You Don’t Need a Home Page (per se)

Your Home Page can be any page that exists on your WordPress site. For example if you have a important event that you want to publicize you can set that page to be the landing page of your site. When the event is over change the “Home” page to your Artwork, Bio or anything other page you have.

So the “Home Page” doesn’t have to be an actual page called Home or Welcome with content developed specifically for it. It can be any page or even your blog if you have one.

To set the “Landing Page” a.k.a. Home Page go to Settings in the WordPress admin and under the Reading tab select the page you want. There is a Tutorial & Video at WordPress for Artists D.I.Y. site.

Website Check Up

The Website Check Up list relates to how well your website performs overall. Use it to review your own site to ensure that it is efficient and logical.

In my post “Make Your Site Stronger” I talked about how to make your content stronger. In this post I am referring to the structure of your website as well as a few more content related items.

1. Header
a. If you are an artist your name is your brand please use it for your site title.
b. If you are an “artisan” and have a business name other than your name proper – use that and be consistent in building your brand.
c. Consider using an optional tag line for descriptive text for what your site is about. For example: Fine Art Acrylic Landscapes by Jane Doe

2. Navigation Is it easy to find information on your site?
a. Your landing (home) page should tell visitors, at a glance, who you are, what you do, and how to find what they’re looking for.
b. Is your navigation consistent and on every page of your site? Your visitors should be able to follow a logical path to learn more about your art and view images.
c. Organize your portfolio images in a logical way either by series name or use descriptive page titles for yearly archives.

3. Usability refers to how easily site visitors can use your site.
a. The best measure of usability is feedback from users – the people who visit and try to navigate the site.
b. Are all the links on your website working?
ii) First make sure any links between pages on your site are directing site visitors to the correct page.
iii) Check all of your links to other websites, too; the webmaster may have renamed the page or removed it altogether, and those dead links will make your site look unprofessional and frustrate your site visitors.
iv) If you’ve removed some of the pages from your own site, set up a custom 404 page that redirects your visitors to your home page (or a search page) when they try to access a page that no longer exists.

4. Speed Does your site load quickly enough in the viewer’s browser?
a. Artist sites typically have a lot of images. Are your images re-sized for the web?
b. You have about Eight Seconds, meaning no site visitor should have to wait longer than eight seconds to view the opening page of your website. After eight seconds have elapsed, chances are good the viewer will give up and go elsewhere.

5. Compatibility
a. Will your website display correctly for most people regardless of their computer hardware, operating system, browser and monitor resolution?
b. If any features of your website require certain browser plug-ins, provide a download link.
c. Remember that not everyone will have JavaScript enabled and that graphics can be turned off by the user; make sure your site will still work without them

I will expand on some of these items in future articles. In the mean time if you have any questions or things to add please leave a comment.

Make Your Website Content Stronger

A list of ideas to implement and make your website content stronger.

Looking at artists sites I see one thing that strikes me as odd.

Artists are visual people right, image is worth a  thousand words and all that. What I see a lot, are blog posts with out images and portfolio images with out descriptive text.

 

Make your site stronger by:

  • If you are writing about a process to create a work of art show us images of the process.
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  • If you have an image or group of images on the landing page or anywhere in your portfolio tell us in a few sentences what we are looking at. This can be an excerpt from your artist statement and will go a long way in satisfying lay people. 
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  • If you are writing a blog post about a specific body of work provide a direct link to your portfolio page that contains all the images on the blog post where you discuss this work and vs
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  • If you are posting announcements to events and ask us to go to the event site for further information please provide a link to that website. Also if you list up coming exhibitions please provide us with a link to the gallery.
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  • Redundancy: If you had a “News” page but are now posting your news to your blog you can safely remove the News page and transfer the content over to your blog.
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  • Try to be more creative than using “Uncategorized” as a blog category. It is the default WordPress category use to catch those posts that do not have a category assigned. If you don’t want to use categories then consider changing the name of “Uncategorized”.  Some clients have used “In General”, “Studio News”, “The Artists Life”. Just go to Categories and rename it.
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  • Have you added descriptions to your gallery images; name, medium, size? What if an interior designer visited your site and saw the ideal painting for a client but there was no size and nor could they contact you and ask the size of the piece because there was no name. Um, third image from the left, two rows down is not good.
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  • Forgot how to add images to your gallery and stacking single images on top throwing off the entire layout of the page? Please review “gallery management”
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  • Most artist sites will have a page called “Events” or “Exhibits” used to list current or upcoming shows. In WordPress your pages can be removed from the menu if there aren’t any current events. Better not to have it in the menu than have people land on a blank page.  If you don’t want to remove it from the menu stick an image on the page and tell visitors that there aren’t any events at the moment and invite them to check back.
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  • Has the same image been on your home page for 3 years? Returning visitors may think you haven’t created any new work and your site has become stale.  Switch out your images from time to time – keep it fresh.
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  • Consider using an image of yourself on your Biography page. Yes as an artist you identify with your work but your collectors and potential collectors want to know the real you. It doesn’t have to be a professional portrait, a shot of you in the studio is pretty cool. Have a look at Eleanor Lowden Pidgeon’s Bio page.
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  • Thought that you would really get into blogging or use the blog to post news but haven’t posted anything since December 2008.  Get rid of the blog and just use a page and call it News.
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  • Do you have a new and exciting announcement like an instructional video. Use your home page to create a link and say a few words. Rex Beanland does this well.
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  • Calendars on your blog are meant to highlight the days that you have created new posts. Consider removing the calendar from your sidebar if your post frequency is rare and there aren’t any highlighted dates on the calendar.
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  • Use your home page to promote an upcoming show complete with an image and show details. This is good use of your home page, keep it fresh with new content BUT remember to remove the event when it is over. People coming to your site will see that the exhibit was 6 months ago, that is stale content.
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  • Typically I set up your portfolio with generic names if you don’t have proper series names. It will mean more to your visitors if you categorize your work and name your galleries accordingly.
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  • If you have exhibition images with people in them post them. It’s great to see people interact with your art. Have a look at Liz Sullivan’s site as an example. Liz uses a page called Recent Exhibitions but you could also do this in a blog post.
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  • Do people have at least two ways to contact you? Email and a phone number.
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  • Is all your contact information on your contact page? Where are you in the world? It is called the World Wide Web after all and you will get visitors from everywhere would it not be nice to tell them where you live. It doesn’t have to be a full street address but why not something like: “Jane Doe Artist works out of her studio in “city name”.
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  • If you use archives which lists the months and years that you have posted to your blog and you only have 2 and they are two years apart consider not using archives in your sidebar.
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  • Have you remembered to resize your images for the web? You have 8 seconds before your visitor gives up and leave because your image is taking too long to load.

Your readers will appreciate it and so will search engines. Really!

If you have any questions I’d be happy to help. Email me