The internet’s an amazing tool to help your artwork get noticed—with just a click of the mouse, people from all over the world can view your art, read your bio, or sign up for your e-newsletter. Of course, with only a second click they can be gone, too.
So what are you doing to grab visitors’ attention on your website or art blog? How do you look professional and make your art stand out? Here are five suggestions for artists who want to capitalize on that all-important first impression.
1. Lead with an image
Internet surfers have millions of options right at their fingertips, so if they click to visit your website’s home page it’s a pretty sure bet that they want to see some art. Without an image or photograph immediately visible, there’s a much higher likelihood that your visitor will “bounce” by immediately clicking the back button.
If you can, place your best work, your most unusual image, or the piece that people most often compliment you on right there on your home page—in other words, hit ‘em with your best stuff first!
Most art blogs are set up to show your latest post at the top, and that can work too, as long as you constantly upload interesting images. If you just upload text for a few days, you might see your bounce rate increase since your artwork’s no longer on top.
Maybe you’ve never paid a designer for a “real” logo, but as an artist there are plenty of ways to give yourself a distinct identity or brand. Using your signature, for example, can be a great way to separate yourself from the pack—consider placing a hand-written signature at the bottom of each blog post or in the header of each page.
If you don’t like your signature, using a portion of one of your images, a bold color, or a distinctive font in your header are other ways to give yourself a professional “brand” across your entire website.
Look around at some other art websites to get ideas. . . For example, here at EmptyEasel I’ve used a distinct, big, black “e” silhouetted in front of a painted sky and clouds. That “e” is essentially my brand, online. What’s yours?
3. Direct where your visitors go
Where would YOU like your visitors to click next? To see the rest of your artwork? Then create a prominent link high up on your website, right below your opening image, or inside your first paragraph. Perhaps your goal is to get people signed up for your monthly email—then make that link your most prominent.
As the owner of the website, you can influence where your visitors go once they’re there—don’t just leave it up to chance! It often helps to ask friends and family to browse your website, so you can watch where they click. Then with just a little trial and error you’ll soon be able to funnel visitors where you want them to go.
And here’s a quick bonus tip: try using the occasional graphic link to direct your visitors, not just text links. This can work great for your newsletter sign-up or whatever else you’d like to really stand out.
4. Minimize clutter and organize sidebars
One thing that will always turn people away is a cluttered, messy, disorganized website. Think simple and clean and suddenly your artwork will begin to take center stage—not all those links in your blogroll.
In fact, the cleaner your website is, the easier it will be to accomplish tip #3. Now, I’m not saying delete your blogroll, but breaking it down into sections of 5-10 links apiece with the appropriate sub-headings can really help.
If there’s anything on your website that DOESN’T help, like animated gifs, outdated links, etc. . . be ruthless. Just get rid of them. That’s what I did when I designed Foliotwist’s artist websites (click the link if you haven’t heard of us before) and the results have been fantastic.
5. Be very careful using Google Adsense
I don’t want to say NOT to place Adsense on your website, but I do want to give this word of caution: Adsense ads can very easily make your website look less professional, and that will reflect on your artwork.
I’m honestly not sure if it makes a difference to run-of-the-mill art buyers, but I’m sure it would to traditional gallery owners and other people in the art world. So keep that in mind. . . and if you do put ads on your website, at least don’t make them the first thing that viewers see.
Finally, don’t be afraid to make changes and experiment. Every website can be made better, but there’s no way to improve without trying new things.
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