THE FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY MARKET - WEBSITES
Living in the digital era means that digital presence on the WWB is an integral part of any contemporary artist’s practice. It can be a website, Instagram account, Facebook page, or any other online presence.
Most likely potential customers and clients will find an artist by searching the WWB, using some key words of their interest. Websites provide a chance for the potential customer to have a thorough overview of the work an artist is doing, his/her interests and field of research in general. So what are the qualities of a good website?
According to marketing specialist Tommy Landry (2014), there are 8 important qualities that make a business website successful: a website should be well designed, easy to use, well optimized for search, optimized for mobile visitors, incorporating social sharing features, having a business location clearly designated, providing multiple options to contact the company (or an artist), and having clear calls to action across the site.
An aesthetically pleasing website will impress its visitors, however one shouldn’t get too focused on the design, but also think about the website’s utility. If a website has an outstanding design, but seems to be difficult to navigate, visitors will lose their patience and interest, which leads to the second advice put forward by Landry – a website should be easy to use. Some key factors of a user friendly website include logical navigation architecture; shallow navigation; buttons, dropdowns, and other items in logical places; language that makes sense to the target audience; and consistent layouts (Landry 2014).
In my opinion a great example of a user friendly art photographer’s website is Stephen Gill’s website https://www.stephengill.co.uk/. Once opened, a visitor lands on a simple, yet easily navigable website. Perhaps the website could use a bit more advanced design, but the simplicity of usability, in my opinion, is far more important.
Fig. 1: Stephen Gill’s website online on 18 November 2021. [screenshot by the author]
Once a well-designed and easily navigable website is set up, it also needs to be well optimized for search, otherwise all the effort is for nothing. Landry (2014) gives the following advice:
‘At the most basic level, be absolutely sure that the keywords and content on your site are optimized to align with terminology that real people try to find.’
An artist may not always have an understanding of how SEO works, and perhaps it’s best to leave the technical side of a website building to a professional. Another important point to keep under consideration, is the name of a website. An artist should carefully consider the choice of the website’s name. A name that is complicated, irrelevant and/or difficult to remember might not be the smartest choice. Simplicity in this case is the best choice. For example, microbiologist’s and photographer’s Zachary Copfer’s website http://www.sciencetothepowerofart.com/ is quite easy to use, he’s work is well presented, and there are social sharing features present, but the name of his website is quite difficult to remember.
Fig. 2: Zachary Copfer’s website online on 18 November 2021. [screenshot by the author]
Just as important it is to have the website well optimized for search, it is also important to have it well optimized for smartphones and tablets. A significant part of the potential site visitors will be using their smartphone or tablet for viewing the site.
Next, it might be a good idea to have social sharing features and links added to the website, so that visitors can quickly find an artist’s Instagram or Facebook site account and follow the artist’s development and work.
Furthermore, an artist should include clear information about their location and contact details so that the potential customers could easily come in contact with the artist. Missing out on a work opportunity just because of poor contact options would be a shame.
Lastly, there should be clear calls to action across the site, may it be a blog sharing option or clear instructions of how to purchase an artist’s work.
When combining all of the above mentioned factors of a good website, it brings my mind to a photographer Matthew Maran and his website http://www.matthewmaran.com/ which, in my opinion, is a really well developed website that a viewer can easily navigate on both, a laptop and a smartphone. He’s site is functional and with all the important information in it, but not too overwhelming for a viewer.
Fig. 3: Matthew Maran’s website online on 18 November 2021. [screenshot by the author]
When it comes to my own website (at the present moment on 18 November 2021), I certainly have a lot of work to put in it in the coming future as it is not very well developed, a lot of the information in it is irrelevant and a viewer will probably quickly lose the interest. Since I am using a website host platform wix.com and managing the website myself instead of having people to manage and set it up for me, it hasn’t been easy to figure out what is it that I exactly want to communicate with the world. It hasn’t been updated for a while, and I am aware of the fact that I have to start paying a bigger attention to it.
LANDRY, Tommy. 2014. 8 key characteristics of a quality website for business. Business2community (online). Available from: https://www.business2community.com/online-marketing/8-key-characteristics-quality-website-business-01080617 [accessed 18 November, 2021].
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1: Stephen Gill’s website online on 18 November 2021. [screenshot by the author]. Available online from: https://www.stephengill.co.uk/portfolio/news [accessed 18 November 2021].
Figure 2: Zachary Copfer’s website online on 18 November 2021. [screenshot by the author]. Available online from: http://www.sciencetothepowerofart.com/ [accessed 18 November 2021].
Figure 3: Matthew Maran’s website online on 18 November 2021. [screenshot by the author]. Available online from: https://matthewmaran.com/portfolio/ [accessed 18 November 2021].