By Carolyn Edlund
Is your art website boring, dysfunctional, or even embarrassing? Here’s how to put all that behind you and create a professional web presence for your art.
Jason Stambaugh of Wevival is the webmaster behind the new Artsy Shark redesign. I was thrilled with the results, got a huge increase in website traffic, and found him incredibly easy to work with.
Jason recently spoke with me about how artists can increase the functionality and appeal of their websites.
AS: What are some of the biggest mistakes you see artists make with their websites?
JS: The biggest mistake an artist can make with their website is choosing a platform that doesn’t make it easy for them to update site content. Artists are always creating new work and participating in exhibitions and shows. Having to pay someone to constantly update your website (or simply not updating because it is too difficult) leaves your wallet empty and your website looking stale and out of date. There are website platforms out there that will help you avoid this issue.
Other mistakes include:
- Choosing a busy or bold website design that distracts from your work.
- Not using image meta data that will help your work get found through organic web search (title, alt text, description, etc.).
- Failing to utilize basic web design standards (contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity).
AS: What suggestions do you have for upgrading to a more professional look?
JS: In addition to having a clean website design, you need to pay attention to three things: mobile responsive design, site navigation and professional photos of your work.
- Mobile responsive design means your website will look great on all devices that can access the internet. You may have a wonderful web design that looks and works great in a standard desktop web browser. However, with more people now accessing the web through mobile devices (smart phones, tablets, netbooks, etc.) your site needs to look and work great on mobile too.
- Be purposeful with your site navigation, links, buttons, etc. Often, many artists will try to cram as much information as they can onto the page or in the navigation menus. This doesn’t do your site visitors any favors and can be a real distraction. Think through what you’d like people to do on your website and provide clear navigation menus and visual cues that will lead them there.
- Your artwork is the lifeblood of your website. You should have both professional photography of your art and room views that show your art in context on your website. You just don’t want to shortchange yourself by using shoddy, small, and low resolution photography to showcase your work.
AS: Jason, when you design a website, how do you create it to be easily managed by the artist?
JS: I universally use WordPress to build websites for artists. WordPress is an open-source content management system that is used by millions of people. The platform itself is free, with thousands of free plugins to extend its functionality.
There are also thousands of pre-fabricated themes (or skins) that can be used to style the website. That means you can have a feature-rich, beautiful, professional website without all of the costs associated with 100% custom web development and design.
Furthermore, the WordPress administration back-end makes it really easy for artists to manage their website content. You don’t need to be a computer science major to keep your content fresh.
AS: What is the approximate cost to have a custom-made professional site designed by Wevival?
JS: In general, you can expect to pay $1,000 to have a professional artist WordPress site setup, using a pre-fabricated theme.
AS: When you design a new website, what do you consider the best features you can offer a client?
JS: I pride myself on keeping things simple. Every site that I engineer for my clients, I build with them in mind. I want them to be able to successfully manage their website after the project is complete. I provide them with the workflows and training they need to keep their site up-to-date, with fresh and engaging content. In other words, I get them setup with a professional WordPress site and teach them how to “fish” with it.
Reach Jason Stambaugh by email at firstname.lastname@example.org