short story and love it and want more… your novel’s just out but with no link to it they don’t even know it exists.

The exact form this takes will depend on what you write – and how much of it there is – but as a minimum you should have the title of each work, and a link to where readers can find it.

A contact form

You can have an email address if you choose, but a contact form will help you sift through spam. Either way, make sure there’s an easy way to contact you (and remember not everyone uses social media).

This isn’t just for readers. I’ve heard from editors who want to commission a story but can’t find how to contact the author. They’ll probably find a way eventually, but if they have to waste time going through a publisher or looking you up on social media, that’s not the best start for your relationship. What if someone wants to invite you to be a guest at a convention? Or to give a book signing? Or they want to make a movie out of your story? You might think you’re not well known enough just yet, but stranger things have happened…

At this point, I can hear you saying: is that all? What about social media? What about a photograph of myself? What about Amazon links? What about my beautiful cover art…

You’re not wrong. There are many other elements that I recommend for your author website. But sometimes it’s good to start small. So many authors see complex, wonderful, websites that may have been built up over several years and immediately get overwhelmed. So start small. Start with the three essentials, quell the perfectionist, and you’ll be ready to get a site up and running.

Next time, we’ll talk about some of those other things…

I’m an author as well as a web developer, so I know what goes in to building an effective author website. We can work with you to build your website. Check out our packages and pricing or get in touch – and good luck with your writing!