6 Crucial Mistakes You've Made on Your Website
When artists reach out to me about their online portfolio the first thing I say to them is “no matter what you do, or sell, you need to make the experience for the viewer as enjoyable as possible.” Now, that could mean anything depending on what business you’re in and what target audience you have. But for any creative looking to present his or her artwork on their own website, there are specific things you should pay extra attention to. And even more things you shouldn’t pay any attention to.
1. You’ve spent time on a ridiculously elaborate and unnecessary logo.
Oftentimes, I meet photographers who are obviously extremely proud of their logo and have decided to stick it on just about anything they could think of: T-shirts, stickers, flyers, pens, and, of course, their website.
Unless you are trying to sell your graphic design skills, this is a huge waste of both time and money. Let’s zoom out and get some perspective: Have you ever seen any of the artists you look up wear a T-shirt with an overly elaborate logo on it displaying their very own name? Didn’t think so. And no, it’s not like they used to do it before they got so successful they didn’t have to anymore. It’s because it’s the completely wrong focus to have.
Instead of worrying about the look of your brand, worry about your art. The art is your brand. Without it, you would just be a person with a camera. My Dad is a person with a camera.
Here’s a tip: Instead of spending time on logos, write your name out in all caps, set the character spacing in Photoshop/Indesign/Illustrator to somewhere between 150 and 200 in a sans serif typeface. Good fonts to check out are:
Avenir (personal favorite)
Futura (very similar to Avenir, but I think Avenir works better online)
Open Sans (free and good!)
FreightSans (The Breed font)
Akzidens Grotesk (very popular in advertisements)
and, of course, Helvetica
If you must opt for a serif font (“because it looks so much more fashion, you know. Like Vogue and Elle, you know.”), I recommend going for either Bodoni, Didot, Caslon, or the serif version of Freight.
I just handed you the only advice on logo-making for fashion photographers you’ll ever need.
2. You have a “fancy” intro sequence.
Now, again, why have you spent time on this? People are already on your site to look at your work—you don’t have to force-feed them. I don’t care whether you have a very impressive but ridiculously slow-loading video/flash intro, or whether it is just a page with your name on it: get rid of it. Taking your target audience and your objective into account, there is no need for the intro to be there. There is no need for you to spend time on it.
3. Your site is full of bells and whistles, and it’s annoying to navigate.
Load. Wait. Music. Fade in. Click. Fade out. Load. Fade in. Click+drag. Scroll really slowly. I’M OUT.
I travel a lot, and I often do my work in cafés or hotel rooms. Now, despite this being 2014, most coffee shops and hotels haven’t cracked the code on how to provide a decent internet connection for their guests. So, when I as an editor—or even better, a client—venture on to your website in order to see if your talent is right for the gig or not, the last thing I want to waste my time on would be your site—not your work on your site, but the web page itself. Having your clients wait for your site to load and fade in and out, and for your images to carefully animate into place for the clients to finally get to go through, is a fatal mistake.
Again, why have you spent time on this? Did you make your website in order to impress your friends, or did you make your website in order to grow your fashion photography business? Get your priorities straight.
And while I am on that point, why is there music on your site? Unless you’re a DJ, no one’s gonna pay you for your great taste in music. It is very rare that I lower my own music in order to make room for the playlist you just decided to push onto me now that you got my attention.
4. There’s too much work on your website.
This is not as much of a no-brainer as the points I have listed above. It can be very hard to edit your own work down to a perfectly sized platter of great work. So seek advice. Ask around for honest critique and utilize it in your editing process.
In my opinion, a photographer’s website should not contain more than two or three pages/galleries, depending on what you’re shooting. Fashion and beauty would obviously be two different pages. Sometimes, photographers have a Recent Work section of their site, and although I don’t mind that, I don’t really see the need for it if you’re updating your portfolio anyways.
You can always use a Tumblr page to publish all of your work, and you can easily link to that page on your site.
Your website should be put together delicately in order to precisely communicate your art and objective.
5. There’s no information whatsoever on your site. Or there’s too much information.
I am not asking for much: full name, location, email address, a list of a few clients/publications you’ve shot for, and your social media accounts.
That’s the perfect amount of information.
I don’t need to know how your aunt gave you a camera for Christmas when you were nine, and how that sparked an interest in photography that would eventually be of immense influence when choosing a career path.
If your work is great, I’ll stick around for you to tell me that story in person after our shoot.
6. Your images are too small.
Don’t you think it’d be nice to enjoy your work as it should be experienced? Don’t you want people to love what they see on your site?
Then give them what they want. 300px-wide photos are not what they want.
You would probably argue that putting large photos on your site would make you vulnerable for copyright infringements, but come on, we’re in 2014. Get over it. Big nice images, please. Keep them between 800px and 1000px wide, and if the verticals get to tall, make sure you can click on them to view them in full size.
Also, make it easy for anyone to pull the images off of your site.
Again, this point might seem scary to a few of you, but let me update your perspective on this. I’ve run a decently successful magazine at Ben Trovato, and our social media accounts are full of inspirational photography gathered from different sources. I cannot count how many times I’ve entered a photographer’s website in search for a decently sized version of a photo I would love to share in front of our audience. But if all I find is a variety of tiny photos that I’m unable to save to my computer, I am out of there, and the mission is aborted. That photographer just missed out on a great opportunity.
These are only some of the things I encounter on artists’ websites. The most important thing to remember is that 99 per cent of the time a viewer (client/collaborator/anyone) goes to your site in other to view your work. Nothing else. Make it very easy for them to view it. I don’t care wether it’s the most basic site you could ever make—if it’s extremely easy for me to assess your work and get a sense of your skills, you’ve succeeded in creating a perfect website for the business we’re in.
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