A photography website will help showcase your photos. Great photography websites help sell your photos.
Read on and apply these easy tips for a better photography website, if you want to make yours more attractive to potential clients.
Your website is the first anyone will see of your work, your personality and what makes YOU different from all the rest. So it does not take a genius to figure out it needs lots of attention.
I launched my first website in 2010 with absolutely no experience in web design. So the route that made the most sense was using a template based platform and I still believe it is to this day.
Unfortunately at the time there wasn't the extensive choice available today (it’s incredible the evolution these have gone through in only 4 years) so I opted for one which in time turned out to be quite limiting.
So that's my first tip: Check carefully for examples of user websites if you're interested in a particular provider.
Never mind about choosing badly, I have since swapped over and this is how you learn in life. You learn what you want, what you don’t want, the limitations of certain platforms, etc… And not only was the company I used not so good, but I also didn’t have the knowledge I have today. But I take these 4 years on-board as a learning period that lead to how my website looks today.
Think of template based websites as being given the keys to an empty house and all you have to do is put the right furniture in and maybe knock a few walls down so it’s comfortable enough to live in and so that your friends who visit you compliment you on it and quite importantly... want to visit you again.
But just like in real life, some people just don’t have good taste and some pretty shockingly bad websites out there just don’t work.
To continue with the house / website metaphor, a good website is a website that is free from clutter. So please don't turn into a web based compulsive hoarder.
When you reach a homepage and there are so many bits screaming for your attention, well it’s a little off-putting. So go easy on the design, keep it simple and minimal and please don’t use too many colours, frames and too many like/tweet/pin/splash/zoop buttons. If you do, try to get them colour matched (all black for example).
Short punchy and relevant descriptions and “about” section, and most importantly, great photography are all you really need.
One of the most important lessons I have learnt is to know what is best left out. That’s often forgotten by photographers wanting to squeeze in as much as they can to somehow show off their new-found technical knowledge to the world.
Another thing I have learnt quickly is that I need my photos displayed BIG. If people use binoculars to view my photos, I’m probably doing something wrong.
Since your photos are at the heart of it all, they need to look good (please stop using big watermarks), compressed to load faster but still look good. Be very selective of what you decide to upload. Once again the principle of knowing what to leave out applies.
Something else I figured out by trial and error is that homepage slideshows are somehow bad even if they do look good.
I know it sounds weird but if people land on your homepage and see a slideshow of your work, you’re giving away everything there is to know from page one.
This means a lot of visitors will generally not bother exploring your website and that’s not what you want.
(Imagine if the Americas had been only 5 miles off the coast of Europe? It wouldn't have made Christopher Columbus' journey that exciting now would it?!)
Once I decided to stop using slideshows but instead used a homepage that tickled people’s curiosity to explore further, I saw pages/session increase, average session duration increase and bounce rates decrease (Erm...what's bounce rate? Bounce rate is the percentage of people who leave your website without clicking on a second page).
How is this important?
Well you want your website content to be “sticky”. It means to hold visitor’s attention as long as possible. It’s important as Google will rank websites better when people stay longer and visit more pages since to Google it says “this must be an interesting website”.
Work on your “About” page. It’s typically the most viewed page after the homepage, so learn to sell yourself without writing 6 pages on why you are the best, instead try to briefly tell your potential clients what you can do for them, how you can solve their problem.
I have an aversion to photography websites where photographers speak of themselves at the third person. I find it very pretentious since it’s written by themselves but maybe it’s just a matter of personal choice though.
I could go on and on but I think this will be it for now and it's only the tip of the photography website iceberg.
One thing though I’ll add it that even though I’m giving these tips that work for me, I’m in no way THE expert in websites. I'm a photographer first. I have taught myself some HTML and CSS to go beyond the standard templates but a website is never a finished product and mine is far from perfect.
You have to constantly adapt, follow trends, learn to use Google Analytics to understand your visitors’ behaviours and make tiny, sometimes big, changes to improve on some metrics. Sometimes you’ll see stats improve and sometimes that tweak will actually be detrimental. It may seem hell to understand for some but this is why I went for template based as it forces me to be in charge and understand what I do.
If I had gone down the route of asking someone to build my website, I would learn a lot less and I would be dependent on that person to make changes for me.
I hope you found that useful and please leave a comment or contact me if you’d like me to discuss other aspects in a future article.