How to build a website with Bookswarm

Kjell Eldor reflects on the anatomy of a successful project.

We recently worked with the editorial team at Walker Books to create a micro-site for their new publication Get Coding! In this case study I’ll share with you how we bring website projects to life at Bookswarm.

The product

The fully-illustrated book teaches cget codinghildren aged 7+ how to code and build their own website, app and game using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. The book consists of 6 fun missions, which take the reader through the basic concepts of coding whilst ‘gamifying’ the process.

The book was produced in collaboration with Young Rewired State, who run “a global community of digital makers aged 18 and under”.

The brief

The brief was to create a micro-site which added value to the book by helping readers with the missions within. We worked with Walker Books to create a site architecture that allows users to easily find the section of the book they’re in, and drill down to specific code snippets they need.

After our initial project kick-off meeting we wrote up a Creative Brief, which defined every aspect of the project from audiences and objectives; to tone and visual design.

We then worked together to create a set of wireframes (or line drawings) to define the most logical and user-friendly site structure, using an online tool called UXPin:

homepage

Once Walker Books were happy with our vision, we used the wireframes and Creative Brief to create a set of visual designs:

Get Coding home 01

The visual design incorporated illustrations from within the book and the book’s branding to deliver a clear and coherent look and feel.

Creative lead Hazel Miles said:

It was nice to work with such colourful and fun illustrations, it gave me plenty of eye catching elements to use in the design. The book had a clearly defined style that needed to be applied to the website which was fun and engaging – both for me when designing it and for the end user.

After a short process of tweaking and refining these we had a set of designs which we could use to build the fully functional website.

We use WordPress for all our websites, meaning the client can independently content manage their site once the development process is complete.

The result

One of the key features of the end product was to be able to share HTML code with users which they could copy, edit and work with. Our technical lead Alex Watson found a neat solution for this:

I suggested CodePen as a tool for displaying the code snippets as it makes it easy for visitors to see how the code works right there on the website.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 11.41.20

Code Pen is a third party site which allows users to save code and display it on a website. This not only means we can display the code, but it means that users can click through, create a Code Pen account and save their work as they work through the missions within the book.

This a lovely touch to the website, that added real value to the book too.

Walker Books had their content organised and saved in Word documents, ready to upload to the site. They did this whilst we completed Desktop and Mobile testing to make sure the site was perfect across multiple devices.

My job, as Bookswarm’s project lead, was to make sure I supported the client throughout the whole process; right from our initial requirements gathering meeting to the final handover training session.

Walker Books Editor, and project lead Daisy Jellicoe said:

I really enjoyed working with Bookswarm. Kjell was great at explaining how the website would be designed and built, and was very helpful throughout the entire process. We’re really pleased with the end result. Thanks, Bookswarm!

Lead Developer Alex Watson reflected on the project:

I really loved developing this website as it reminded me how much I enjoyed learning to code when I did it myself many years ago.

The website launched on the publication day of the book and has already been enjoyed by many of the books’ readers.

As with all of our websites Walker Books have access to Bookswarms’ bespoke support feature, meaning their site is supported by us into the future.

Screen Shot 2016-05-11 at 12.01.28

Bookswarm Director Simon Appleby concluded:

We’ve built many micro-sites for the publishing trade, and each one represents a new and fresh challenge. We were very pleased to work with Walker Books on this latest project. And who knows, maybe later on in our careers members of our team will work with young coders who were inspired to code by this very book!

Visit the finished Get Coding website

 

Five ways to excel on Amazon

0c5aacf3f358a056c5901b14dce9c8a9f9e45841It’s time for the second in our series of guest posts. Leila Dewji co-founded I_AM Self-Publishing to help self-publishing authors get to market in the most professional way possible. Here she shares some of the tips that her authors use to get one step ahead of the competition on Amazon.

Let’s face – it Amazon sells more books and eBooks than anyone else. Whether you are a self-published or traditionally published author, getting your book’s presence right on Amazon is crucial. Although the mysterious machinations of Amazon’s algorithm are yet to be totally cracked, there are several simple things you can do to give your book the best shot of being discovered on Amazon that don’t require any super-geeky knowledge.

