The visual arts is a natural place for websites to flourish. And because it's been an increasingly internet connected world with amazingly low costs compared to other media for marketing, the arts has jumped on board the internet long ago. Any artist that doesn't show work on a website is a relative unknown.
Getting a website online was once an expensive affair and it took a lot of work to maintain. But today that is not a problem. There are numerous sponsored free websites ( e.g. Register.com)and free platforms for art bloggers (e.g. WordPress). But with today's advances in content management systems (CMS) it's very little more work to have your own free-standing website. Today's website can be built for $250-500 and hosted for $5-10 per month. And if you have coding skills it can be done for next to nothing.
Whether you tell a designer who is working is cascading style sheets (CSS) and content management systems (CMS) to design your website or you do it yourself you should know some things to make sure your website is beautiful, easy to use, functional, and easy for you to maintenance. Here are some things to remember:
1) Do not use a background that is distracting - This kind of image or pattern slows the download time of the website and distracts from your art as well as usually coming off as unprofessional.
2) Do not use music - Any music that is chosen can seldom appeal to all visitors, especially after the first visit. Music is also a time consuming download. It is distracting from your art and the viewer's own music.
3) Do not use animation. It is usually distracting (unless your art work is actually a mobile or machine) and has a big download time.
4) Limit all use of Flash and frames they are both unfriendly to search-engines.
5) Keep your website friendly to all browsers - If you website looks good in one browser it may look horrible in another unless you have coded it optimally for all major browsers like IE, Netscape, Firefox, Opera, etc.
6) Make sure all of your external links open a new window - because it's easier for the visitor to use and it looks classier.
7) Keep your website simple in appearance and simple to use and find things - And don't add every image and piece of information about your career or personal life possible. Make sure your website emphasizes your real purposes: sell work and/or invite new collectors and/or present a portfolio to galleries.
8) Keep your image files small - Visitors don't need to see large files. They need thumbnails, a full image and either an enlargement or detail enlargement for each image at the most. Images over 400 kilobytes are not necessary.
9) Make your navigation simple - Don't make life difficult for a visitor, limit the number of choices for each page, avoid numerous layers of navigation, keep buttons consistent in appearance and placement from page to page. From any page on your website to any text or image on any other page there should be 3-4 clicks maximum.
10) Get your own domain address - It's more impressive and it costs only $5-15 per year.
11) Do not use "under construction" pages - If a page isn't complete don't link it to your site.
12) Contact Info must be easily found - Your website is possible your best single showcase and marketing too; don't be coy or dumb about showing all necessary contact information.
13) Add relevant information for each image of your artwork - The images on your website offer no dimensions, medium, price, year of creation unless you write it.
14) Make a brief Artist's Statement and Resume for your website - Visitors and potential buyers need to understand some things about you and your work. These documents can answer most of their questions.
15) Keep your Portfolio website clean! - Don't clutter it up with amateur changes in fonts, text sizes, crazy color changes in pages or texts that conflict with your artwork displays, underlining and bold capitalizations, immature logs, spurious comment and captions, etc. Viewers want to see your artwork at it's best and know that showing your artwork is important to you.
If your website follows these guides it will be easier to use, esthetically more pleasing, and invite serious buyers and galleries to look through your portfolio.
Arthur Browning began his career teaching technical writing in a small Midwestern university for 15 years. He later edited and published a national professional journal for some ten years. He is now an investor. His interests include art collecting, web marketing, writing.