11 Fast Website or Blog Fixes

If your website or blog has been under-performing, there’s no need to take drastic measures like creating an entirely new site. Consider these 11 tweaks to give your online presence a boost.

Gloria Lamson, Falling Apart and Coming Together. Installation includes jigsaw puzzle pieces and teabags
Gloria Lamson, Falling Apart and Coming Together. Installation includes jigsaw puzzle pieces and teabags. ©The Artist

1. Get rid of any splash page. Those are passé, slightly annoying, and you don’t want to count on people clicking through to your main menu.

2. Make sure your name is visible at the top of every page. We shouldn’t have to search under a rock to see whose art we’re looking at.

3. Tweak your Title <TITLE> tags. The title of your page is embedded in your code and shows up at the top of a browser—not on the page itself. Title meta tags are very important for search engines. Let’s say your page title default is “Home.”

Do you think people really do a Web search for “Home”? A better choice for a page title would be rich in keywords such as “Paintings by Wyoming Artist Charles Frazier.”

4. If you use a blog for your primary Web presence, your artwork should be easy to find. Don’t make us scroll to find your art buried in old posts. Create a link for a Web page of all your art—perhaps using a Flickr plugin. Speaking of which . . .

5. Make sure the link to your artwork is clearly defined with any one of these labels: Art, Portfolio, Paintings, Photography, Sculpture (or your medium of choice). Don’t use the word “Gallery” to describe your artwork pages. Save that word for the galleries representing you.

6. Enlarge your thumbnails. Leave the stamp-sized images behind and create an impact with larger thumbnails. In I’d Rather Be in the Studio! I suggest the smallest dimension be at least 100-140 pixels. You have to WOW us before we’ll click.

7. Add a credit line next to each artwork. (I hope you’re paying attention to this!) If you want other people to give you credit for your images, you first have to give yourself credit. This means a complete credit line with every piece you have on your site. It should look something like this:

©2010 Alyson B. Stanfield, On a Windy Day. Hand-dyed fabrics, reclaimed wood, ink, and thread, 36 x 24 inches.

Avoid using “quotation marks” for your titles. They are visually distracting.

8. Add images of your art to every page of your website. Use this free virtual real estate to display your art at every opportunity.

9. Put your artist statement next to the art that it discusses. There’s no need to make it a major link.

10. Add a picture of yourself to your About page. Don’t schedule a fancy sitting at Glamour Shots. Get something casual that makes you look like a vibrant artist who is going places. (No dowdy photos allowed!)

11. Add your social media accounts to your About or Contact pages. We look for these additional ways to follow you.

FINAL WORD: Creating an entirely new website or blog is overwhelming. Tweaking what you already have is easier! Implementing even a couple of these ideas will make a big dent in the way your website functions.

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43 thoughts on “11 Fast Website or Blog Fixes”

  1. These are great! I remember several years ago you advised me to put my name on every page of my site and it is really good advice.
    I would also add – make sure your navigation bar is on every page. Frequently I will visit artists sites and land on their resume and have no way of getting to the rest of site.
    Thanks for this Alyson, always good information!

  2. Alyson, May I ask a question? In today’s newsletter you stated we should add a credit line next to each painting. At the end of this year, when it becomes 2011, do we need to go back and change all those 2010s with 2011s? Thank you

  3. Hi Alyson;
    Great suggestions! As a person who cruises a lot of art websites, can I suggest a few more things?
    a) Flash based sites are really hard to navigate. They also take too long to upload and switch from image to image. HTML coded sites rather than flash will also help with search engine optimization.
    b) Contact info – please put all your contact info on the site – phone, address, and email. Some people are hesitant to do this for fear of privacy or spam but the fear is not worth the loss of potential personal contact with a buyer.
    c) Use video! Whip out that flip camera and make a video of you in your studio. Talk about what you do and why. Intersperse images of your work. It is easy to edit on most PC or Mac programs – once you are done, load to YouTube and then embedd that link into your website. Easy and very powerful. PS – does not need to be super professional – just make it personal. People love to learn about you and your story.
    d) When possible, show samples of your artwork insitu – on a wall, in a gallery, or other. This helps people understand scale and gives them a better idea of what the art work might look like “in place.”
    Hope these ideas help!
    Janelle Baglien
    Studio Art Direct

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Janelle: As always, your input is appreciated. I was going for fast, so switching from Flash to a whole new site wasn’t necessarily on my list, but you’re absolutely right. Can’t stand Flash sites.
      Your b) is perfect. Easy-to-find contact info is critical.