Before we start, one thing for all authors and publishers to remember is that Amazon is a search engine (like Google, but all the searches are carried out by customers ready to buy). Think about how powerful that is.

Register information with Nielsen ASAP

Even if you don’t have all the final title information, send whatever you have to Nielsen as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter if you need to make changes to it later on – Nielsen can normally push these through the system in a few days. It’s great to upload the cover as soon as you have it, but don’t wait on that to register the ISBN. This isn’t just my advice, at Nielsen’s conference for independent publishers last year, this is exactly what they said. About a week after you have registered title information with Nielsen, Amazon will ingest the data and you will have the skeleton of a product page.

Claim and Jazz Up Your Amazon Author Page

As soon as there is a product page for your book on Amazon you can join Amazon’s Author Central program. Your Amazon author page is your base on the retailer’s site and it allows you to give readers some additional information about yourself, such as a short biography, pictures, videos, upcoming events and live feeds for your social media networks. Most authors do not make the most of their author page, but it is really worth spending some time on it. Check out Patricia Cornwell’s page, for a good example.

Research Your Niche/Sub-Chart

1One huge advantage of Amazon over your lovely local independent bookshop is its vast range. There are so many titles that in order to marshal them into a semblance of order, they have created a very detailed classification system. For example, giving a title a YA BIC or BISAC code and hoping it will feature in a YA chart will no longer work; you need to know which sub-chart within YA you want to feature in. Within the Teen and Young Adult section on the Kindle store, there are 18 subcategories. You can easily get a sense of which of these are the most competitive. The screenshot here shows that the competition in these sub charts ranges from a few hundred to tens of thousands (you are looking for a chart with the least competition).

Drill down and repeat this exercise e.g. If I choose ‘mysteries and thrillers’ then ‘romantic’ I find that the competition is now only 700, whereas the competition for ‘romance’ is 15,000. It’s a numbers game – you are looking for a chart small enough for you to stand a good change of hitting the top 10. Use this sub-chart name in your Kindle metadata, along with your other keywords. There may be several good small sub-charts that you want to feature in, put all those tags in your metadata.

SEO Your Product Page

On-page key word density counts and your product page there will be a lot of text that you can control:

  • Title
  • Subtitle
  • Series Name
  • Blurb/product description
  • The first few lines of your Author Central biog.

You need to get your keywords in these as much as possible (whilst still making sense). For example, If you want your book to rank for something like ‘historical fiction’ then make sure you use that keyword in your blurb and in the first couple of lines of your author biography on your Amazon Author page e.g. ‘I have always read historical fiction, and been a great fan of authors such as Hilary Mantel…’ might be a good way to start. In simple terms this means that you are really hammering home to Amazon that ‘historical fiction’ is what your product page is all about.

Use The Same Link

Once your book or eBook is live on Amazon you will want to share the link. However, there are lots of different URLs that will link to the same page – if someone has searched by author name they will get one URL, if they have searched by title they will get another, if they have searched by topic they will get another. You want to try and standardise things and have the same URL feature across the Internet in as many places as possible. The more links on the Internet to a particular Amazon URL, the more important Amazon will think it is, which will help with rankings.

If you just type your product name into Amazon you will get a really long URL. For example, if you search for the Booker winner A Brief History of Seven Killings by typing this into Amazon’s main search box, you will get a list of results with the book you want at the top. If you click on that, you will go through to a product page with a very messy URL:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Brief-History-Seven-Killings-WINNER/dp/1780746350/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1455107666&sr=8-1&keywords=A+Brief+History+of+Seven+Killings.

2

 

If Marlon James started sharing this URL, he wouldn’t be doing himself any favours. What authors need to do is delete everything after the 10 digit ISBN or ASIN and share this link e.g.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Brief-History-Seven-Killings-WINNER/dp/1780746350

This will send people to the same place.

Bonus Tip: Get as many reviews as you can. Encourage everyone who reads the book to leave an honest review on Amazon. You might want to add a page at the back of your book specifically asking readers for this feedback.

I hope that’s given you some good ideas. If you have any other tips or questions about any of these please tweet me at @iamselfpub.