Are You Making One Of These 6 Website Design Mistakes?
Updated: May 16
Heads up: This post may contain affiliate links, so if you buy something through one of those links, you won't pay a penny more but we'll get a small commission, which helps keep the lights on. Thanks!
You've probably already googled how to create your website and come across blog posts like ‘how to make an artist website’ or ‘10 things every artist website must have’ but they always seem to list the obvious things like, have your portfolio, and a contact page and a yada yada yada...
Maybe it's just me, but aren't those things super obvious?
There are items that you should already have on your art website. No-brainer, obvious items, like your name, art and contact info. But how do you go about turning your website into one that Google likes to show when people search what you do? One that looks great and is representative of your personality and creativity. One that people are actually interesting in looking through.
You might've found yourself with some time on your hands now, and if you read our last post you're probably busy working on productive ways to fill up your time in quarantine. Why not get cracking on that website of yours?
In this post, I'll share my 6 top tips on how a few small changes can immediately level up and your artist website.
ITEMS YOU SHOULD ALREADY HAVE ON YOUR WEBSITE
An up to date, relevant portfolio - Your Artwork. When organising your amazing art portfolio consider posting new work first, then most popular work, then oldest work. Only put your best work on your website. Don’t put just any old thing, just because it was something made. That has the potential to look cluttered and random. Keep it relevant.
Your Instagram feed and Stories are a better place to share those other pieces of work.
Your online portfolio could be a gallery of images with (or without) a link to purchase. To price or not to price? I think it’s up to you. Some do, some don’t and I think either way is perfectly A-Ok. If you do, just remember to put 'SOLD' on any items you no longer have in stock.
A short, updated Bio - Be sure to keep your bio updated. Does it sound like you? Does it represent you/your work at this point in time?
You might want to include a professional (looking) picture of yourself. A selfie is fine, though your studio is always a better background than that messy bathroom of yours. No mirror selfies!
A Contact Page - A simple section connected to your email, so people can get in touch.
Be sure to write a caption, or subtitle so people get a better idea of what you’d like them to contact you for. Try something like “get in touch for purchase inquiries, commissions, press, or collabs”
Social Media Links - Obviously, you’ll be wanting people to follow your art if they’re not already. So link them to whatever social media platforms you use the most. The best and most used are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Email Sign Up - Make it easy for people subscribe to your emails. Social media is our friend, but emails are still a great way to let people know about what news you’ve got going on. New exhibition opening? Email people. Released a new collection? Email people. Just don’t go overboard. A couple emails a month is plenty. We use Mailchimp. It's free and pretty straight-forward.
Press Page - If you’ve been featured anywhere in the press. Blogs, Newspapers, TV… Anyone whose talking about you, put it here.
Aside from the fact that you’re already making your own website and have a great art portfolio, this press page a page for you to be really proud of! If you don’t have any press yet, make the page anyway and keep it hidden and unsearchable, ready for when your art IS all over the internet!
Now let's upgrade that website of yours. I'm sure your website right now may not completely suck, but here are a few tips on how to make it better.
6 THINGS NO ONE IS TELLING YOU ABOUT YOUR ARTIST WEBSITE
1. Your navigation is confusing
Your menu bar should be intuitive and straight-forward.
I used to have a different page for every collection title, as well as every medium. It was too much!
I only realised this was not intuitive at all when I went to someone else’s site that was also arranged this way, and I found it impossible to find what I was looking for.
Think about it... Imagine you're a mixed media artist that makes drawings, paintings, and sometimes sculptures.
You’ve arranged the 'Art' tab of your menu like this:
“Some wordy title of my art collection, 2019”
“Flowery title that only I understand, 2019”
“Another title of my new art collection, 2020”
A visitor is looking for your newest drawings they saw somewhere on Instagram. But where are they going to look? How will they find it?! Chances are they’ll dig around a bit and exit before they find it.
A much better approach to your menu might be something like this:
Drawings > 2020, 2019, 2018
Paintings > 2018, 2017, 2016
Sculptures > 2018, 2017
This way, once the visitor is on a page, they can see all your artwork under the appropriate collection title. Similar to what Scott Listfield has done on his brilliant website. Be warned though, his artwork is so addictive, you might need to carve some time out of your day.
If you work in the same medium, but you work on different themes, you could organise your menu by theme. For example, I'm a collage artist, I create images of people, animals, abstract, and large pattern works.
The menu in my website looks something like this:
2. Your SEO needs improving
Guyssss, SEO is everything! Granted, it’s a slow burn type of thing and can take a while to build up, but really this is so important if you want to be found on Google.
Ways to improve your SEO:
First off, if you’re using WIX, they make it super easy with their SEO Wizard checklist. If you're using WordPress, they make it easier with the Yoast SEO plugin.
