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Let’s call this one the ‘best practices’ post.

As part of my efforts to keep TabletopPublishers.com up to date, and also to ensure I have good info on publishers, I’ve spent literally hundreds of hours researching well over 1,000 websites of board game publishers. (A lot of them are smaller publishers that aren’t currently accepting submissions, so they’re not included in the aforementioned database. They’re still tracked, though – you never know when they’ll be looking for games!)

For this exercise, I’m primarily looking at a publisher’s primary website, as best as I could identify it from public information. If your choice is to make a different website for each of your games, I think most of these principles will also apply to those as well.

Good: social media icons

They’re an iconic (sorry) part of most modern themes, and commonly found in the same sort of places (a corner, a footer, maybe a sidebar). No need to reinvent the wheel here, just make sure the links go to your official accounts. If there’s more than one, pick the accounts linked to the company, not the game. No need to have an account at every single social media offering, just show the icons for the ones you have.

Good: store page and checkout process

Assuming you have something to sell, make it easy for someone to buy it. Optimize the check-out process – you don’t need a customer’s address, phone number and other details to give away a free PDF.

It’s also fine to have the store hosted on an external site, or to link to your official e-commerce presence. Whatever works for you, so long as it’s smooth, secure, and as frictionless as possible.

Good: bios and names

Who are you? What is your background in game design? What is your role within the company?

You’d be surprised how few publishers share what feels like basic information about the people behind it. The designer’s names are usually on Board Game Geek anyway (showing as ‘N/A’ on anything made today is a red flag, personally – why won’t the publisher credit the designer?)

Bonus points for your pronouns (if comfortable) and pronunciation guides – if we ever chat or meet IRL, I want to nail it on the first try.

Good: specific dates

When was your game released, or when does the campaign start? This should be an ‘above the fold’ sort of thing (on the top part of the page before the user starts scrolling down).

Things are weird right now, so specific dates may be more challenging to nail down. You may want to say ‘Spring’ instead of ‘March’, and that’s fine. Once you have one, rally the fans to share it, know it, and show up for it.

Good: specific calls to action

What do you want the user to do once they’ve arrived? Any of the following are acceptable, and there are other goals that also work:

  • Click through to a crowdfunding site / back the current game
  • Read about your latest game
  • Order a game from your store page
  • Sign up for your newsletter
  • Follow you on social media
  • Join your Discord
  • Read your blog post / designer diary

Other stuff might be present on your site (such as an About page or a Contact page), but that’s probably not where you want them to go. Pick one or two things you want them to do, then make the biggest / most obvious buttons go to those actions.

This will change based on where your game is and what’s coming up for you, naturally, so be prepared to update the website as the game progresses.

Good: a revisions / checking policy

This is more a matter of checking things from the back end to make sure things that are visible are correct, up-to-date, and supposed to be visible. Depending on traffic and time available, this might be a once-a-quarter or a once-a-year thing. Whenever you do it, use a different browser or go Incognito / Private Browsing to see things as non-logged-in users will.

Bad: no submissions information

I’m going to put this first because it’s a blindspot for about 75-80% of the publishers I’ve tried to research. I’m of the belief that every publishing company needs to have information on whether they’re accepting submissions or not.

It’s a simple question with a simple answer – either you are, and it’s worth spelling out what you’re looking for and how to send something to you, or you’re not, and it’s worth mentioning that. Bonus points for mentioning why – it’s fine to say you have a backlog, or you’ve signed enough games until 2027. If you go back and forth, make sure that’s an easy page to update.

Personally, on my Contact page as of this blog post says: “Game designers: Entro Games is a one-man show, and my sole focus right now is my own ideas. Thanks for checking me out, but I do not accept game submissions or prototypes.” I don’t personally see Entro Games working with outside designers (except for co-designs), but a couple of sentences helps to make it clear for anyone checking me out for the first time.

Bad: no dates (or old dates in the future tense)

Picture any ‘Coming soon!’ sort of banner, then having no idea what ‘soon’ is… or was… Worse is when something says it’s coming soon…  in 2016. (Yes, I have actually seen this.) Stuff like this can lead people into thinking you haven’t edited this page / site since that info was current…

Bad: forgetting about Board Game Geek

Love them or hate them, it’s the biggest website in our industry. For many people, if it’s not on the Geek, it doesn’t exist. See their official guidelines here.

Your company has (or can have) a page, and each game you publish has its own page. They are interconnected in a few different ways, and you can see how they interlink by clicking links for one of your favorite links. Make sure these pages also aren’t referring to past dates in the future tense (another thing I’ve seen a number of times).

This is another great guide to making BGG work for you.

Bad: links that don’t work

It’s surprisingly common to upload an image, plan to add a link to that image, and then forget to do so. URL’s change over time (especially after a domain name change or a re-brand)

Broken link plugins can help with that, as can Google Analytics or other analytical tools.

Over to you

What else do you have on your website? Comments are open.

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