Preparation is half the battle in building a successful artist’s website. The better organized and informed you are, the more smoothly the entire process will go. Here are seven things you need to know.
1. Claim your domain. First, determine what you want as your Web address. I suggest using your name if you primarily work on your own. (For instance: janedoe.com versus janepaintsclouds.com.) This will be easier for others to remember, and you want to be in control of your name anyway. It’s easy to reserve a domain—and cheap, too. Prices start at about $9.99 per year from registrars like GoDaddy.com.
2. Identify the bare bones. There are several things that every site should have—a gallery of your work, your bio and your contact information. If you’re not an “e-mail person,” definitely include your phone number. An artist’s statement gets you bonus points.
3. Take your best shot. Your site—and most importantly, your work—will only be as good as the images you use on the site. If you aren’t equipped to shoot or scan your work adequately, invest in someone who is. This is no place to skimp.
4. Take a field trip. Spend some time online and make notes about what sites you like and what sites you don’t. Make sure to note what it is you like about each site. Do you like the color palette of a particular site? The way the navigation is structured on another? Does it annoy you how long it takes a certain site to load? All this information will help your Web designer create a design you love.
5. Know whom you’re dealing with. Just because your next-door neighbor’s teenage nephew says he designs websites doesn’t mean that he should design yours. You want a site that can go the distance and age well. You also want a design that can be easily updated with new work or information. Look for a designer with experience and references. One of the best ways to find a designer is by asking friends and colleagues for references. If there’s a particular website you like, contact the site’s owner to ask for the name of the designer who built it. You can also contact your local artists’ guild for references.
6. Ask the right questions. Once you find a designer, ask her to walk you through what the process involves, step by step. For instance, what is the time frame for each stage of the process, and at what points must you be available for review? What is your responsibility and what is hers? (Would you be charged extra if the images you provide are not Web-ready?) Is the charge hourly or a flat fee? What sort of contract is offered, and is there an option for a kill fee? (This is an agreement where the designers are paid a percentage of the contracted fee if you decide to dissolve the business relationship.) How easy will it be to add new content and images to your site once the site is complete?
7. Tell the world. Do you have business cards? Print your Web address there. Friends with websites? Ask if you can trade links. Are you a member of an art forum like ArtistsNetwork.com? You get the drift. Don’t just launch your site and expect people to find you—use every means necessary to drive traffic to your site.
Read more about artists’ websites in the March 2008 issue of The Artist’s Magazine. Lisa Hazen is a Chicago-based writer and Web designer. Take a gander at her own website at www.lisahazen.com.
Learn more about selling your art: