What’s Wrong with Your Art Website?


By Carolyn Edlund

Be honest. Is your website something you’re really proud of? Or maybe – not so much. Do you know exactly what needs to be improved, or are you not really sure where to start?

I asked art coaches, mentors, and bloggers, who look at artist websites all the time, for a sentence or two on what bugs them the most. Their responses:

Tara Reed, designer and licensing expert:

I’m not a fan of splash pages. They often have flash or animation, and you have to wait or click to avoid the intro.


Aletta de Wal, Art business coach and mentor:

Having to search for price and size information. Do NOT make me send you an e-mail. I will be gone to the next artist’s site in less time than that takes, let alone wait for your reply.


Barney Davey, Author and expert on Art Print Marketing:

Music playing – I like playing my own music when I am on the Internet. I may not like your choice and am irritated to have to look for a mute button.
Poor navigation
– Don’t make me dig around on your site to find out what you have to offer. I may miss it or get bored or frustrated looking and quit only to never return.
No Prices – I want to see prices. If I have to contact you be email or phone to learn what your prices are, it’s a near mortal lock I won’t bother.


Miranda Aschenbrenner, Artist and Author, Learn to Art blog:
As for my pet peeve on artists’ websites:  I don’t like websites that require a lot of clicking to access overly categorized artwork images; ideally, I like to be able to quickly click through all the works without having to hit the back button.


Alyson Stanfield, Coach and Author of Art Biz Blog
1: When artists don’t have their names on tops of the pages. This happens all of the time! It’s often the result of artists doing their sites themselves.
2: When there are no credit lines with the images. Artists worry about people “stealing” their images, yet they’re often the worst offenders of posting work online without credit.


Maria Brophy, licensing expert and manager for Drew Brophy:

An artists name should be their URL rather than a clever phrase.  It’s easier for people to find you online if your name leads them to your website.  Don’t make me work too hard to find you online, because I don’t have that kind of time!


Lori McNee, painter, blogger and marketing expert:

Common errors like broken links, misspellings and bad grammar are obvious annoyances on any website or blog. However, I find that many talented artists give little or no thought in creating an aesthetically and artistically pleasing blog post. Deep, unbroken paragraphs are boring and labor intensive to read, no matter how good the content might be. Keep your readers happy and make it visually pleasing with images, easy to skim, and try using sub-topics and bullets points.”




Visitors are checking out your website because they want to have a good experience seeing your work. How can you make this happen, especially when you are on a limited budget? I asked yet another expert, John R. Math, guest blogger who wrote  “Art Website Basics – What Every Artist Should Know!” to comment on how to create a balanced, easy-to-use website that avoids many of these problems.


The experts who commented on this article brought to attention some common art website issues that they see throughout the art industry.   Overall, it seems that if you waste your website visitor’s time or make it difficult to purchase your art, you will lose them!  We will comment on how these website problems can be fixed with a little attention from the art website owner.

A common problem is a lack of, or not being able to find the proper information on the website quickly. First, a visitor wants to see your artwork. Have your portfolio (or readily available links to) on the home page.  A visitor, especially a professional in the business, does not have the time to waste trying to locate your artwork.  These people want to see your art in order to see if there is any interest on their part to go further in their evaluation.

Secondly, if those visitors are interested in your art, they will then want to know the price of the art.  A common problem is the lack of, or hard to find pricing information. An ideal solution is to have the price along with the image of the artwork and if that is not possible, then make that pricing information easy for your visitor to find.  In addition to the art and the price, a visitor will want to know what materials and media that you used for that particular piece of art.  Many art websites lack this type of information.

A “Click Intensive” website will lose traffic quickly.  What do we mean by click intensive?  It means that a visitor has to click around and click the back button to navigate your website. In this busy world, where we are bombarded with information, people will not take the time find what they are after.  Make your website as basic and easy to navigate as you can.  Remember, the point of your website is to show your art and then to hopefully get people to take further action in the selling process.

The experts discussed the Flash problem, whereby it slows the visitor from getting to see what they want to see . . . your art.  If your website is slow in loading, a visitor will not wait.  You will lose them.

Make your website easy to find, easy to navigate and make it go fast! Remember, a lot of visitors may have old computers, with old software and their computer’s memory cannot handle a flash website!  In addition, if your website is slow in loading, Google will subsequently mark your page rank down when your site is indexed by them, as they do measure and rate how long it takes to have your website load.

