In this final post about building a website for artists, I want to mention a few more things to keep in mind when building your own website. I will also give you links to some very successful artist website designs.
For artists, their website is their portfolio. In the olden days we would be carrying a folder under our arm, filled with photos of our paintings, our cv and newspaper cuttings. We would visit galleries and clients with this folder in the hope of some interest in our work. Nowadays we can simply have a website and present our work in much more professional manner.
Our website is our business card, our shop front, our solo show and our portfolio and we want it to look good.
Thankfully building a website has become easier over time. No longer do we need coding skills or FTP uploading software. Companies like Wix, Squarespace and Weebly (to name the 3 biggest) have taken all the hard work out of the process, and even made it fun (for some).
Every web host offers a free web builder in their package. It is within the reach of nearly every artist to have a good looking website.
Hire a Designer
Even if you don’t want to, or don’t have the time or the skills to create your own, there are plenty of web designers who can do it for you. Having it done for you can cost anything from a couple of hundred pounds to tens of thousands, so do shop around and compare services and prices. If you have a budget for it, it can pay off to have a site made for you as the professionals can really offer something beyond most standard website builders. Keep in mind, however, that you will want to be able to update your site yourself. And in so many years, you might want an updated design.
Do it Yourself
Website builders are pretty easy to use, but you do need to set some time aside to figure out how it works, read through any guides and help files and play around. Some basic computer skills will be a huge bonus so if you are complete novice, ask someone to help you.
Look out for
Your website will be full of pictures: images of your art works and of you. In order to pull that off you need to be able to take good photos of your art. You need a photo editing computer program to crop the photos and edit any colouring problems. Most basic photo editing programs can do this (check out these links for some ideas, but there are many programs that can do this: here and here)
What is important, however, is not just the cropping and the colouring but the file size of the picture. Many cameras and mobile phones will take very large photos. These photos will take up a lot of space on your website. Having big files on your website will make your website slow. Nobody will want to visit a website that is slow to load so make sure your image files are small (well under 130kb for larger images and for images that do not need a zoom or a pop-up, keep it under 50kb). The smaller you keep your image files, the quicker your website will load, the easier it will be for visitors to browse around.
In order to keep your image files small, you need to resize them in a photo editing program. Reduce the pixel size from in the thousands to the hundreds, and reduce the pixels-per-inch or resolution to the lowest number you can. If you reduce the resolution too much, you will end up with a blurry photo. If you leave the resolution too high, the file size will still be too big. Aim for 50-70 pixels per inch for small images and perhaps a bit more for large images that give your site the wow effect. Play around with it and see what resolution looks good while keeping it as low as possible.
‘White space’ is an important feature all websites should have. It refers the the empty space around each bit of content. A lot of empty space will make a site calm and easy to read. Many sites look cluttered and messy simply because they failed to create some breathing space.
I have said it before but it cannot be said enough: the image gallery is surely the most important feature of an artist’s site. Make sure the gallery is easy to navigate. Do not let me search for the ‘next’ arrow or the thumbnails.
The navigation menu is also a vital part of a site. I should not have to look for it (I am not a fan of ‘hamburger menus’ on desktop sites) and clicking through to other pages should be made as easy and inviting as possible. You want you visitor to hang around after all!
Many artist’s sites are white in colour. Although there is a risk that we all end up looking similar in design, a white website is calm and easy to view. It leaves the ‘dressing up’ of any art work to the viewer who can easily imagine the art work in their own home. White or black is neutral and friendly. It is fun to sometimes come across a much more personalised website however. Check out Jos van Riswick’s site for example! It might not be everyone’s cup of tea (that IS the risk) but it sure stands out.
Do not use a template that needs Flash. Flash is not supported on mobile devices. Half your visitors will look at your website from a mobile device.
I like looking around this website for design inspiration and ideas.
Some artist (-friends) have beautiful sites, so here are some for your inspiration:
Me? I am forever looking for the perfect template, design, and the perfect host and fear I will never find it. No doubt my site will see a few transformations still. I do fancy these ‘effects’ you see in many sites….