Best Practices for Building Your Artist's Website
This is an excerpt from our Internet for Artists (IFA) Handbook. The IFA handbook is a collaborative online resource given to participants in Creative Capital’s Internet for Artists workshops. Register for the Website, Blog, & Email Essentials webinar on June 16, 7:00-8:30pm ET to learn the full scope of best practices for your website.
Your website should be completely dedicated to you and your work. Think of it as a studio visit or a reading where you are not present. A visitor to the site should be able to find all of the information they need – including images of your work (in detail if needed), excerpts from your writing, information about your career, a bio and/or statement, and any relevant press or reviews. They should be able to get press releases or printable images, find your contact information, and learn about your upcoming public events and projects. It is a tool to communicate with your audience as well as allow them to communicate with you. It can also be used to promote the work of fellow artists, social causes, or keep people up to date with your process.
A well-designed, functional website is a great promotional tool for both emerging and mid-career artists. Whether you choose to design your own website or hire someone, you will have a tool that anyone in the world can access to learn about you and your work at anytime. Your website should have clear navigation and quality representations of your work. Here are some other things to keep in mind.
Build Your Site With a Content Management System
Benefits of Content Management Systems, excerpted and adapted from Content Management Systems in Corporations:
- Provides publishing access to you directly – you are in control of what and when you put online.
- Allows for faster updates of your website.
- Provides an easy-to-use interface where you don’t need to know HTML.
- Upholds standardization rules – both web standards and the design standards of your site.
Include Some Personality
- Remember that your site can be analogous to a studio visit, a solo show and/or a retrospective, or a reading. Curators, editors, agents and producers will be looking at it. This usually means keeping a professional tone, and avoiding things like banner advertising or posting pictures of your kids or vacations.
- That said, be sure to include “you” in your site – don’t make it a cold white gallery space (unless that really represents you); treat the website like a studio visit and allow viewers to get a sense of who you are.
Allow People to Contact You
- Provide your contact information or a link to your contact information on every page.
- Allow users to subscribe to (and unsubscribe from) your mailing list on your website.
- Include a photo of yourself – consider some kind of portrait and picture of you working in your studio (or whatever applies). Including this information makes you more credible and trustworthy. Think about a visiting a company’s website that has no contact information or information about their founders, owner, etc. Would you question whether that company was credible?
Allow People to Share
If someone likes your work, make it easy for them to promote you. Your site should have URLs that enable people to write a friend or colleague and say “So and so’s work is great, see this sculpture at www.janedoe.com/great_sculpture.” and have it go to the image they want to boast about, not a index of 30 images that leaves their friend guessing which one. Better yet, enable people to share using social media “like” buttons on your page.
- Ensure that your site and images are all properly tagged for search engine optimization. Here’s a great article on SEO for artists.
- Update regularly, every 6 months at least. If you don’t, a visitor might assume that you are no longer a practicing artist.
- Test your site with a variety of browsers on a number of different types of computers.
For more on managing your internet presence plus tips on making e-mail more efficient and building a blog to promote your work, register for Website, Blog & Email Essentials taking place June 16, 7:00-8:30pm EST.