Build a Kid Friendly Web Site, Part One

Web sites are one of the most valuable publicity tools for an author today. But when you’re putting yours together there are a few tips you want to think about especially if you write fiction for kids.When I first put my author’s web site together, I decided that the best approach was to devote one page for each of my books. This worked well in terms of promoting me as a writer to other adults but didn’t do much for kids who want to visit the site.Take a spin around the WebIf you write fiction for kids one of the things you’re going to want to do is take a look at how other authors have set up their web sites. Now, part of this research will depend upon what level you write for: picture book, chapter book, middle grade, or YA. While it’s true that the focus of my new web site is for middle graders, these tips can help for any level of children’s fiction.I began my research by thinking about the authors in my age range that I like. I write mysteries for kids and so one of the first sites I went to was RL Stine’s. He has a really neat site that uses a good bit of animation and sound and it works for him. It wouldn’t necessarily work well for me because I’m not an HTML whiz. My site is simple and clean and doesn’t rely on flash animation, video or audio.I also went to look at Beverly Cleary’s web site and got a lot of really good ideas for how I could fashion mine.When you visit another author’s web site make sure to look at everything. If there are games or trivia quizzes, play! See how they’re laid out. Take notes on how hard or easy it is to navigate the pages and whether kids can find the information to answer a quick quiz within the site itself.Plan before you buildAfter I took a look at the sites I liked, I made some notes about what I would like to do with my own web site. I decided that I wanted to have a page for each of the characters as well as a character page that lists everyone important in my book.The character page should have colorful graphics that linked to each individual page both on the graphic and in the text underneath the graphic.Part of the challenge for me, however, was that my book is not illustrated. I was able to take characters from the front cover and use them in the web site but then I was left with the dilemma of having to either create illustrations or get some clip art to use for graphics.I choose the latter option and went to Microsoft’s free site to download and use some clip art.Decide how many pages to have on your site. You don’t have to have 50, 30, or even 20 pages to have a great web site. My site has under 20 pages.In Part Two (another article), we’ll look at whether you want to collect information from kids, using trivia quizzes as fun and games, and creative ways to use graphics.