Your website should be completely dedicated to you and your work. Think of it as a studio visit or a reading where you are not present. A visitor to the site should be able to find all of the information they need – including images of your work (in detail if needed), excerpts from your writing, information about your career, a bio and/or statement, and any relevant press or reviews. They should be able to get press releases or printable images, find your contact information, and learn about your upcoming public events and projects. It is a tool to communicate with your audience as well as allow them to communicate with you. It can also be used to promote the work of fellow artists, social causes, or keep people up to date with your process.
A well designed, functional website is a great promotional tool for both emerging and mid-career artists. Whether you choose to design your own website or hire someone, you will have a tool that anyone in the world can access to learn about you and your work at anytime.
Types of Websites
The internet now offers many methods for creating a variety of sites. Before you begin building a site you should assess what type of site you are interested in creating.
- Portfolio site – This type of site is an archive of all of your work, compiled in one location. You determine how comprehensive the archive is. If you also have project specific sites or a blog, make sure that you link to them from this site. Examples include:
- Blog -This can be a traditional blog format where you share images, thoughts, processes etc. More on this below.
- Hybrid – combining blog, news and portfolio. This is becoming a more common practice for some artists.
- Project based site -If you work on large projects or a project-by-project basis you can consider creating a separate site for each project. Examples include:
- Web as platform for work -The internet/websites can also be used as tools to realize a specific work or body of work.
What to Include on Your Site
There should be a consistent menu in the same place on every page to help the user easily navigate the site.
Include the following pages arranged according to your preference:
- Contact information – an email or contact form is fine, but use a studio or mailing address if you prefer. The contact information or page should be accessible from every page on your site.
- Projects/Work Samples – arranged chronologically, by media, content or any other structure you think is appropriate
- visual artists: still images (JPEGs, .jpg) and/or video (YouTube/Vimeo embeds or MPEGs/.mov streamed from your site)
- performance/filmmakers: video (YouTube/Vimeo embeds) and still images (JPEGs, .jpg)
- composers: MP3 (.mp3) samples of work or full scores
- literary artists: text or PDFs (.pdf)
- Descriptive text to support work sample. Not academic. (size, date, medium, text for context of each project)
- Bio and/or Resume (be sure to include printable/downloadable versions)
You could also include
- Artist Statement
- Exhibition/Tour/Performance/Screening information
- Forms (sign up for mailing list, buy tickets to performance…)
- A photo of yourself (optional) – makes it easier for people to identify you at openings or other events.
- Links to affiliated sites (galleries, performance spaces featuring your work, your publisher, magazines where your stories or poems have appeared, Foundations with a page devoted to you)
- Press Materials
- Hi-res images
- Press releases
- Blog – showing your process in your studio, articles related to subject matter in your work, etc
- Press quotes / Pull Quotes
- Rights information
- Tech riders
- RSS feed
Just begin with the work you have, and a good design that allows flexibility and room for additional material.
- gigpress.com is a free and open source wordpress plugin for musicians and performers. They say “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.”
Your website should have clear navigation and quality representations of your work. Other things to keep in mind:
Build Your Site With a Content Management System
Benefits of Content Management Systems:
- provides publishing access to you directly – you are in control of what and when you put online
- allows for faster updates of your web site
- provides an easy-to-use interface where you don’t need to know HTML
- upholds standardization rules – both web standards and the design standards of your site
—excerpted and adapted from Content Management Systems in Corporations
“Despite such good intentions, most of the Flash that Web users encounter each day is bad Flash with no purpose beyond annoying people. The one bright point is that splash screens and Flash intros are almost extinct. They are so bad that even the most clueless Web designers won’t recommend them, even though a few (even more clueless) clients continue to request them.
Flash is a programming environment and should be used to offer users additional power and features that are unavailable from a static page. Flash should not be used to jazz up a page. If your content is boring, rewrite text to make it more compelling and hire a professional photographer to shoot better photos. Don’t make your pages move. It doesn’t increase users’ attention, it drives them away; most people equate animated content with useless content. “
—Excerpted from Top 10 Web Design Mistakes
Include Some Personality
- Remember that your site can be analogous to a studio visit, a solo show, and/or a retrospective, or a reading. Curators, editors, agents, and producers will be looking at it. This usually means keeping a professional tone, and avoiding things like banner advertising or posting pictures of your kids or vacations.
- That said, be sure to include “you” in your site – don’t make it a cold white gallery space (unless that really represents you); treat the website like a studio visit and allow viewers to get a sense of who you are.
Allow People to Contact You
- Provide your contact information or a link to your contact information on every page.
- Allow users to subscribe to (and unsubscribe from) your mailing list on your website
- Include a photo of yourself – consider some kind of portrait and picture of you working in your studio (or whatever applies)
Including this information makes you more credible and trustworthy. Think about a visiting a company’s website that has no contact information or information about their founders, owner, etc? Which would be more credible?
Allow people to share
If someone likes your work, make it easy for them to promote you. Your site should have URLs that enable people to write a friend or colleague and say “So and so’s work is great, see this sculpture at www.janedoe.com/great_sculpture.” and have it go to the image they want to boast about, not a index of 30 images that leaves their friend guessing which one. Better yet, enable people to share using social media “like” buttons on your page.
- Ensure that your site and images are all properly tagged for search engine optimization
- Update regularly, every 6 months at least. If you don’t, a visitor might assume that you are no longer a practicing artist.
- Test your site with a variety of browsers on a number of different types of computers.