– Stephen King
Well, I’m still not sure if it’s more productive or not to find things we dislike rather than like, but here’s what I do know: I love Stephen King’s website.
It’s the polar opposite of Stephenie Meyer’s, in both content and design. Stephen King (Stephenie, Stephen—interesting coincidence there, eh?) has not only produced a much vaster (and far superior) body of work but has also managed to hire an excellent web designer and team of professionals to help him. Just look at his latest book cover (see picture above)! It’s so smooth and sexy, yet simple, which also happens to be a perfect description of his website.
The layout of the home page (and the entire site, in fact) is crisp, symmetrical, and has great contrast. A Flash slideshow at the top of the page announces King’s latest endeavors and books, while a tabbed menu runs along the top to navigate from page to page. When necessary (on subsequent pages), a well-implemented vertical menu appears to the left, unlike the plain, ugly, looks-like-a-mistake vertical menu of Meyer’s website. Text is sometimes divided into two columns—e.g., in order to separate news updates from product/book releases (on the home page), showcase certain multimedia items as distinct from multimedia news (on the Multimedia page), and minimize scrolling (on the FAQ page). Likewise, text and pictures are divided into two invisible but distinct columns (on the Misc. page), providing a crisp and beautiful but small separating line that announces close association between picture and text while still providing a little distance. Finally, while the website does use Arial, it does not do so exclusively, as the large section headers as well as the top matter (tabbed menu, etc.) are set in seriffed fonts like Times New Roman, to provide a little contrast and, therefore, separate the different elements of the page.
As far as content goes, King has taken great care to provide a wealth of information about his works and himself. Whereas Meyer’s page looks almost amateurish and barren, King’s is sophisticated, full, and dark, and it matches his personality as well as those of his characters. It is essentially another extension of his work, adding to the dozens of movies, miniseries, electronic stories/books, and other projects based on King’s work. For instance, he is currently in the middle of a project wherein he invites readers to take photographs that have some connection to his body of work and send them in (e.g., King’s Cross station in London shares his name and, King jokes, there must be a Deschain Bakery and something like a “Welcome to Stephenville” sign that can be photographed, somewhere in the world). FYI, if you don’t know, Deschain is one of King’s memorable characters.
In short, this is the website of a great writer who has been around the block a time or two and who, most importantly, has a strong, established voice and style. King knows himself, his characters, and his readers, and his website reflects this knowledge. His fictional world is generally so real and truthful, so well-crafted, that the seam of the “lie”/myth/fantasy is barely noticeable; likewise, the structure and design of his website are both so fitting and proper that they do not hinder the reader’s online surfing experience.
Meyer could learn a thing or two (or fifty) from him.
*NOTE: This blog entry is syndicated from a blog I had to start for my Electronic Publishing class at U.B. this semester. I may or may not delete the extraneous blog when the class is over, but I thought I would at least give my readers the opportunity to read the contents of that blog indefinitely.