Over time, I have evolved some firm opinions about what should be on Author and Publisher websites. It seems only fair to put them up here so that others can shoot at them.
In brief, the point of an Author website is to own and control all the information about your products so that you can tell readers what they want to know and turn them into fans who will buy your next book. It's really that simple. Almost no one builds their first Author website with that in mind, however, and it can take quite a while for them to clarify what they're doing with it.
Let's explore what that mission statement means, in a 4-page post…
1. Your author website is the central point for all information about books & author
If your Author website is going to be the place where everyone comes to find out about your books, no matter where they ran across you, then there are some logical implications.
1.1 It must be owned and controlled by the author
This is how you are represented to the world. It is your fundamental platform. It belongs to you and you don't want to ever lose control over it. You have to control its domain name and its web hosting.
1.1.1 Domain names (URLs)
That means you should own your domain (URL). Find an unused domain based on your name, if you can, but since it should match the name you use as an author that will be difficult if you have a common name or if you have multiple pen names that you want to combine on a single author site.
In that case, use a conceptual name or combine your name with something to make it unique (MyCommonNameBooks). Neither of those choices is ideal, but I favor the conceptual name (e.g., HollowLands) over the combo-author name, because the latter seems more amateurish to me. Some authors with pen names prefer one site per pen name.
Keep in mind that if you choose to write in multiple genres, a conceptual name will need to be broadly applicable (“NoirWorlds” might not work well for a Christian Romance diversification).
You will own your domain name (URL) for as long as you pay for it. That's the closest thing to permanent we have for the internet. If there is a successor in twenty years (the internet was barely around thirty years ago), I would expect to retain unique ownership to whatever succeeds it.
There are free web-hosting services, but you should host your site using a service that you control and pay for (and you can usually consolidate your domain renewals there, too).
If you host it on someone else's free site, like WordPress.com, what will you do if they change the rules or go out of business? If you're using WordPress.com, switch to WordPress.org instead and find a hosting service that supports it (they all do). If you decide to change to a different hosting service later, that is a common business practice and all reputable hosting services make that a straightforward task.
Your site should be maintained in industry-standard software (WordPress is a common choice with many lovely templates). It is far better to use a standard platform rather than an individually designed and built custom website — that's much more difficult to maintain, dependent on the person/firm that built it, and you may have a non-functional site if something goes wrong and there's a delay in fixing it. Big companies can afford to hire techies to write and maintain their websites — you can't.
The favored software platform for building websites like yours will change over time, and you should anticipate having to upgrade it every couple of years or so within the basic software (e.g., new WordPress templates) or moving to a new software platform every 5-10 years. That will mean re-creating all the static pages and as many of the blog pages (and their comments) as you think useful.
No software platform lives forever. None of them. This will happen, and you should plan for it now.
There's no reason for any of this to cost much. I pay about $12/year for the HollowLands domain. I own about a dozen websites, and the cost of hosting all of them is well under $100/year. Each lets me set up unique email addresses (e.g., KarenMyers@HollowLands.com) that I forward to my single primary personal email for convenience.
I used to build websites by hand (in the bad old days when this was necessary) but now all of them are based on WordPress with various templates, all are mobile-friendly, and all are easy to maintain.
If you don't feel that you are capable of figuring out how to do this and call someone in to help you, be sure you have them document what they're doing and explain it to you, in case they become unavailable or you need another helper later.
The best help would be someone who sets you up in a standard environment like WordPress, instead of a custom-built one. That one-time cost is a tradeoff for you acquiring the knowledge to do it yourself, and if they explain it well to you, you might become empowered to do your own support when the time comes.