A better web site for artists

“Build it and they will come” said the voice to Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams. It doesn’t quite work that way with web sites. And often when they do come, they are so unimpressed with what they see they leave as quick as they can.

Here’s a few tips that I believe can help most artists create a site that will keep people interested and coming back for more. There’s a lot more to a great web site than meets the eye. Think long and had when developing your own and always think how the viewer will enjoy the experience.

Get your own domain…
It’s just too easy and pretty darn cheap to get your own domain these days. Depending on the name, you can get one for $10-30/year. It looks so much more professional to have www.yourname.com.au rather than www.somehostingcompany/yourname.com.au. Keep your name as simple as you can. The longer the name the more chance people have to make a spelling mistake and not find you.

Find a good web site host…
Free hosting services will often link advertisements to your site (they have to get paid somehow) and this is really annoying to your visitors. Paid hosting is pretty cheap these days too but a good host will take care of problems quickly to keep your site up and running as much as possible – that’s what you pay them for.

Keep it Simple!…
Don’t make your site too hard to navigate. Be sure your site developer creates a gallery that is quick and easy to view. Too many galleries require that you go through every image, not being able to choose at random. Forcing your visitors to do something they don’t want to do will send them away, never to return. Try not to use Flash – it often takes too long to load and can be really annoying for people with slow connections.

Lowest common denominator…
Don’t have a site that is so high tech only the top 100 geeks in the world can view it. Your site needs to work in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome and Safari and look the same in each one. These are the most common ones. You may have the latest, biggest monitor with the highest resolution on the planet but the bloke next door is trying to view your site on an old 800 x 600px screen and gets frustrated having to scroll sideways as well as up and down – plan your site to keep most people happy.

Not too much text…
The more you write, the more you lose. We could stop this tip right there but as I write on and on and on about not writing too much you’ll get the hint that writing too much can be detrimental to your site’s success. Do you get the hint?

Image sizes and quality…
You are in the business of selling images. Do not cut yourself off at the knees by putting up poorly lit, badly cropped, undersized images that do nothing to make your art look good. We will supply you, free of charge, with the right size images for your site of any work we’ve copied for you.

Contact Details…
Make sure your clients can contact you either by email, mobile or mail. Sites that only have contact reply forms and no other details may scare off buyers who want to ring you to ask questions about a particular piece. Many people like to see if you really do exist and will not buy if they can’t speak to a real person.

Price all work on your site…
It’s so easy today to set up a Paypal account to be able to accept sales online. Get your web designer to arrange it for you. Make sure all your artworks are priced and easy to buy. The easier you make the process, the more sales you’ll make.

Order, Payment and Return Policies…
If it’s in writing, everybody understands the rules. Don’t make things up as you go along. Decide on your policies, list them on your site and stick to them.

Finally, I think it’s worth mentioning that an individual artist’s web site should be thought of more as a promotional tool, an online brochure than the sole source of income generation. Without copious amounts of advertising with Adwords, incoming links from other sites and traditional promotion methods, it’s unlikely that your site will be first in a Google search for anything other than your site specifically. By that I mean if you search for your name you will find you, but if you search for your style of art, you will be one of hundreds of thousands of sites found but the chances of being on page one are slim to none. DO NOT GET CAUGHT BY SEO COMPANIES OFFERING TO GET YOU ON PAGE ONE – they don’t work they way you would want them to work and the cost can be enormous.

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