Art, Artists and the Web: Part 3--What to Put on an Artist's Website
What to put your the website if you are an artist.
1) The art work
Try and think like a gallery hanging a show. Would a gallery put 20 paintings of an artist's art work on one wall? No, because the visitor would be completely confused and not be able to focus on any one painting. The same rule applies to artist's websites. If you cram 20 pictures on one page the Web visitor will move on. Feature a few paintings on each page.
The opposite is also true. Do not put only a few pictures on your artist website. There is nothing more frustrating than finding an artist that you like on the Web and not being able to see a representational body of work.
2) Background color
Background color on a website is just as important as it is in a gallery. White, light gray, cream are all safe colors. Black can be very dramatic way to highlight paintings, however, black makes text almost unreadable. If you use a color, which can be done effectively, make sure that the color works with all your art work and reflects who you are as an artist.
Keep it clean, classy and simple. Make sure to visit "Websites That Suck." www. websitesthatsuck. com.
Make sure your artist's website loads quickly; visitors on the Web will not wait, they will leave.
Stay away from all the newest flashy innovations that web designers often like. They usually irritate the visitor and take longer to load.
4) Search engines only read text.
Search engines do not explain how outstanding your art work may be. They only read text. It is very important to have text on your website. The more relevant text the better.
5) Text on a website is different than text in a book or magazine.
All the lessons that apply to "regular" writing do not apply on the Web.
When you are writing text for your website, think bullet points and outline. You want sentences to be short and choppy; phrases work well. Paragraphs should be short. Make your text chatty and do not be afraid to start your sentences with words like "And" or "Because". Writing for the Web is the opposite of what you learned in high school and college.
6) Splash pages are now out.
It used to be that on your Home Page you could put a gorgeous picture of your art work and then move on from that to the rest of your website. This is called a "splash page". Search engines no longer like splash pages. It is now recommended that on your home page you have text explaining what the entire website is about and links to all the major pages.
7) Connect with the visitor.
Just having fabulous pictures of your art work is not enough. A Web visitor will usually visit one or two pages and most likely seldom or never return. It is very important to give the Web visitor a reason to stay on your website as well as to come back. The usual artist's statement is not going to accomplish that.
Tell or show your Web visitor something about you. It could be a picture of your studio, people love to visit studios; information about what inspires you; your technique, if you have an unusual one; a particularly interesting interview with you. Use your imagination
Give away free information. Visitors on the Web love that. There is probably something obvious to you that is big news to your average Web visitor. Share that information with them.
8) Let the visitor know how to contact you.
Make sure the visitor on the Web can contact you as well as your gallery, if a gallery represents you. If the visitor can only contact the gallery, it feels as if the gallery is holding the artist hostage. The Web visitor will move on.
If a gallery is concerned about an artist having an email address of his or her own, there is an easy solution. The person who sends the email gets an automatic reply saying their message has been received. The same email message can be forwarded to both the artist and the gallery, and together they can decide how the email could be answered.
9) Make your website easy to navigate. Make sure that it is easy for a visitor to find his or her way around your website. If a Web visitor finds it the least bit frustrating, they will leave.
© Mary Baker 2005
Mary Baker is a contemporary realist painter, whose studio is in Newburyport, Massachusetts. This New England city, north of Boston, has been the inspiration for the artist's realistic oil paintings. Mary Baker is a professional artist and has shown in New York art galleries.
A list of articles can be found on her Site Map and Mary's paintings can be seen on every page of Mary Baker Art.