Website redesign: reader input wanted!


It is time for me to update my website, for the July release of my new novel, For the King. For the content I will include, as I had done for Mistress of the Revolution, an excerpt, a bibliography, a Q&A session and a book club section. That’s the easy part. Now, about the design?


I love the deep red background wallpaper I had chosen for Mistress, which you can also see on this blog, but it clashes with the cover of For the King, which its shimmering turquoise gown. Also, as much as I like the visuals of this cover, it doesn’t scream “historical thriller.” So why not use the wallpaper of the redesigned website to convey an urban noir feel?

Easier said (or written) than done. So I went to the sites of authors of historical thrillers I enjoy. I visited the site of Louis Bayard, author of The Black Tower, also set in Paris, very close in time to my own For the King. Plain black background. You can’t get more noir than that, can you? It is simple and striking, but Louis has a lot of red in the rest of the page design to liven it up. And again red won’t go with my cover. I don’t think this kind of background would work for me.

So I moved on to the site of David Liss, author of Conspiracy of Paper and other acclaimed novels in the Benjamin Weaver series. Historical thrillers/mysteries all right, and though his 17th century London is not my 1800 Paris, it is close enough to give me ideas. It turns out that the colors of Mr. Liss’s background (brown and old gold) fit the cover of For the King AND convey the somber mood I would like to impart. Do you agree?

Now, dear readers, I need your help. Should I, like David Liss, use brown without any pattern (except for the goldish squiggly on top, which I like) or should I go for a figurative background? A few suggestions: an 18th century printed or handwritten document? an image of the Rue Nicaise attack, the starting point of the novel? an image of Paris at the time, like this view of the Conciergerie?

Any other ideas? I am listening…


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18 Comments to “Website redesign: reader input wanted!”

  1. Thanks for sharing this article . I will be back soon on your blog .

  2. Penny says:

    I looked at the David Liss site and I would love it for your blog space. I was able to read every word unlike this current one and the colors did suggest
    drama, mystery and thriller. All the things that represent your 2nd book plot.
    This is getting exciting.

  3. Catherine Delors says:

    Dear all, thank you for the suggestions! As things stand, I think I will stay French (the best advice of all, Penny and Richard!) keep the same damask background, and switch to a darker color. Which darker color? That is the question. Stay tuned!

  4. I will leave your blog just as it is, except at the top put the image of the Conciergerie, which will go with both books.

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  7. Hmmm. I think the bigger issue is overall site/author branding consistency, rather than shifting your design for every book. My two cents is just to take the damask pattern background you have and change the color so it works better with the FOR THE KING cover. That’s easy enough to do in Photoshop or another image editor. Personally, I would avoid going too stark (as in the Bayard site) — even if there is a noir-ish quality to your new book, it’s still a historical drama. If you’re going to do a background image such as the Conciergerie, I’d be really subtle and careful about it.

    Whatever you do, I’m sure it will be beautiful. And I’m sure the new book is wonderful – can’t wait to see it out and about! Congrats!

  8. CAROLE says:


  9. Penny says:

    My first instinct was B/W like Woody Allen’s movies about NYC. But then I saw this page and decided to add the me too approach. Dark colors work for that genre.
    But please don’t give up on 18thc France.

  10. I love the view of the Conciergerie. It draws the viewer in and makes them wonder what awaits them in this new setting. Bayard’s setting is too dark and Liss’s setting is too plain although I do like the color scheme. That color scheme would go well with the picture of the Conciergerie too. Since it is “For the King” I would suggest some additional design (like the swirl on either side of “the” on the book cover) used at the top, in order to make it more elegant/regal.

    Whatever you choose I am sure it will be lovely. Looking forward to seeing the finished site!

  11. Pam says:

    Hello Catherine! My suggestion is to use the rich green and turquoise for your background. The gradations in the green are very ‘ombre’ and the turquoise is delicious and eye-catching. Besides, lead with your new book. Do a deeper page on Mistress with the Mistress palette. Whatever you do it’ll be terrific. All good, Pam

  12. Richard says:

    Bayrd is too dark, Liss is too English. Stay French!

  13. Suzanne says:

    I, like several other commenters, find that picture of the Conciergerie to be striking. Whether or not you decide to use it, I think it might be worth it to consider using some kind of a background that conveys the period, as well as the tone of the novel, because, as I may have said before, the cover art alone does lead one to believe it’s set in the late 19th century.

  14. Catherine Delors says:

    Thank you, Sandra, Sybil, Linda, Felio!

    Yes, Sandra, I found David Liss’s website very evocative. I like the fleur-de-lys idea very much… or should it be imperial eagles (beginning of the reign of Bonaparte…)

    Linda and Felio, I too like the Conciergerie. And much of the novel takes place at the Police Prefecture, which was then located towards the right end of the painting!

  15. Felio Vasa says:

    I like the image if the Conciergerie!!! A lot!

  16. Linda says:

    I really like the image of the Conciergerie–the way the light hits the first building and the dock. I think you should incorporate it.

  17. Sybil Case says:

    Catherine: My 2 cents worth: (I am a designer, but of interiors, not websites…still, may be helpful).
    I think you could accomplish the noir (ish) angle with color and reference the concept of “king” as it is prominent in your title…somehow. Maybe using a black and gold or black and white (old document looking) symbol of the king. ( King’s Seal?) or fleur de lis, sword emblem or something like that in a wallpaper pattern. I think the figurative scenes are too literal and take away from the cover which does shimmer and should be set against something more matte to punch the colors even further.
    There you have it.
    Best wishes….Sybil

  18. I like the Liss website. It’s both rich and scary: a great combination. I also like the light background for the central section — easier to read.



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