Alt Text - Make sure all your images have the ALT text filled in. This is a short and simple description of the image, with most important keywords, think of it as closed captions for your pictures. It also helps Google Images find your site content.
Keep a Blog - This is not 100% necessary, but blogs are pretty good at allowing Google to realise your site as legitimate, informational and regularly updated.
After all, Google IS information. Think of each post as like adding layers upon layers on building up good SEO. Your blog doesn't have to be extensive, 500 words is sufficient for Google to like you. Anything under 300 words is kind of pointless.
Don't know what to write about? Anytime you make something new, write a little reflection on it. Talk about what your influences were, why you created it, what challenges did you have? What is the title about? People love to see little 'behind the scenes' of artists at work. Consider posting shots or videos of your works in progress too.
Update your site regularly - Google loves when a site has newly posted pages. Each time you publish your site with new content it’s like alerting Google you’ve got things going on over on your site. Chances are it will pay more attention, and rank your site higher.
3. Your images aren't protected
Ways to protect your images:
Watermarks - While there isn’t really any 100% effective way to stop people from using your images online, there are a few precautions you can take. One way you can protect your images is to put a watermark on them. There are many, many tools out there that make this easy. Apps like iWatermark and PhotoMarks which is supposed to let you watermark all your pics at once. But it can really just be as simple as Photoshopping a text overlay of your name or logo, and reduce the opacity. If you’re not a Photoshop person like me, Preview on Mac literally works just as well.
Copyright Notice - The most common way is to add a copyright notice in the footer of your site. Something like this is adequate:
© Your Full Name (Brand Name), Current Year or Year Range.
You could go the extra mile and put a notice like this along side it:
Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Your Name] and [Your Blog Name] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
4. Clean up your layout
Artists submit their work to Dark Yellow Dot everyday, so looking at artist's websites is a frequent thing over here. One thing in particular that really stands out, is when a website is just far too crowded. As soon as I land on any website I want to know exactly what it’s about.
Don’t overdo it with items and calls to actions that are asking visitors to click here, there and everywhere. Keep it simple with nice large images of your art, that people can immediately browse through. At the beginning of the year, I simplified and cleaned up my own website.
Take a look at this website template for artists.
Now remember, clean doesn’t have to mean boring. We are artists after all and like to be creative. But there are ways to make your website unique without being too overwhelming to first time visitors interested in seeing your work, like Shantell Martin's website for instance.
Take a look at this unique and playful website template for artists.
5. You use too many fonts
Streamline your fonts. I can’t stress this enough. Only use up to 2 clear, easy to read fonts. One for Headings/Menus and one for Paragraphs/Artwork Titles. If you MUST, use 3. Tops.
There’s really no need to play with too many fonts in your website. Even though it's fun to play around with the look and feel of your site with different fonts, if you use too many it can look crowded and confusing.
6. Simplify your colour scheme
It can be tempting to play around with all your favourite colours, but it just leads to a distracting website that clashes. After all, your artwork is supposed to be the focal point of your entire site. Use White backgrounds, or Black. It’s simple, it’s clean, it’s easy on the eye, and allows all artwork to stand out.
A small selection of cohesive colours and fonts is the beginning of strong brand, and a step forward in representing yourself as an art professional and website superstar.
If you really wanna know...I love Wix, I made this website on Wix and every other website I've been asked to do since then and people love it. And with over 100 million users it's easy to tell that it's popular for a reason.
I made my first ever art portfolio website on Weebly back in the day, and it was super easy to use and did the job. I later learned that Wordpress was supposedly 'the best' out there for blogs and small businesses, so I switched everything to Wordpress.
I wasn't keen on the clunky backend and all the plug-ins I needed to perform basic tasks in Wordpress. So I looked up alternatives and switched everything (for the second time) over to Wix. I haven't looked back.
It's free to join (Yes!) and you have access to all their beautifully designed templates. Although, if you want your own domain URL you'll need to upgrade for that, but it's only about £8 /month!
It literally does everything and has the capability to do even more. It's easy to use and the upgrades are far more affordable than many other website builders out there. You don't need to know ANYTHING about code or building websites to use it. So it's a great place to start (in my opinion). But don't take my word for it, try it for yourself.
Do you have an artist website you’d like to share? Leave a link in the comments below, and I’ll check it out. You might even proud enough to enter to become our next Artist of the Month!
If you found this article useful, share it around, that makes us happy. You can also sign up for our newsletter for more posts like this.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lauren was born in London, but grew up in Canada where she received her degrees with distinction in Fine Arts and Education. Now she's back, she continues her work in creative arts by making art and teaching it, while developing opportunities for early career artists as the founder of the online platform Dark Yellow Dot.