Penny Hancock, novelist

Penny Hancock website mockups and varied devices

Elisabeth worked attentively with me to build my website. She took care to really listen to what I wanted it to do, ( not just to sell books, but to represent my work as an author and teacher) and came up with a design and aesthetic that I have been thrilled with. In addition to which she has helped me to maintain and adapt the site over the years. I can't recommend her highly enough.

There’s something magical about writing a novel, a poem or something  else brand new and unique. So, I was very excited when Penny Hancock asked me to create a website to promote her fiction writing. She needed a refresh of her online presence in advance of her new novel, I Thought I Knew You. She has published five novels and featured on the Richard and Judy Book Club. Penny has served as a Royal Literary Fellow, at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge UK.

Plans and Priorities

We first met at Milton Country Park on a sunny day and decided to take down her ‘broken’ website, putting up a holding page. I worked on the new site – creating the  layout and framework for the content that she would write herself.

She decided her novels and other writings and her popular Writing School classes should be the main priority. I organised the site navigation to make those things very easy to find. She retired her blog and decided to feature occasional articles, without the pressure to create content on a regular basis.

Brand colours

Sessions College Colour Picker Tool

We chose an aubergine purple shade (a serious, grown up colour with a bit of class), along with paler yellow and green for backgrounds in sidebar and footers. I used a colour wheel tool  tweaked the shades until they felt right to both Penny and me.

Social links

Social media is an important way for writers to connect with readers and promote their books and other activities. These include readings, book festival appearances, reviews, writing classes, etc. The site  has clear social links so twitter, instagram etc where Penny can interact with readers.

Calls to action/bookshop buttons

Revisiting her marketing plans made Penny take the plunge and get organised with an author page on Amazon Central. We can link from her site to a page featuring all her books where potential customers can easily buy them.  Penny was keen to support independent bookshops so we have an attractive button thanks to the Booksellers Association. This takes you to a page where you can enter your postcode to find your nearest independent bookshop. Finally, we link to hive.co.uk, an online book retailer supporting local bookshops.

Using the site

Penny wants writing to be her ‘main thing’ and not have to get dragged into faffing with a website. We’re working together intensively in the first couple of months of her having the site ‘in her own hands’. I’ll learn which bits she needs a tutorial on, and which bits are easy to use intuitively.

To keep the budget reasonable we chose some fantastic free-to-use images from Unsplash and are delighted to credit the photographers below. We used pixlr.com to crop and resize them for the web. It’s an excellent web-based tool that allows people to adapt images in quite sophisticated ways for little or no outlay.

In terms of the system behind the site I used WordPress.org, as always, in conjunction with the versatile GeneratePress theme. I also use a number of plugins which add functionality to the site as required.

I’m looking forward to having further contact with Penny and hoping some of her creative magic will rub off on me! She has some pages for reading group questions planned so watch this space…

See the website: www.pennyhancock.com

Thank you to the following Unsplash photographers for the images we used when designing the site: