I’m between projects now. My new How to Make Masks! book has gone to the printer, but it still hasn’t appeared on Amazon.com. Soon, though, so I’m on pins and needles, waiting…
Meanwhile, my daughter and I have been having long discussions about artist’s websites, and we’d like to get some feedback from you, too. Questions keep coming up in our discussions, and there doesn’t seem to be any definitive answers for them.
For instance, I found this article about sculptor’s websites that immediately convinced me that the site’s home page should be all about the artist. But, on the other hand, you also want people to see your artwork right away. And it should be really easy to figure out how to buy something – you don’t want people to click so many different links that they change their mind before they hit that order page. And, most new visitors probably won’t land on the home page anyway, because they’ll come in from the search engines and land on one of the inner pages of the site, which means that the whole framework of the site has to be set up to make things easy for visitors.
Jessie is in the middle of re-designing her artist’s site, and, now that my latest book is finished, I’m thinking about trying to sell some of my own work online. Before we make huge decisions about what our sites should look like, we’d really like some feedback from you.
Here’s some of the questions I hope you’ll help us answer:
- When you visit another artist’s website, is there anything in particular that makes you think you’d like to own that person’s work? Is it the artist’s statement? The way the images are presented? A story that goes along with each piece of artwork that makes you feel connected to it? If you’ve actually purchased art from a website recently, what made it easy for you to make that decision?
- What sites have you visited that you liked so much you bookmarked them or sent a link to friends? Did you like the site for the basic design, the work that was shown, the text? Would you actually buy something from that site, or do you just like visiting?
- How important is the “design” of a website when you make a buying decision. Does a pretty design sometimes get in the way?
- How can you encourage people to comment on pages that show a work of art? It’s easy to get comments on a site like this one, where people come to learn how to do something, or share their own knowledge with others. But feedback is so important to any artist (it gets lonely in those studios), so any artist would like to get comments on pages where they show off their work. Have you seen non-how-to art sites that made you want to enter the discussion?
If you have examples of “good” websites that you’d like to share with us, a link would be nice. But be sure to tell us why you like the site, and if it made you want to buy something. There’s a very big difference between an attractive website and one that actually works as a store. I think that’s the biggest problem when an artist designs a site – designing is what we do, and selling is something that we usually hate doing, so we’re probably the wrong people to design our own sites. But, on the other hand, nobody knows our own work better than we do.
Of course, there’s a whole ‘nother issue – should we sell our work from our own website, or should we put our work on a site like etsy.com, instead? I’ve checked the sales stats on a lot of pages on etsy, and most people don’t seem to be doing very well. Is it because their page gets lost among so many different artists? Is it easier to send traffic to a separate site, or to get traffic to a page on a huge site like etsy?
So – if you have an opinion on this subject (and I hope you do) please add your comments to this post. What makes a good artist’s website, from the customer’s point of view? While you’re at it, are there any changes you would like to see in the UltimatePaperMache.com site? Let’s talk…