I know some authors don't find a need to have a website, but I definitely do. Here's why. When people who don't know me look me up online, they'll find my website first. Google me and you'll see that my website comes up at the top of the search results. Sure my blog is also there in the search results, but if people aren't bloggers, they get a little intimidated by blogs.
Most of the people who contact me are teachers, readers, or parents of kids who have read my books. They look for a website, and they look for a contact me page so they can get in touch with me. So I spend a lot of time updating my website, keeping it current with what's going on with my writing. My home page has a News section with whatever is going on right now that I want people to be aware of. It's the first thing they see when they land on my page—well, under my custom banner slideshow that displays my books.
I also have my bio, press kit, and FAQ for any media personnel who stop by my site. Everything is right there for them to find in one spot. And I recently added a virtual business card that looks like this:
I know I'm most likely not the first person to use a virtual business card (even if I'd love to take credit for the idea) but I think it's a great idea. You can't hand your business card to everyone in the world, but if it's on your website, anyone can see it.
When I first created a website, I went with a free site. I quickly learned that having a custom domain is very important. Custom domains are easier to search for, and we want people to find us online. I now have a premium website with a custom domain, and I think it's money well spent. The proof is in the number of emails I get through my contact me form on my website. People are using my site, and that makes me very happy.
So yeah, I believe in author websites. How about you? Do you think author websites are important?