If you are an artist and you want to create a website to display your art for the world to see, you will probably be tempted to make the website itself a work of art. This is a logical jumping off point. Many good websites are quite beautiful, with pleasing graphics, splashes of color and other artistic details.
Although that can work well for other kinds of websites, it’s the wrong approach for showcasing your artwork online. Yes, it is counter-intuitive for many people, but you really need to go with a very plain site with a monochrome color scheme so the focus is on your art. You don’t want the website itself to be the focus.
It is best in most cases to go with either a plain white site or a plain black site. Think about how high end jewelry gets displayed on black velvet in order to show it off and keep the entire focus on the jewelry.
You want to achieve a similar effect. Photos of your art should be the most eye-catching thing on the entire site.
The site needs to be attractive, but it should be a minimalist design. Good photos of your art of good quality and a decent size should be front and center on a site that is not overly busy. Minimalist design is the way to make sure the site itself does not distract visitors from images of your art.
You want a short domain name of real words that is easy to remember and convey verbally. You want some contact information, information about where and how your art can be purchased and other functional details of that sort.
Any non-essentials should be removed. Less is more.
You also want good organization and good navigation. Make it easy for people to find the things you most want them to find. But do it in a way that doesn’t detract from the art itself.
Your landing page should feature images of your art. If you want a blog or anything else very wordy, put links to that on the landing page in a discrete manner that is readily found, such as across the top. But don’t make your landing page overly cluttered.
The internet can be a frustrating place that exposes you to harassment and other unpleasantness. This is especially true for women, people of color and certain other groups. While you need to be able to do business under your real name, you really want the focus on your art, not on you as an individual.
Think hard before including photos of you, especially if you are a woman. If you do include them, you really want to go for a professional appearance, not an attractive or sexy appearance.
Also, consider placing them on a bio page, not the landing page. Contrary to the famous saying “There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” there is, in fact, such a thing as bad publicity. You want your website to attract positive attention to your art. You do not want it to attract problematic attention to you personally.
You can’t change the fact that there are some crackpots out in the world, but you can do some things to place the emphasis on the things you want people to notice. This is your work, not you.
Good design does look good, but that isn’t really the point. Good design should be functional and should steer people in the direction you want them steered. Design choices should be made with goals in mind. You should be able to answer the question “Why am I doing this?” or “Why am I doing it this way?”
The point of art may be self expression, but that isn’t the point of a business site. Your art site should be viewed as a virtual business show room, not another medium of expression. Always keep that in mind.
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