Another common problem is the lack of artist contact information on the website. There are many  artist websites that DO NOT have contact information.  You should have as many ways as possible for the visitor to reach you. Have a physical address, telephone, email, text, IM, Skype etc.  Have a contact form for your visitors or better yet, have an entire page devoted to helping people reach you (Google likes that too when they index the site).

Make it a point every month to “become” the visitor to your website.  Go through each page, each internal link and each external link.  Pages, text, sidebars and graphics all do strange things on a website.  It is surprising what you will find that is not working.  While you are there, use spell check or get someone to proof read your website for you, then make subsequent changes and improvements to your copy.

Remember, the purpose of your website is to help you sell yourself and your art, or at least for the website visitor to make contact with you to go further in the selling process.  Your website cannot really make the sale for you, but a poorly designed and functioning website can lose the sale for you.

Check out another great article that John wrote with even more details.

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  1. All very useful information – thank you!

  2. Thanks, Judy. Like everyone else, my own website could use some brushing up. I just “visited” it and found some problems. Yikes!

    • I hadn’t visited one of my websites for awhile and when I did I was shocked, as it was taking more than a minute to load (no flash either!). I immediately got hold of the web host and they discovered that it was one of my Plugins for Twitter. The company had developed this had gone out of business and the Plugin did not work anymore! This simple thing was keeping anyone from looking at my site…and my Analytics showed it too! Just take some time and check your website, as they say “Stuff Happens”.

  3. I believe one of the items I fall short of currently is a lack of pricing. I recently redesigned and slowly adding my prices. I’m also making a few changes to my price structure. One thing I don’t see in the above article, unless I missed it, is allowing someone to purchase artwork directly on your site. I’m currently looking into this. I’m wondering how important this really is.

    • Robert, you have a great point! I am an advocate of having a shopping cart on your website. Here’s a great article by Ann Rea, artist and coach of Artists Who Thrive http://bit.ly/hcAXi1 She has made many online sales and considers it essential to have a way to purchase online. I agree.

    • Robert: If you are an artist without representation, then definetly you should have a vehicle by which visitors can purchase from you, again make it easy for them.

      If you are doing that, I strongly suggest that you use PayPal for all payments in order to discourage Art Scammers. Here is an article I wrote about the Top 10 Signs Your Are Dealing With an Art Scammer http://tinyurl.com/4r4rbud – It seems to be happening more and more to artists. Be careful. Thanks.

      • Thanks a lot John for the information on art scammers. I had a couple to email me last year.
        Right now I’m looking into setting up a shopping cart. I’m not sure if my current site gallery is set up for that. I would like a new gallery setup anyway.

  4. I’ve implemented a price list on my website that is accessible, without being too “in your face.”

    On the gallery page the prices are hidden by default. Click on Show Prices at the bottom of the page to see info (including price list.)


    What do you think? Classy, or too obscure?

    • Personally, I think it is a nice compromise, like you said not “in your face”. Looks good. I’d like to see what others think of your site.

  5. Hi Brennen: I went to your website and it is the perfect art website to have. It is very simple, easy to navigate in order to find the information that I wanted.

    As far as having your prices showing I like what you done there. If I have any further interest in your work, then it easy for me (without clicking and searching) to find your prices instantly. Nice job!

  6. Great tips! Many are just little details – but small details are so important. Your website is now an extension of you, so make it a great one!

    • I agree, Maria. As a professional you know that all those details make for a good experience on your website, and bring those visitors back! Your own site is a great example – user friendly and well thought out!

  7. Oooooo. These are all good. It was so hard to pick just one, so thanks for letting me have two.

    Artists should use this post as a checklist to make sure they have all their ducks in a row.

  8. thank you for this very informative and helpful article!

  9. Building your website, promoting it and maintaining it is a lifestyle change for artists and it takes consistent commitment. It IS an extension of you and it’s all too common that artists build the site and then fall asleep at the wheel. There is ALWAYS something you can do each and every day to improve your website.

    I always tell artists to try and take 15 to 30 minutes every day to make an improvement to their site. If they don’t know how then hire a web design company (I promise… no plug intended) to build you a website with a CMS (content management system) to make your life much easier.

    I touch on many of the topics in this article here: http://www.bluesquidmedia.com/blog/10-common-problems-with-artist-websites-part-1/

    (plug was intended there ;o)

    Excellent article!


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