Successful Art and Artist Websites Do's and Don'ts: How to Build a Website that Works (

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Courtesy of Alan B at


The mantra for a successful art or artist website has been and continues to be "Keep it fast, simple, easy and organized." Navigation and content must be straightforward in order to attract visitors in the first place and keep them on the site once they get there. First-time visitors to any artist website should know as quickly as possible where they are, who the artist is, what their art looks like, what it's about, why it's worth seeing (and hopefully worth buying), and how to move around in order to get wherever they want to go. Sites that lack these basics or make other common errors won't be able to attract and hold visitors, and will likely end up lost in the vast morass of nonfunctional and confusing art websites that overpopulate the Internet.

Before we get going here, and in the interest of you who think artist websites are no longer necessary, that having a social networking presence is all you need, the sad truth is you have no control over your content on social networking sites because they're the ones in charge, not you. They can change the rules at any time, remove posts they deem inappropriate, become outdated, disappear off the Internet, completely change direction, or at worst, kick you off altogether. Regardless of how fabulous you think social networking is or how large your following, YOUR WEBSITE IS THE ONLY PLACE ONLINE WHERE YOU CONTROL THE SHOW and no one else. You and only you decide what to post, when to post it, how long it stays there, when to change it, where to put it, when to move it or when to take it down. You can gamble all you want on social networking, but always remember-- having your own website is a sure bet you never lose. So in the interest of better artist websites everywhere, here's a list of what to do and what to avoid in order to assure yourself maximum visibility and an effective web presence online:

Get your own domain name and avoid free web hosting services. 
Free web hosting is never free and it's always lame. "Free" websites torture visitors with all kinds of distracting advertisements or other obtrusive text and graphics. At worst, maybe half of the screen shows your art while the other half, controlled by the host site, looks like a circus. Your art often ends up in direct competition with all kinds of commercial crap and hardly any art looks good under those circumstances. Furthermore, free sites give the impression that either you can't afford your own website or domain name or worse yet, that you don't care enough about your art to bother buying your own domain in order to make it look its best online. The good news is that basic websites with good functionality hardly cost anything these days.

Don't use third-party advertising on your sites, especially for goods or services unrelated to your art. 
Sure, you may make a little pocket change from click-throughs, but any advertising is distracting to visitors and your art will suffer for it.

Make sure your website looks the same on Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari. 
The same website can look great on one browser and terrible on another, or worse yet, work on one browser but be completely nonfunctional on another. Test yours on all major browsers before going public.

Your website should also be mobile-friendly. 
More and more people are browsing the web on mobile devices, and the number is only increasing. You want your art and website to look its best no matter how people are viewing it....

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