Making a website is a vital part of your success as an artist. It is your shop front, your gallery, your opportunity to show the world your art.
Graeme has recently finished his new website Graemestevensonart.com and has a series of tips for you to consider when creating yours. Whether someone is creating your site for you or you are creating your own, the tips we have listed below will help you make the most of this opportunity. This is a transcript form Graeme’s webinar 25 tips on creating a great artist website.
1. Heading text
Don’t make the heading font so fancy or elaborate you can’t read it. Many artists use the old English text that you can’t read. Avoid that.
Stick with fonts like Calibi , Arial or Cambria. Try a “sans” font a letterform is one that does not have extending features called “serifs” at the end of strokes. Sans-serif fonts tend to have less line width variation than serif fonts.
2. Tiny text
Consider the size of your text. It is useless making it so small you can’t read anything on the website, but don’t make it overly large. A 14 or 16pt is generally a good size for readability.
3. Broken links
Broken links or 404s are a nightmare to look out for. 404 was actually a room in the Pentagon – because the web was designed in the sixties – and they started putting all the stuff they didn’t know about, or was breaking down, or links that weren’t working into the room 404 Pentagon. The name stuck.
Many people don’t go back and check their websites. You’ve got to do that regularly, because links do break down. The CIYL site’s a great example – it’s so huge these days, we’ve got overseas servers who help us putting all this together, but we have to continually check links because it’s such a massive website, that there are links that do break down, and you’ll end up with ‘sorry’ or ‘404’.
4. Contact me
Some websites do not show their email address or it’s hidden to such an extent that you really can’t find it. Your website is a major funnel for you to secure leads for prospective clients, customers or patrons.
I find irritating when I can’t find an email address and have to complete a form.
If somebody’s interested in what you’re doing they what to know how to contact you. Provide them with as many options as possible including phone number, your social media links and an email address. There is of course a risk that you will receive spam if you put your email address on your website but, if you don’t put your email address there, you may lose an interested prospect. You need to consider what is more important for you, receiving emails from prospects or not getting spam. My advice is don’t use the contact forms, or have them there, as well as your email address as well.
5. Word limits on contact pages.
Watch out for word limits on contact pages. Some contact forms only allow a limited amount of words in the form but you don’t realise when composing your letter until you are cut off.
- Good size images of your art work are vital for your website. Your website is an exhibition space your gallery. You need to provide images that are of a good size, and easy to view. Images that are too small show that you don’t value your work but place images that are too large means the website takes ages to load.
- You also need to be aware of the resolution of your images. Don’t make the resolution too high as this will allow people to steal it and reproduce it,that’s happened to me in the past.Make them large enough so that people can see them, view themand make the decision if they want to purchase or not.
- Steer away from watermarking your image. Prospects come to your website to view your work. Placing a watermark on your image disturbs the viewing. You want to make the website viewing as unencumbered and as enjoyable as possible to view.
7. Slide shows
Don’t make your image slideshow too fast or too slow. Images that move too fast around gets annoying for people coming in to look at your work. Put your slide show on medium speed (2-3 seconds) or don’t have a slide show and let the user decide about what they want to see.
8. Cluttered pages
Don’t have too much on one page. When you’ve got stuff everywhere, it looks untidy and messy.
Present yourself and your art so anyone can understand what you’re up to.
I’ve seen some websites where there is just stuff everywhere. It is really messy.
Websites are a representation of who are you and what you are doing. They should be clean and crisp. We recommend a white background with black text because there’s generally enough colour in your art work. Coloured text on a different coloured background and makes it hard to read. If anyone has to squint to read they’re not going to stay on your site.
9. Put your name up front and centre
We’ve actually gone into artists websites, where the artist has put stuff up, but they don’t actually have their name anywhere.
10. Add your location
In this world where you can find people from any country on line, it is good to have your location. Often artists do not identify where they live. You might have a dot com address, but where are you from? It’s great to know what state and what country you are from.