  4. Alyson – I just finished merging my website and blog and realized that I did not have my name anywhere! Thanks for the every page tip. I also just went in and made the change from “Galleries” to “Portfolio.” Thanks! – JOHN

  5. As a web designer by trade I have to agree with a lot of the above notations, but have a few of my own to offer as well.
    #1: Splash pages can be useful if done correctly. However not many folks understand the keys points to making a splash page work. So I’ll agree here.. stay away from them. You’ll drive traffic away for sure with a poorly designed splash page.
    2. By adding what’s called a “tag line” will get your name into the top of the page, often right under or to the opposite side of the logo-header. Ex. “The art of [insert name here].” Is a beautiful and simple way of getting your name seen upfront.
    2.a. Headers, the top of the page, should be the same in every page. This often has you logo, company name, and main navigation at the minimum. Good, plain-language navigation is essential or you will loose people out of frustration. Not everyone was raised to understand “weird” or creative navigation…. Not everyone is net savvy!
    3. Yes yes yes yes yes! and don’t “stuff” them with duplicate words. The search engines with kill the site for that quickly, especially Google. Also don’t stuff every page with the same meta data, make each page unique and only put into the meta data what is in the page. Period. You’ll get more traffic that way.
    4. / 5. As an artist it is of vital importance that your artwork gets “top billing” in some way. If your blog is an “art blog” make sure you put your categories in a side bar up near the top of the main content area, or if it’s simple gallery put it in your main navigation. Or offer in the header, just under your logo, a “slide-show” of “most recent” or “featured” artwork. Otherwise what is the point? Consider too what you want more, exposure of your art or people reading about you talking about your art? If you want to put your artwork first, think about linking to your blog instead of having it as the main-driving page to your site.
    5. However keep your main navigation simple. 5-7 links max. This also enforces the need to focus your website.
    6. Also think about your thumbnails. I had for a while a successful draw because I’d crop the image down to hands and feet only, which made people curious. However you should really think about what the thumbnail looks like, large is good, but not if the whole piece is squashed down. Think about the most dynamic part and maybe crop down to that to try and draw attention.
    Or use the standard smaller banner sizes for ads. It’s a subconscious thing, but people may be more drawn to this as they see it all the time.
    7. YES!
    8. Yes, but be careful. You don’t want to clutter it so much that people can’t find their way through. Think about what the page is about then maybe create or find a piece of art that works. Think of this like you would placing art in a home, or a gallery show case.
    10. Yes. A must, it connects the visitor to you in a very personal way and gives you more personality then through a cold website.
    11. This is a huge marketing requirement in today’s net. It’s part of the “networking” skill we all must acquire as we try to self- market and self-promote. However make sure that these links also reflect your site and vice versus. Many artists will make say a facebook page specifically for their business, and link to that instead of their personal facebook account. Many will create a separate twitter account /just/ for their websites and artwork (part of niche marketing). Doing this reduces “white noise” and “social clutter”. 🙂
    Thank you for this post! Now I feel the need to work up several of my own just on little portions of this topic. 🙂

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Hope: I’m going to semi disagree with you on #2a. The new site at ArtBizCoach.com I’m building has different headers on pages, but I did keep my name/logo in the same spot and in the same color on every page. I think it works nicely.
      Seth Godin left an interesting challenge recently: Does your website look like your competitors’? His point was that all websites are the same. We need to dare to be different.
      I’d say not TOO different. There’s a Web protocol that we should be aware of. But I don’t think every header needs to be exactly the same. You can tell me I’m way off after you see my new site.

    2. That’s an interesting thought, actually. I’ve seen some sites change their headers slightly depending on what portion of the site they are located upon. I’ll have to check out your update to see if this is what you did as well.
      In some cases this makes sense, especially if the different sub-pages are to be set up as their own mini-site. Or if there is a specific theme or need in regards to this.
      Seth has a good point in his query, and it’s something I remember from a business psych class I took years ago – about “white noise” in advertising. It’s the “cereal box design” argument in effect. once everything looks the same it’s hard to stand out.

  6. Thanks, Alyson, for this post, and to all others for their helpful input. Can someone tell me how to make a copyright sign with a basic computer keyboard? Or is it permissible to use parentheses around a letter c?
    Thank you,
    Carol Beth Icard

  7. HJM art gallery (Helen)

    Thank you so much, Alyson! Sometimes simple things can make a big difference! I am also considering inviting a few permanent blog contributors to my blog to get some fresh perspective on art and other art related topics.
    Carol Beth Icard, it’s Option + “g” for © on the mac, not sure about pc 🙂 hope this helps. I think you could just use the word “copyright” without the symbol. But maybe Alyson could clarify this a bit more.

  8. Like others, I don’t know how to put the copyright symbol “little c with the circle” on my blog or web site. How do I make that symbol on a PC?
    There are a lot of great ideas here. thanks.

