© Fred Fair (www.paperaction.com.au) July 2015
WEBSITES FOR VISUAL ARTISTS ASV TALK BY FRED FAIR 15/7/2015
1. What do you expect a website will do for you as an artist? (some participant’s replies)
a) Artist display ‘book’
b) Means of contacting artist
c) Display artist’s unique style
d) Sell art (eCommerce)
e) Follow artist’s exhibitions
f) Make artist look ‘professional’
g) Create awareness of artist/type of artwork
A variety of answers to this question were given by participants. 2 ‘demo’ websites (Cetta’s & Gillian’s) were shown on-screen to contrast two different styles of website and to show how website design has changed in recent years (e.g. menus are now often appear at the top rather than on the side, and journal-style pages are ‘busier’).
Fred mentioned the importance of ‘responsive’ websites (websites must look good on tablets and mobile phones).
3. A basic ‘model’ website for visual artists:
a) Welcome/About (Home) Page
b) Biog/CV page
c) Image Gallery/ies
d) Contact page
e) Blog/Diary page
• The above list is a meant to be a starting point rather than a strict formula.
• Focus on importance of the home (welcome) page to ‘capture’ a website visitor (research shows you only have 3 seconds!).
• Having a multi-image slideshow to capture visitor’s attention on the home page.
• Image galleries ‘naturally’ match the styles, media, themes and interests of each individual artist.
• Using a contact form to ‘hide’ artist’s email address (anti-spam).
• Photos must be clear, sharp, free of flash reflections, and have a file-size of at least half a megabyte. Choose a good background or context (vital for a sculpture!) Bad photos spoil many otherwise good websites.
4. Alternative methods to build a website (pros & cons)
a) Social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) – free (skill level 2/10)
b) Photo sharing (e.g. flickr, instagram, Zenfolio) – some free & some paid (skill level 3/10)
c) Online website builders (e.g. www.weebly.com , www.webs.com, www.wix.com) – basic service is often free, but ‘extras’ (such as hosting, your own web-address, extra email accounts) will likely cost, and you might also need to put up with adverts on your website if you choose the ‘free’ option. Check the fine print for each provider (skill level 3/10 to 4/10)
• Social media and photo sharing services have their own strengths and weaknesses – for an example see www.twitip.com/twitter-versusfacebook/
• Twitter good for sharing small ‘chunks’ of information. Facebook is more like a mini-private website or blog for sharing with Family of friends. flickr and instagram may be more suitable for sharing photo-galleries. youtube for movie-clips.
• The idea of ‘push’ (where a system tells you there is something of interest) versus ‘discovery’ systems (where a system lets you find something of interest).
• Use of social media in conjunction with your website. Have social media links on your website-pages.
d) Static websites (made on your own computer ‘by hand’ or with dedicated software or use a paid web-designer) – free or paid – cost $250-$400 or more (skill level 5/10 to 7/10)
• Static websites a built and uploaded to your web host from an individual computer. There are many tools available on Mac and Windows to build static websites using ‘drag-and-drop’ and other basic computer skills (using menus and typing).
• Dynamic websites are ‘driven’ by databases that fill-in a web ‘template’.
Everything is stored on your web host’s computer, and you can edit/update your website from ANY computer (by log-in with a password). Software that let you create a dynamic website is often called a ‘Content Management System’ (CMS) and some systems have a pretty steep ‘learning curve’, but the documentation is usually pretty helpful. NOTE: Online website builders (ref point c above) also create dynamic websites.
5. Promoting your website via...
a) Printed material (business cards, flyers, artwork labels, stationery)
b) Online Directories (Yellow Pages, True Local, etc)
c) Online artist-run initiatives/associations (like ASV, CAS)
d) Social Media (example – Twitter)
e) Search-Engine (e.g. Google) Rankings (SEO)
• The transient nature of search-engine rankings.
• The ‘dark arts’ of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO specialists use dedicated SEO tools and charge real money! But you can do a lot yourself.
• TIP: Put yourself in the shoes of someone who is searching for your kind artist website – what search terms can you imagine they would type in to help you do your SEO? Example: ‘sculptor’, ‘mosaic’, ‘Melbourne-based’ OR ‘sculptor’, ‘bronze’, ‘Australian’, ‘outdoor’, etc. Check Google or your favourite Search Engine before deciding to see what and who comes up!
• Type in your ‘search phrases’ (as defined above) into Google or other search engines and see WHAT comes up and WHERE in the rankings artists doing similar things to yourself come up.
• Fine-tune your search phrases so artists (similar to yourself) come as high as possible in the rankings. Aim for page 1-3 by all means, but don’t be too ambitious because you are probably competing with a large number of other artists all clamouring for attention! Tabulate your results in a list (e.g. spreadsheet) so you may see the effects of your ‘fine-tuning’ as above over time.
• TIP: Use these key search terms/phrases as the basis of your page headings (big text at the top) on your page and page-body text.
• TIP: Try to match your ‘Page Title’ (as seen at the top of the browser window) with page-body content generally and especially the H1 page headings (H1 tag in html).
• Register your website with Google and other search engines.
• Include a Site Map (for a definition see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Site_map) with your website files on your Web Host (the computer that ‘serves’ your pages to visitors) and submit it to Google or other search engines. This is a specialist topic which we didn’t discuss in depth), but there plenty of information about it online.
• For more info on how to submit your website to various search engines, see http://safehouseweb.com/how-to-submit-url-to-google-bing-yahoo-and-ask/
• SEO is a huge topic, and there is much information about it online if you have the inclination or time to delve into this topic.
© Fred Fair (www.paperaction.com.au) July 2015