11. 3rd party advertising
Unless someone is actually working with you or you have an agreement, try and avoid advertising on your site. If they’re an art group, or an art society and you work directly with them that’s fantastic. But if they’re not giving you any assistance, don’t put it up there. It just clutters the page and makes it look messy.
12. Get your own domain name
It can be expensive to have websites. The CIYL website costs a fortune to maintain on a monthly basis but it is very extensive with galleries, forums and shopping carts. But, it is really important to have your own website and domain name. If someone searches for you online and they find you do not have your own site, it is an indication to dealers, or galleries that you’re really not serious about doing business. That you are not ready yet. There are many sites to buy your domain name at all different prices. Godaddy.com is one domain retailer.
13. Make sure your website looks the same on every search engine and is mobile friendly.
There are several search engines, including Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari. Make sure your website is consistent on all of them. consistent. In addition, your site should also be mobile friendly, easy to scroll down on phone.
14. Link your social media and website
Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter act as a marketing funnel for people to reach your website. Once they are on your website then you can attempt to sell them a product or service. It is really important to link your website to all your social networking pages.
15. Keep your main menu options to a minimum
I have five options on mine and I divided my artwork into three different categories. One’s called Animalium, one The Universal Principles and the other is People in Strange Places. There is no need to have listings everywhere.
16. Describe and explain your art work
Put good solid content on your website. Put the story about what the work is actually about. Don’t just put ‘ a red flower on a mountain top’. Explain where you were and what you were doing. Create a little narrative. This makes a big differenceas it helps to engage the reader. Consider accompanying each body of work with its own explanation or introduction.
17. Link to other sites correctly
Use information specific linksso that people are aware of where they’re going, what they’re doing. Don’t put links to other websites unless you know who you are linking to.
18. Don’t ask people to subscribe just to be able to get into the website
You will lose them in the time it takes to work out a password and login.
An HTTP cookie (also called web cookie, Internet cookie, browser cookie, or simply cookie) is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored on the user’s computer by the user’s web browser while the user is browsing. Cookies were designed to be a reliable mechanism for websites to remember useful information (such as items added in the shopping cart in an online store) or to record the user’s browsing activity (including clicking particular buttons, logging in, or recording which pages were visited in the past). They can also be used to remember arbitrary pieces of information that the user previously entered into form fields such as names, addresses, passwords, and credit card numbers. (From Wikipedia).
20. Avoid automatic music on your site
It is really annoying when you enter a site and the music automatically starts playing.
21. Price every piece of art
If you have no constant long term gallery representation, price every piece of art on your website, including your prints and originals. When you go into graemestevensonart.com you will see that each piece is available as a print or an original. If they want to buy a print, they go to print area, an original, they can go into the original area.
22. Justify your selling prices
Be able to justify your selling prices. Who are you? I’ve seen some artists, 3 or 4 years into their career and they’ve got 10 or 15 thousand on paintings. What’s you track record, what’s your gallery representation? Why have you got these outlandish prices? You’re better off raising prices a small amount each year. I’ve been doing this for 35 years, I only raise my prices 5% every year. Sometimes need to keep prices stable- depending on how the economy is going
23. Provide clear, concise instructions on how to purchase work.
Whether you or the client pays for shipping, make sure it is clear. Ensure your details are there so they can contact you directly. If they’re going to have to wander around site to find things, particularly in the selling section of website, they’re just as likely to leave.
24. Don’t mix stuff that’s sold with stuff that’s available.
Try to keep your sold and unsold art work in separate sections. I tend to put sold signs on my work if it has been sold.
25. Limit your images
You don’t have to show every work that’s ever been created. I’ve thousands of images over the years and there’s a lot of work I simply don’t show. It may have sold out or it may be art from 20 years ago. If it’s not valid or related to the work that you’re doing right now, you’re best not putting it in. Display only work from the past five to ten years. The artwork that you did 35 years ago is probably very different to the art that you’re doing now.
Thank you for joining us this week. Have you learnt something about building a website that you want to share? What ware your experiences? We’d like to hear from you. Leave a note in the comments section or open a discussion in our forums.
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