I frequently review artist websites and take a close look at the experience they are providing for their visitors and potential customers. Here are 10 common mistakes that can cause your reader to click away, perhaps never to return:
1. Boring Home page - Although your Home page may not always be the first page that visitors see, it must be structured to make a strong visual statement to draw in the visitor. I always recommend that artists wow their website visitors with incredible photos of their work right up front that creates an irresistible draw to see more. A slider can be used as a dynamic way share a series of pieces from your collection.
2.No visual relief - Is your website full of endless text and long paragraphs? Most people surfing the internet have a relatively short attention span. Be concise and considerate of their time. Break up written content into short paragraphs, leaving lots of negative space, so the reader is not overwhelmed. Otherwise, they may find it easier to click away than to read anything - leaving you and your work behind.
3. Confusing navigation bar - A simple menu on your website is best, taking up no more than one line below the header. If you want to break up your Gallery page into categories for instance, use a drop-down list to organize your images. Clear and concise wording on your navigation bar is best - About, Gallery, Press, Shop, FAQ and so forth, so they know what they are clicking. Don't make them guess, or they may decide your site is too confusing to bother with. Then, it's goodbye.
4.Poor images - There is no excuse for using substandard images on your website. This is a real sales killer, making your site look amateurish and sloppy. Blurry photos, poor lighting and glare are unacceptable, and despite how good your skills are, your work will look terrible. Don't do this. Is your artwork incredible? Share that fact with amazing photographs and plenty of them, including detail shots and in-situ images, too. Your competition has a professional presentation. If you want to compete, you need the same.
5.Content not customer-focused - What interests people most? Themselves. So when your website is full of "I, me, my" it does not interest them nearly as much as when you address your website visitor, and talk about their needs. Invite them in. Share why your work makes an amazing impact in an office or residential environment. If you want to sell, think like your customer. What do they want to know?
6. Failure to collect email addresses - Are most sales made on the first visit to your site? Nope. And those visitors will probably never come back unless you have a sign-up form on your website to collect their email address and stay in touch with an Email Marketing Campaign. Bring interested prospects back to your site again and again via email marketing to cultivate their business and make the sale when they are ready to buy. Without a sign-up form, you are wasting a tremendous amount of time and energy and leaving all kinds of business on the table.
7. No descriptions or prices - If you don't describe your artwork adequately, telling about the technique, the materials, the size and more, are people likely to buy that work anyway? Answer: No way. If they have no idea of your prices, are they likely to call you up to find out how much you want for your art so that they can purchase? Answer: Of course not. Are you kidding?
8.No shopping cart - Not all art websites need a shopping cart, because it is highly unlikely that anyone is going to choose a $20,000 painting and click "Buy." But if you offer work for sale that is perfect to sell online - like that beautiful necklace perfect for Mom and priced just right, and if Mother's Day is coming up - you are missing out if you don't make it super easy for your customer to buy from you. Otherwise, when they do shop online and purchase a gift, it will be from someone else. Someone with a shopping cart.
9.Lack of contact info - Don't make it hard for a website visitor to get in touch. A simple contact form without your email and phone number seems anonymous and won't allow the customer to reach you quickly if they have a simple question but are otherwise ready to buy. When that happens, you miss the sale.
10. No FAQ - An informational page on how to buy your work belongs on every artist website, but I seldom see them. A confused customer won't buy; avoid that problem by providing all the details about becoming a collector of your art. Make sure you let them know about shipping, insurance, guarantees, turnaround times, installation information, special requests, commissioning work, and everything else that applies to your business. This goes a long way to building customer confidence, which is a major factor in saying, "Yes" to the sale.
There are a lot of moving parts to an artist website, and each one is always a work in progress. It's almost impossible to take an objective look at your own site, so ask for feedback from others about what they get, and what confuses them.