In this week’s blog we’ll be focusing on the promotion of an artists’ practice online, specifically website design and content. You should see your website as an online studio visit, accessible to anyone, anywhere in the world, at any time, so here are some tips to help you make that studio visit leave a positive lasting impression.
An online presence is vital in contemporary art making, this includes both a website and social media activities. If social media is not something you are engaged in, then it is even more important to have a website that is easily searchable, clear, and distinctly you. Some may believe that having an Instagram profile is enough to promote your practice, however, a website works hand in hand with your social media marketing. It is just as important and does serve a difference purpose. A website is a one stop shop for anyone wanting to engage with your practice in depth online; to see digital images of your work, read an artist statement, view a CV, and find out how to contact you. Being active on social media like Instagram is important, but you are never in charge of it. Search algorithms change, posts can be removed, spam with advertising, temporary suspension of your account and you can even get hacked. By contrast you have total control over your website.
Here we are talking about the promotion of visual artists, so it is important to have an image-based website, with good quality images, resized for online use only and downloadable. Some consider it important not to allow images to be downloadable because they have more control over them, however, it limits their use for visual art curators, consultants, students, etc. to add them into proposals, applications, research files, etc, which ultimately means you could miss out on opportunities. For every image add a description so visitors know exactly what they are looking at (title, medium, dimensions, year).
Your website should always stay up to date; if you have created new work, been included in a group exhibition, won a prize, etc, add the information to your website as soon as possible. To invest in a great website then not updated it on a regular basis is a disservice to your practice. Navigation should include a gallery of images, a short biography, an artist statement, an extended CV, contact details and a news section if you think it is something you can manage and regularly update. Content must be clear, concise, and straightforward so that everything is easily accessible. If possible, link to any articles or written pieces about your work. Also link your website to all social media pages and vice versa to make navigation simple for users. Add a copyright footnote to keep your content safe for example, ‘© (date)(your name) and all rights reserved’. Then you have recourse if you happen to find your images being reproduced uncredited to you.
If possible, avoid free hosting sites as they are full of annoying advertising that distracts from your art and professionalism. Don’t use third party advertising on your side, again it’s distracting and takes away from your art. Ensure your website is accessible and looks the same on different internet browsers and mobile phones.
There are many excellent template building websites out there now so it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to get something smart online, just a bit of patience if you are new to the game. Most of the reputable ones have excellent customer service (within 24 hour response time to emails) and step by step instructional notes or videos to get you through. If you really feel like it’s something you can’t do on your own there are support people at varying levels, from someone who could assist you in uploading content within an existing template to building a completely new website from scratch. Ask around your networks, do a google search or try an online share-economy platform to find the right help you need.