Building a website can still be a confusing process if it’s your first time. There are loads of decisions to make, and achieving an attractive design can become overwhelming.
The best website builders, like Wix and GoDaddy, come with a range of tools to help you get online, and it doesn’t have to cost you more than a few dollars per month. There are even some options that enable you to get online for free.
Here, we touch on our top 10 tips to help you get your artist website up and running. We also look at a handful of things to avoid at all costs.
10 Tips for Building a Website for Artists:
1. Spend Some Time Choosing the Right Site Creation Platform
There are a few options to choose from here, including website builders like Wix and content management systems (CMS) like WordPress.org. We’d suggest going for a specialized small business website builder that comes with the tools you require to showcase your work.
Start by considering any specialized website builders. For example, Bandzoogle is great for musicians, while Zenfolio is designed for photographers and artists. Or, you could go for one of the more popular - and easy to build - options. Wix is the most popular website builder, boasting more than 200 million users.
One thing worth remembering here is that most website builders come with a free trial or a free forever version. We’d suggest taking advantage of these to test any platforms that strike your fancy.
2. Fork Out the Money for a Custom Domain Name
Many website builders offer free domain names for customers without a premium subscription. While it is tempting to use one of these and avoid paying a cent for your website, you need to avoid the temptation.
Using a custom domain name will add authority to your work. You will appear much more professional, and people will be more likely to commission or purchase your work. Ensure you use a domain name that’s relevant—perhaps even your name or the name of your studio—to establish authority and help reinforce your image as an artist.
3. Use a Pre-Designed Template
Another thing most website builders offer is a selection of predesigned templates. With these, you can start your site in a matter of hours. Getting online is often as simple as selecting a design you like and populating it with your own content.
For example, a quick look at Wix’s template library will reveal more than 800 attractive designs. Filtering by creative arts reveals 57 templates specific to artists wanting to showcase their work. Filtering by portfolio templates delivers 70 excellent designs.
4. Pay Attention to Mobile Compatibility
In 2021, mobile devices generated around 55% of global internet usage. This number is only expected to increase over the coming decades, so it’s important to ensure your new artist website is compatible with mobile devices.
The first step is ensuring you use a mobile-optimized, responsive template. These are designed to adapt to changing screen sizes, presenting your site’s content in an attractive manner regardless of the device it’s viewed on.
You should also take advantage of any mobile design tools on offer. Often, you will be able to view and/or edit the mobile version of your site via the desktop interface, which can be very useful.
5. Add a Portfolio Page
If you’re planning to create a dedicated portfolio website, you can ignore this step. Otherwise, a portfolio page is something that belongs on every artist's website. With a portfolio page, you can showcase your best work and ensure people know exactly what you specialize in. But remember, just because you have a portfolio page doesn’t mean you can’t show off your work elsewhere on your site.
6. Consider Specialized Design Elements to Showcase Your Work
Many website builders come with specialized elements that are designed to help you showcase different types of art. For example, Wix offers the Wix Video and Wix Music plugins to aid musicians and videographers. There are various tools to help photographers and other artists showcase images. Most site creation platforms also enable you to embed a video hosted on a platform like YouTube.
7. Ensure Navigation Options Are Clear and Intuitive
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to get to a specific page on a website that you know exists but just can’t seem to find. It’s crucial to ensure your navigation and menu options are clear and well designed to help people find their way around your site. People tend to browse longer on well-designed sites, and you will find yourself getting more visitors if your site is organized properly.
8. Proofread and Double-Check Everything
Even small errors on your website can make you seem unprofessional. Spelling mistakes hint towards a hurried, careless design process, which isn’t an impression you want to give as an artist. Once you’ve finished your website, proofread everything, check every link, and ensure your entire site functions as it should. Then, check everything again. Ask friends or family members to look over it as well.
9. Make Sure to Link to Your Socials
If you’re an artist looking to build a new website, chances are that you will want to grow a community and build awareness about your work. A great way to do this is to link to your social media accounts on your website. Ensure these are in an obvious place where people can find them quickly, such as the footer. It’s also a good idea to link to anywhere else on the web where your work is showcased or featured.
10. Keep Things Updated As Much As Possible
Once your site’s online, you might be tempted to sit back and forget about it. But doing this will never end well. Ensure you maintain an active presence, uploading new work and keeping your fans updated. You might even like to add a small blog to post on from time to time.
5 Things to Avoid on Your Artist Website
1. Don’t Overload Your Site with Images
Of course, you will want to add some sort of visual representation of your work. Even if you’re a musician, media showcasing your band and performances is a must. However, you need to be wary of overloading your site with too many images.
Doing so will make it slow to load, which will frustrate people trying to browse your work. If you do need to add a significant amount of media, ensure you compress the files and don’t put too much on the same page.
2. Don’t Overload External Links
External links are excellent for search engine optimization (SEO), which can help you gain a better position on the search engine results pages. However, you need to think carefully about what sort of websites you’re linking to.
For one, you don’t want people to click on links, only to become engaged with the site you’ve sent them to and forget all about your art. Don’t try to pack in too many external links either. A couple per page is more than enough.
3. Don’t Draw Attention Away from Your Work With Unnecessary Design Elements
Often, minimalistic artist websites work best. If your main goal is to showcase your work, ensure that’s exactly what your site does. It can be tempting to add fun or quirky elements to your website, but these will often just distract those browsing your work. We’d suggest focusing on the layout of your site to ensure people’s eyes are drawn to the most important areas.
4. Don’t Forget to Back Up Your Website
So your website’s complete, you’ve hit the publish button, and it’s online. You’ve done it, right? Wrong! It’s crucial to ensure you have a full backup of your website in case something goes wrong.
If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, you can schedule and create automatic backups via a plugin or your hosting provider. Platforms like Wix are less flexible, but you can still create a secure copy of your media and written content.
5. Don’t Lose Track of Your Site’s Purpose
When you sit down to start your website, it’s a good idea to identify exactly what you hope to achieve. Do you want to sell your work? Build a name and get more exposure? Get more clients? A mixture of all those things? Whatever your site’s purpose, ensure you maintain a strong focus on it when designing and updating your content.
Creating a new website to showcase your art or other creative work doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Start by selecting the right website builder or site creation platform, thinking about your design, and selecting a template.
Follow the tips we’ve outlined in this guide, and be aware of our 5 things to avoid. Above all, remember that creating a website takes time, so be patient and keep working on it until you’re happy.