Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Five Ways to Make Your Artist Website More User Friendly

1. Go white or go home: You want to keep visitors in your web site as long as possible, especially when you have merchandise to sell. If you look at the number one tea selling site on the internet,, you’ll notice that the background is white and the words are black. The site won’t win any creativity design awards, but they will sell a million dollars in tea in the next few months. There’s a reason why Yahoo! and Google use a white background with a black font. It’s easy on the eyes. It’s something to seriously consider.

Recommendation: So many artist websites use funky, unreadable fonts and dark backgrounds. Ditch what you know about art aesthetics. It’s a website, not a painting or a poem.

2. Navigation Links: Use only 3- 5 links at the top of your site. Don’t put them on the side and don’t put them on the bottom if they’re already at the top (it’s redundant). Give the viewer too may choices and they end up taking less. Is that a problem? It is if you want them to see something important.
Recommendation: Your website shouldn’t feel like a diary and slide show of your boring trip to the Baltimore Aquarium. You don’t have to include everything you’ve done since the beginning of time. Links to include in keeping with 3-5 are: work samples, your artist bio, contact information, your store, and press. This makes it extremely simple for your visitors to find important things on your site.

3. Bells and Whistles Suck: The amount of extras you include on your site is directly related to the amount of irreverence you have for your visitor. As artists, we’re already working in a visual or auditory medium with a site that can be loaded with graphics. Start adding pop-ups, blinking text, mouse overs, and it just adds load up time to a page and becomes another reason for a visitor to leave your site. Don’t make it easy for them to do this.

High end advertisers are famous for creating flash splash pages that just tell me they have too much time on their hands and aren’t really thinking about me when it comes to their site. Do you know how many visitors you lose while pages are uploading? If you did, I think you’d reconsider these annoyances.

Recommendation: That bell and whistle and music clip that I thought was cool the first time I saw it or heard it becomes a superfluous pain by the third time I visit your site. There’s something to be said about traditional means of connecting with others. It’s not old skool. It’s old kewl. Simple is simply better, period.

4. Encourage Interaction: Including a guest book, an interactive blog, or a page that changes regularly will keep visitors coming back for more. Viewers are more hungry than ever to be involved in an on-line community. Facebook proves this.

Recommendation: Make it easy for others to sign up for things on your site and include things like e-letter sign-ups or calls to action on your front page.

5. Your Homepage is your Ocean Front Property: How will you capitalize on this valuable property? Will you use a useless splash page that includes an extra click that says, “Skip the introduction” or will you include your web site name (usually your own name) so people know exactly where they are? Also, remember to include your most important information on the upper part of the screen above the scroll.

Recommendation: You have to make a decision of why you’re using your site. Is it to sell more? To refer venues to? To just have for your web presence? Depending on what your objective is will determine how it will function?

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