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Ways to Build Your Website

Building your website

Now that you want to build or rebuild your website we highly recommend using a Content Management System.

DIY

DIY means Do It Yourself! It is absolutely possible for artists to set up and manage their own websites without previous experience or in depth knowledge. Every year it gets easier, less expensive, and more accessible. Especially if you have good Google skills.

Hire up

Busy? You can pay someone else to build your entire site but make sure you can make updates on your own. In the course of our research and workshops we’ve talked to too many artists who have great sites that are frozen in time because they can’t update them, don’t want to trouble the person who does, or lost contact with the person. Make sure you have control of your site and it’s done in a way your can manage, preferably online. We are fans of the tools listed below.

WordPress

WordPress – WordPress is our favorite way to build a site. It provides a balance of the most options combined with ease of use. WordPress “Themes” allow you to style your site however you like and the fact that it’s Free and Open Source allows you to configure it ’til you’re satisfied. If you decide you want to change themes, there’s thousands available – just search for “WordPress Portfolio Theme” and you’ll find dozens of free and commercial themes that can highlight your work. If you want to add a feature to your site, there’s thousands of plug-ins available as well.

Recommended Themes

  • WPFolio a WordPress Theme for artists built by IFA Leader SteveLambert

    • PROS: Free, lots of features, very configurable, designed for artists, detailed instructions provided on wpfolio.visitsteve.com

    • CONS: options require set up and some learning curve – give yourself a weekend. Designed mainly for visuals (musicians and writers might prefer other themes)

  • Autofocus Theme for WordPress a WordPress Theme designed for photographers built by Allan Cole

    • PROS: Free version or Pro version is $55, lots of features, designed for photographers, very configurable, built on WordPress so plenty of users and support documents available like http://wordpress.tv. Near flawless design.

    • CONS: options require set up, some learning curve, same as any.

  • Twenty-Eleven – the default theme for WordPress. Very well done and can be modified to accommodate many needs.

Some selected WordPress Plugins for artists

  • GigPress – GigPress is a powerful WordPress plugin designed for musicians and other performers. Manage all of your upcoming and past performances right from within the WordPress admin, and display them on your site using simple shortcodes, PHP template tags, or the GigPress widget on your WordPress-powered website.

  • Postie allows you to send images as a post via email. It can make it much faster to post your work than creating a bunch of posts through the WordPress interface.

  • Audioplayer is a simple, embedded MP3 player for adding sound clips to your site.

  • Thumbnail Regenerator – If you decide you want different size thumbnails across your whole site all the sudden.

Other Tools

  • SquareSpace – one of the latest hosted services to enter the field and using the most up to date methods.

    • PROS: Very easy to update and change. Very well designed and engineered with a good balance of usability and flexibility. More flexibility than most hosted services. Try it out for free. Also allows you to use your own domain name.

    • CONS: Monthly cost $8-16/mo. Not able to so quite anything you want (but still very good). Hosted on their servers. Only one domain name per account.

  • MODx – a content management system

    • PROS: Free and open source, very flexible, paid help is available

    • CONS: requires more technical set up, smaller community of users

Past workshop participants have used:

  • iCompendium

  • Apple’s iWeb and mobileMe

  • ZenPhoto – free and open source image gallery

  • Other People’s Pixels – monthly or annual fee. Note: some templates use flash – don’t choose those.

  • Livebooks used by many commercial photographers. Kinda pricey, $35/mo, but easy to use and tailored towards commercial needs.

  • Weebly They have a free version that is nice, and a pro version. Big Photos!

  • Wix flash sites with giant images, and a variety of templates. Free with advertizing from Wix, $4-$20/mo for no adds.

  • Indexhibit – a CMS built specifically for artists and designers.

    • PROS: Simple and clean. Configurable and customizable. Lots of support. Free. Hosted on your server.

    • CONS: requires some technical set up, does not support RSS yet, relatively fewer developers and users compared with WordPress

  • Perch – “a really little content management system” to add CMS elements to an existing site.

    • PROS: could be just what you’re looking for to add dynamic elements to a static site

    • CONS: costs €35, not open source, you will likely, eventually, outgrow it.

Referred Web Designer/Developers

Here is a short list of developers that we recommend (they are all able to build personalized WordPress sites, and are listed in no particular order):

Recommended by workshop attendees

  • Andrea Goldman‘ an artist/designer specializing in websites for artists. She uses WordPress and other tactics to create clean, well organized sites. Also does WordPress tutoring. a@semaphorestudios.com

  • Diane Bertolo diane.bertolo@gmail.com – an artist/designer uses WordPress and other web software to create beautifully functional sites for artists and organizations. Very skilled with integrating content and design.