Jeanne: September progress report and a sneak peek

I was hoping to show off my brand new author website today, but it’s not quite ready for prime-time. It’s getting closer, though!

It’s been over 4 months since I made my down payment to Spark Creative Partners (formerly Bemis Promotions). When I went to write my blog post last month, I realized that, aside from the occasional “we’re working on it and we think you’re going to be thrilled,” I hadn’t heard from them.

So I emailed them and said, “When?” The next day they sent me a link to the draft site that’s currently running on their test server. And they were right–I was thrilled.

A closer look revealed that the site still needed a lot of work, but I loved the concept. Here’s a sneak preview of my header:

On the working site, there’s very cool animation around the apple and the snake, but more than that, I think the header perfectly captures the darkly whimsical nature of my Touched by a Demon paranormal romance series. I plan to release the first one, The Demon Always Wins, next September.

I popped the link off to Jilly and to another writer friend, Nicole Amsler, for their input. Both had some suggestions around making the site look and behave more consistently, but they loved the overall concept at much as I did.

My background is in software development. so I know the best way to ensure software operates according to your expectations is to write a test plan that lists each feature and indicates whether it functions to spec. Here is a page from my test plan:

No. Page Object Test Case Result
1 Home Latest Book box Home page layout displays boxes at bottom of screen without scrolling Change requested
2 Home Upper Nav Bar Menu items take user to appropriate page Success
3 Home Welcome box Text is easily read Failure
4 Home Latest Book Displays cover, title, series and release date Failure
5 Home Newsletter box Box captures all necessary information Change requested
6 Home Latest news box Display heading and link to latest news Success

There’s another column I titled “Notes” that explains, for changes and failures, how I want it to work or what it’s doing wrong. I’ve been popping out to the site since I sent the test plan over, watching the objects start to line up to my expectations.

Once the site functions to specification on my Windows 10 desktop, I’ll need to re-executed the plan on my Android phone, my Windows 8 Surface, and my Android tablet. I’ll also need to find friends to execute it on a Mac and an iPhone and verify that it works correctly in those environments.

Then, and only then, will I fork over the rest of the money.

I hope to be able to show off the rest of the site by next month. One takeaway from this exercise has been: Leave LOTS of extra time in your project plan for things that are out of your control: website work, editing and cover design.

Any thoughts on websites (mine, yours, others) you’d like to share?


8 thoughts on “Jeanne: September progress report and a sneak peek

  1. That is a beautiful header! I think it’s quite a good match for what I’ve read of your work!

    Also, thank you so much for this. I have no real idea how to test for features, and now I do.

    Do you have any suggestions for figuring out what features a person would want on their website? (-: I bet that could be a whole blog post on its own!

  2. The company I worked with provided a questionnaire that helped me think that through. The questionnaire prompted me to survey other author websites, which further helped me clarify what I wanted on my own site. When it’s ready to share, maybe my site can help you think about what you want on yours.

  3. As you already know, I love the concept and the header. I think the tone is a great match for your demon stories.

    On a selfish note, I’m so glad you’re working through this project now and sharing the details with us, because I need to reinvent my own website before I publish the Alexis books next year, and I think your experiences will be invaluable in helping me to figure out what I need and how to approach the project. Thank you!

    • I’d love to help with that!Oh, good. Sometimes I worry these progress reports come across like me yakking on endlessly about myself. The purpose is to share what I’m learning so others can skip making some of my mistakes.

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