The Utah Arts Council and Artists of Utah treated over fifty Utah artists to an invaluable crash course in website design and creation issues recently. On October 8, presenters Steve Coray, Shawn Rossiter and Kenny Pratt conducted the free workshop to help artists answer their questions and concerns about using the internet to promote their work. The following list of suggestions were highlights from the discussion:
1. You are selling “you.” When settling on a domain name, consider seriously making it your first and last name (ex: www.stevejones.com). Domain names can be reserved for about $25 per year, so register yours now!
2. There are a lot of extensions available these days (.biz, .us, ETC.). Since “.com” is the most widely used, register your name using that extension. If your name has already been taken, add a word to the title, just so you can still get a “.com” name (ex: www.stevejonesart.com).
3. Keep your eye out for package deals — service providers that give you site hosting, email and will register your domain name. Prices vary widely, so research and compare.
5. Include a guest book on your site — collect your visitors’ snail mail and email as well. And ask them where they learned of your site — you need to know what marketing efforts are working for you.
6. Avoid unnecessary whistles and bells. Your site should focus attention on your artwork, not on how many programming tricks your web designer knows. All of that flashy stuff takes extra time to download. Most visitors will move on to another site if they have too wait too long for yours to load.
7. Flash protects your images, but your images will look fine on the web at a resolution that will not be able to be used for physical copies.
8. For use on a website, create your artwork to the size files will appear on screen. They should have a resolution of 72 pixels per inch and should be saved in the JPG format (at the highest quality possible). A total file size of 500k is plenty big for most full-size images, and 10-15k for most thumbnails.
9. Plan ahead. Define the nature, size, audience, uses, navigation, etc. of your site before building. You’ll save time, money and frustration if you have a detailed plan before the coding begins.
10. Want to use your site to sell? PayPal (www.paypal.com) allows an inexpensive way to accept credit cards online.
But just having a site is not enough. You have to get people to use it! The Artists of Utah directory of member artists is a great way to direct visitors to artist websites. It’s an alphabetical listing of artists, along with their contact information, a brief statement about their work, up to three thumbnail images, and a link to the artist’s own site.
But whoa, wait a minute, you say! Most artists don’t have digital images of their work and may not know where to go to get started. Well, once again, it was Artists of Utah to the rescue. To help contributing members get the most out of their directory listing, Steve Coray volunteered to shoot three pieces for each artist. Thumbnails of these images were then posted to the artists’ entries in the directory. As part of the fall fundraising campaign, AoU asked for a $20 donation to the organization for the service.
With some exciting new offerings soon to be announced, watch for this service to be offered again.
Kenny Pratt, of KJP Studios, answered technical questions and presented his innovative website solutions for artists. His company offers a “template” solution that allows artists to maintain and update their own site without having to learn programming. Interested artists can visit their site where they have created a page for Artists of Utah.
This article appeared in the October 2002 edition of 15 Bytes.