  9. Geeze and I thought I was all done with this…gotta get back to work. I created my web site with IWEB (Mac) not sure what the meta tags are since I do not see code. Would that be simply the title of my pages on the side bar?
    I can’t figure that it would add something to put all this copyright info as suggested wouldn’t it make it all too clutered? Than for such great input from all.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Colette: A website is NEVER done! You should always be improving it.
      Not sure how iWeb works, but you need to know this stuff if you are going to do it yourself and you want it to function properly. The problem with using do-it-yourself stuff is that, sure, you can do it to a point. But most people don’t know how to make it function behind the scenes and with search engines.
      As for “too cluttered,” would you show your art in a gallery without all of that info? No. You want credit! You must add it to your images. Besides, if an art consultant sees your stuff, she’s going to wonder what size is it? What’s the medium? And she’s probably not going to bother contacting you if it’s not there. She’ll just find an artist who has it all in place.

    2. Hi Colette
      I heard that iWeb has no such features. iWeb was made available for personal use like, sharing photos or travel news with your friends and family. As a business website, it is hard to get search engines to find you.
      You have to create a google account and give your website so that googlel knows you exist. Others will know more about it I guess. 🙂
      I am using iWeb as well but I am still contemplating to change to another easy to manage possibility like http://www.weebly.com (free websites).
      Thanks to all for the great recommendations. I am off to add the © to all my paintings. 🙂

  10. To create the copyright symbol on a PC, hold down the ALT key and then press 0169 on the numeric keypad on the keyboard. If using a notebook, press the ALT key, then hold down the the Fn key to create a numeric keypad in the middle of your standard keys and press the keys for 0169. They will usually be marked. It won’t work to use the numbers above the QWERTY keys.
    Short version: ALT+ 0169
    Judith, a splash page is a page with possibly some intro content, but no real content. It will often be created in Flash, and will usually say “Click to Enter Website” someplace on it. I haven’t seen one on a business website in a long time, but they are still found on a lot of personal websites.
    My basic philosophy is that when someone goes to a website I’ve designed, I want them to say “Wow, what great artwork!” Not, “Wow, what clever programming!” If the website is doing its job, it should be basically a nice support vessel for the content. Sure, you need good structure, nice look, easy (and easy-to-find) navigation, but the content is what should stand out.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Love your philosophy, Cynthia! That’s exactly what I tell artists. Show off the art, not the website design.

  11. Karen Steffano

    I have only just finished my new website so this post was good timing.
    I might do a bit of tweaking here and there. The problem is I love fiddling about and tinkering with it , so I am not getting into the studio to do any actual painting.
    I decided my blog was not the best place to display my art, but I am still keeping the blog for what it is for – blogging!

  12. Great article and thanks for the advice. I mentionned your post on my blog review. I hope you get French readers through my blog 🙂
    Best, JG

  13. Re Contact Info and Spam: While it’s not perfect, using an image with your name, address, telephone number, etc. prevents some “bots” from picking these items up from your web site. For example, you could make an image of your business card. That also brings design compatibility to your business card and web site. As Alyson suggested to me, make clicking on that image jump to your e-mail form/guestbook.

  14. I just must add that I really prefer simple backgrounds (like this!) and softer lighter backgrounds – again – like this. I often can’t read (or can’t stay around to read) white fonts on black or dark backgrounds. Or… RED on black! Very distracting and often actually very hard to read.
    Although art work “stands-out” against the darkness, I am unsure that it “elevates” and I don’t think it is worth doing if you can’t read anything on the site.
    I wonder what others feel about this. Is it just me?

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  16. I have a PC and I tried the ALT + 0169 to get a copyright symbol. It doesn’t work. I even tried typing a c and then the key combo and visa versa. Did anyone else encounter this? Is there another secret key combination? Thanks!

    1. Hi Jan,
      Having just finished adding a copyright symbol to every painting on my web site, I can tell you that it works on a PC, but you have to make sure to use the numbers to the right on your keyboard, not the numbers that are above the letters (QWERTY). It’s magic!

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  18. I posted here yesterday–its the first time I have ever visited your blog and posted . My comment was deleted I guess .. Did I do something wrong or are only some people allowed to comment? What happened to my comment?

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Jamie: Did you see it published? Because I don’t have any record of it. And I certainly didn’t delete anything. I only delete spam and mean comments. Sorry it’s MIA. I hope you post again!

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Get a transcript of episode 182 of The Art Biz (Rethinking Mailing Lists for Artists) followed by a 3-page worksheet to evaluate the overall health and usage of the 3 types of artist lists.

Where can we send it? 

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You’ll also receive my regular news for your art business.

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