What’s Up with Your Website

Any artist or photographer who is serious about selling their work must have a website. Okay, I know that is a dated statement – I’ve said before. But if it isn’t, it should be. In this age there is absolutely no excuse for not having a working website which promotes you and your work. But what if you do have a website? Then the question that should be asked is “Is it time for a new one?”.

Why would you want to go through the trouble of building a whole new website when you already have one? It’s simple. As an artist or photographer you probably rely heavily on your site so people can view your work, make purchases or simply supply leads. With the exception of the small amount of artists who shy away from displaying their work online, most serious artists and photographers do have a professional presence online.

During my off time – if you call it that, I run a web development company. Today, most of our work is subcontracted to us by a prominent advertising company in the San Antonio area. And occasionally the occasional we will get a call from an old client asking us to update a web site we did for them long ago. Most of what I do personally is not so much web design but instead web based systems or mobile application programming (for devices such as iPhones, iPads and Android Phones).  With that said, I try to stay up to date with industry trends. And believe it or not, many people’s websites are simply too dated and don’t exactly accommodate the methods people are now using (such as mobile devices) to access websites. Today, it isn’t enough to have one version of your site. You need to have one formatted for mobile and one formatted for desktop computers.

As an example, I was looking at a photographer’s website as we discussed how she could possibly make it perform better for her. She wanted to increase her sales of commissioned work and had noticed that over the past few years a decline in web site leads even though her visitor count was slightly higher, and her site was well placed with search engines. She knew it wasn’t necessarily due to the economy, because the casual feedback she used to get on her contact form was also less. Although impressive, her website was over 6 years old. While it was full of animated effects, the original designer did a good job of using those to highlight her work. The problem was that it was designed for someone with a large screen size and relied heavily on Adobe Flash. If you do not know what Adobe Flash is, for the past decade it is what has been used primarily for video watching, gaming and other very interactive things complete with sound effects and animations, all through your web browser. Artists and photographers use to gravitate to it for designing websites because it allows almost unbridled creativity in web design.  The bad news is Flash, while not dead, is starting to fade as sites like YouTube while other prominent sites implement alternatives. What’s worse is that if you are using a device like an iPad or iPhones then you are out of luck because Flash essentially cannot be used on those devices. And if you are on an Android tablet or phone, it won’t be long before those too are Flash free. After we discussed this I had her check her stats with Google. Sure enough over half her visitors were accessing her site via mobile devices. Who knows how many potential sales were lost because people could not view her work and immediately exited out of her site.

Could this possibly describe you? If you are not sure then it’s definitely  worth investigating. Signup with a service like Google Analytics if you have not done so already, and find out how many people are accessing your site via a mobile device. If your site uses flash extensively, talk to your web designer about alternatives such as JQuery and HTML 5. Finally consider having a sticky mobile version of your site. It does not have to be fancy but it should at least give potential customers something to view rather than a site which is either impossible or hard to navigate on a phone. You may not see the benefits right away but in the end you will be better situated when it comes to web exposure.

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