Last week I sent out an offer on Twitter to critique some photographer’s websites for free. Its actually a lot of fun. But each time I do this, I’m reminded at how little most people know and understand about what makes an effective website. So, here are a few simple tips that you should consider when building/designing your photography site:
- Prominently display your “Unique Selling Proposition“
- If you don’t tell people right up front what your specialty is and why they should hire you, they’ll have no reason to do so. Focus your business on what you’re best at and and tell people what that his. This separates you from your competition and allows you to charge more for your services.
- Allow for super fast browsing of your portfolio
- Make sure people can look through your photos extremely quickly. If someone gets really interested in your stuff, they’ll slow down and take a closer look. But, most people just want to cruise through your work to see if they like it. So, don’t use a flash player that fades slowly between pictures. Make sure there is a forward and back button or arrow that doesn’t move (people like being able to leave their mouse in one place and keep clicking). Make sure your menu navigation is obvious – some people, in an attempt to create a cool design, put the menu in less obvious places – this is annoying. Make sure your pictures load fast. Compress them enough that the file sizes are manageable, but not enough to where you can notice the compression. If your site is still slow, get a new host.
- Tell stories
- You’ll hear me say this over and over again: People don’t by photos, they buy stories. Whether its fine art that they want to put on a wall, or its their wedding album, or a child’s portrait, people are hiring you to help them tell a story. So, by all means, tell the stories of each of your portfolio shots on your site. This will help the potential client connect with you, realize your story-telling capabilities, and they’ll want a story of their own -FROM YOU!
- Be aware of “The Fold”
- “The fold” is a term that comes from newspaper advertising. If an advertisement is “above the fold”, then it shows up on the paper, above the actual fold of the paper so the reader sees it without having to open the paper all the way up. On the web, “above the fold” means, above the point at where people have to scroll to see it. With screens getting bigger and better every day and internet speeds getting faster and faster, people are pushing the limits of how big their photos on their site can be. Please realize though, that not everyone is browsing with a 30″ monitor. I’m on a 15″ MacBook Pro – fairly common, standard machine – and many of the sites I come across have pictures or navigation that I have to scroll down to see. Very annoying. Use Google Analytics to see what display sizes your site visitors are using and cater to them – not to your big fat monitor.
- Capture leads
- This seems to be a forgotten secret all across the web, not just for photographers. If you’re spending time, money, or effort to drive traffic to your website, then you’re completely insane to not try and capture contact information from each and every one of those visitors so that you can follow up with them as leads. I’ll post another day on how to do this, but the basic principle is to offer something valuable in exchange for contact information. This is easier to do than you think.
I’ll be posting some site critiques on this blog soon so you can see how I go about looking at a photography site and what kind of feedback I give.
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