Contact: at the very least write out your email address: www.yournamedotcom
Having a website is pretty darn easy these days Whereas social media is fluid and requires frequent updates, you can sit back a bit on website updates. You should definitely updates this with some regularity, but you don’t have to every day.
I know several people who are abandoning website updates in favor of social media. I don’t recommend this. A website is a wonderful public archive and can give a comprehensive picture of who you are and the full body of your work.
You are all at different stages and have different needs in a website. But, I would say that you all need to have one. Julia Galloway’s Field Guide is really the best advice and direction I have found on this topic. I would like to reiterate a few points. First, if you pay someone to design your website, you have access to expertise you do not have, to spend the time to learn- or take the time to update for that matter. On the other hand, you also have to rely on someone else to do that updating for you. This is a long-term expense. There are a number of really great ways to create a website on your own. I would suggest that at this stage, it may be better to start your website on your own.
It seems that going with the middle road, like Squarespace, or WordPress or similar platforms will allow you the ability to change your template fairly easily- without the need to learn code. There are more and more customizable options for you to explore, making this option feel less limiting than it used to. These companies are also large enough that they give you access to the most up to date options. While there is a small monthly or annual fee for these services, you can be sure that your site and its content will be up to date in so far as technology. Having a responsive and mobile ready website is critical for your ability to communicate your work to as many people as possible. If you change your mind a lot, be sure to find out whether you can easily change your information from one template to another (squarespace lets you do this- wix does not)
I strongly discourage you from using any kind of site that uses Adobe Flash. Smartphones- particularly iPhones do not open these sites and many people do not keep their Adobe software up to date enough to be able to access sites that use Flash on their computers.
You could of course pay someone to set up one of these sites for you, and have them hand the reigns over to you to update going forward. If you have the cash, that’s what I would do.
Whatever you do, I highly recommend that you keep it simple!
Here are some questions to ask yourself when setting up a website, and some things to consider when designing your site:
Questions: What is your primary purpose for having the website? Is it to display your work in a beautiful visual way? Is it a mixed content site (images and text), do you blog as a part of your practice? Do you want to sell things from your website or are you ok with maintaining an etsy site in addition to your website?
Sales: If you are selling work from your site, be sure that you look into how that will work, with your bank, with taxes etc. We will discuss sales tomorrow. You may not need to have a shopping cart on your website, but having a place where people can contact you if they are interested in purchasing something is vital. You can have a discreet price list for people to access if you are not comfortable with having prices in the description of each pieces.
Documents: I highly recommend that you have your words on display and create a way for website visitors to see your writing as pdf’s- pdf’s as a url’s themselves, or downloadable versions. The art world is shifting and many gallerists use social media to curate exhibitions. If someone finds your name this way, make it easy for them to find about you, download your information and bring it to their committees. Find out before you choose- how easy it will be to make this information available.
Contact information: Have your email address at the very least- and even better, your phone number on the contact page of your website. Also connect your website to any and all social media sites that have to do with your artwork. Make it easy for people to contact you. As a gallerist, I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to try to reach out to an artists to invite them to be in an exhibition and have to fill in one of those contact forms that emails the artist from their website. This takes time that I often did not have when reaching out to artists. This has on more than one occasion made me decide not to invite that artist. If you are concerned about privacy, create an email address specifically for your business communications.
Business vs personal email address…..
News: If you have a good practice of maintaining and keeping your website up to date- by all means have a “news” page. If you do not have a great practice of keeping thing up to date, avoid the use of this type of page and stick with your CV and resume for this function. The more things you have to keep up to date, the harder it is to maintain all of them.
About: an about page is a great place to have your bio, artist statement and documents, or it can be a place for a more candid picture of you and your practice. This could also be your home page
Images: Find a way to keep your images organized that is easy for people to navigate without too many clicks. Avoid the need for click-backs- try not to make people have to head back to the Home page before seeing the next image. There is a careful balance between keeping information organized and creating too many clicks. Follow image size specifications so your website doesn’t load to slowly (too large), or your images either don’t expand or become pixelated (too small) when opened. Most companies have really great FAQ sheets or tutorials. Really pay attention to this! Also pay attention to how much storage is allowed by your site. Large images take up a lot of space. A free wordpress site for example has a surprisingly small amount of storage virtually requiring a user to upgrade after just a few months.
Some suggestions to get you started- go to the websites of the people you admire who are further along in their careers. See how they so it.