Prepare for Your WebSite

WordPress for Artists: Okay you have decided you need a website, Now What!

If you’re here you already know that you need a website but have you considered the added benefits of having one. Your website is not only a place to share your art with the world. It is also a place to…

  1. Send galleries and clients to see your work.
  2. Write about and share your process
  3. Let people know you offer classes and workshops
  4. Make submissions to galleries or juried exhibitions
  5. Sell your art online

Once you have a website you’ll find it’s a way to find new clients. Your business cards will have a website address to hand out when some one asks “Do you have a website?” and you get to say “Why yes, yes I do.”

The ultimate goal is to provide you with the necessary tools that will enable you to own and control the content of you website.

Following this list of simple tasks to prepare for your website will ensure that your website is all you want it to be.

Curate your work

Your website is not a place to archive images of everything you have ever done.
When choosing the work that will appear on your website:

  1. Select only your best work
  2. Select pieces that create a consistent body of work
  3. Put your strongest first
Organize your images
  1. Do you work in series (a pursuit of  concepts) or genres (landscape, portrait, still life)?
  2. Or perhaps you are a painter and a sculptor?
  3. Or your work is all landscape, all portraits or all still life? Then you may want to set up your portfolio by year, starting with Current Work then either a general archive or archive by year.
  4. 12 – 20 images per portfolio page any more and visitors get overwhelmed.

Your image choices are not written in stone and can change. Your website will be evolving and growing with you.

Preparing your images
  1. Resize images for the web !Important for fast loading
  2. Label all your images with your name and the name of the piece eg: jane-doe-nameofpiece.jpg. No punctuation, commas, apostrophies, etc !Important

Review the tutorial to learn how to resize your images for the web.

Resource programs to invest in to easily resize your images for the web.
Photoshop Elements $119

Organizing your website content:

Make a folder on your computer called Website. Inside that folder create these sub-folders:

  1. Gallery Images
    1. Gallery 1 (eg: Landscape, Current Work)
    2. Gallery 2 (eg: Portraits, Painting, 2011)
    3. Gallery 3 (eg: Still Life, Sculpture, 2010)
  2. Texts – bio, CV, artist statement, etc
    1. Media Libary Images – images of you, your studio, your process.

You may be wondering why I want you to have images with your texts.  A common mistake is to load images for your Gallery into the Media Library so if we organize right from the get go it will save having to do things twice.

Choosing a Design

Colour

Studies show that reading light text on a dark website background is very hard on the eyes. Many artists think that showing their work on black will make it pop but I put it to you this way: When was the last time you saw your work hanging on a black wall? Also bear in mind that vibrant background colours interfere with the presentation of your work and will visually fight.

Neutral palette is always best behind your actual work. I don’t have a problem using colour or images in the far background but do not recommend that text or images be place on coloured grounds.

Consider limiting the palette to:

  1. Content area (neutral, white or light grey) with dark text (doesn’t have to be black but red’s not good either)
  2. Site background (could be a colour or an large image)
  3. Site and page titles and links (a good place to use colour)

Resources to play with colour:
A useful guide to web safe colors can be found at http://html-color-codes.info/
A fun on line tool to create a palette http://kuler.adobe.com/#

All colours for the internet have a “Hexadecimal” color code. If you know the color code you want make a note of it. I’m not saying that you have to choose colours; if I am designing a site for you I will create a site that shows off your work the best. What I want you to know is that you have the opportunity to provide input to your designer whether it is Artbiz or someone else.

Fonts

The focus should be on readability which includes font size, colour and style. Fancy fonts are fine for site and page titles but should never be used for your content text. Think about how difficult it would be to read a newspaper’s font was set in a fancy script.

Resources to choose fonts:
Choose two or three and send me the names exactly as you see them so I can go and fetch the code and embed it on your site. I will select the one that works the best with the site layout and send it to you for approval

Font Squirrel or Google Fonts

Layout:

Websites are built using a series of rectangles. Header, navigation, sidebar, content and footer being the foundation of any website. Graphically, with the use of images, the rectangular box model can be manipulated. Also using CSS (cascading styling sheets) styles can be applied to make things more interesting.

Layout considerations are your personal preference:

  1. Header titles created with text or a logo
  2. Sidebar on the right or left of the content area
  3. Vertical (in the sidebar) or horizontal (in the header) navigation
  4. Text for the footer which should include but not limited to: copyright notice, site title, contact info.
Likes and Dislikes:

To get an idea of your aesthetic, look at other artist sites. Bookmark your preferences and make some notes of what you find appealing. It’s not just the colours and design you’re looking for also think about:

  1. How easy it is to navigate the site.
  2. Was it easy to find the art?
  3. Was the site easy to use?
  4. Was the design consistent through out?
  5. Did the site load quickly?
  6. Did the images load quickly?

Words to describe your work: SEO

When writing your text content for the site be mindful of the words you use to describe your work. In order to be properly indexed with the search engines you will need to write an approximate 140 character description.

Make a list of search terms that people may enter into a search engine in order to find you. You will use these words in your website text content. Tip: talking about your work in the third person is a good way to get your name in the description.

To prepare for your website read the section on SEO for Artists. It will help you format your content properly and make it both visitor and search engine friendly.

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