Not everyone can afford to have their website designed for them. Especially if you’re not being paid, because nobody is buying your amazing paintings. Yet we all know how important it is to have a good online presence. We Google everyone else, so why wouldn’t they be Googling us? You’re going to make your website yourself, but how do you make sure it isn’t just good, but great? I know it won’t be easy, but follow these 6 steps, and you’ll have a great website.
I’ll give away the most important step of all first: your work, make it visible. There’s just about nothing worse than an artist’s website with no images to look at. People are on there to view your work, so make sure it is the first thing they actually see, the moment they land on your page. Even if your work isn’t visual, make sure people can somehow see it in their browser.
Don’t leave it at that! Have many images available in just a few clicks. Take into consideration how much effort it takes to get from image to image, but be wary of putting them all on the home page. It’s a real hassle to scroll down forever, just to find that one project.
Can your visitors discern who you are, and what you do, from the first page they see? They want to know what they’re looking at, and who made it, straight away. Imagine your visitors being people that have never heard of you. Consider what the first impression will be; you want them to see what you make, but also who you are.
Don't forget to caption your images. It's easy to forget to describe something you're so familiar with. What is it they're looking at, is it a painting, a photograph of a painting or an installation with a painting? Give your visitors a clear picture of your work, and minimise the effort on their side.
The most common problem on artists’ websites is probably images that are too large. Of course you want to show those high quality photos of your latest exhibition, and you want to give the full-screen experience, but this is the internet, and the internet is slow. Your pictures don't have to be optimised for printing, they have to be optimised for mobile phones and poor connections.
Why have your visitors wait extra for something they'll never experience? If your maximum width is set to a thousand pixels, stick to that and export your images with a width of a thousand pixels. Oftentimes it is unnecessary to show high-definition 4K print optimised images. Find out what the perfect size for your pictures is, and serve nothing more than that!
Update your website frequently, or get someone to do it for you. Absolutely nothing is worse than having your visitors arrive in a ghost town. Especially if you have newer, better work finished. Show people what you're doing right now. You're making work, show it. Have your website reflect just how active you really are.
This doesn't mean you should start a blog and post updates on your work in progress. But an update to your portfolio once every three months sure is better than once every year!
Sure it is easy to copy and paste your resume onto your website. Maybe they've probably taught you to do precisely that. But is it necessary? You can trim away the language skills, work experience and what high school you went to and stick to the bare essentials.
Try and give your visitors a quick picture of your practice. That lengthy 800 word biography could perhaps be summarised in 200 words. Over half the web users in 2018 are mobile users. We all know how awful reading is on a phone. So get that story of yours across quickly, if they want to know more, they'll definitely click-through and read the rest.
Be concise not just in content, but also in design. The age of flash-animated landing pages is far behind us, and let's leave it like that. Think content first, everything else second. Your website should highlight your work, not the other way around.
A good portion of your visitors won't find your website before they Google your name. You've probably tried Googling yourself before. Did you get the results you want others to get? You want your website to appear as the top result, and your best images to appear on top on the images tab.
Search engines are tough, they want to show the best match for the keyword you're searching. The best match doesn't always mean your website. If your website is slow, outdated, not designed with mobile users in mind, and the list really goes on, your page will be pushed down in the results.
Being the top result for your name means serving relevant and unique content. A good domain name (johndoe.com) and mentioning your name on your website is a great start.
Having your images in Google starts when you upload them to your website. Don't upload your images with names like Scan-finalexport2-asdf.jpg, but take a moment to rename it to Big Canvas by John Doe.jpg. You should also tell Google what's on the image with a good alt text. You can read more about alt texts here.