When You Do Your Own Web Site

Well, well, well. I had my first Dreamweaver class last night. I’ve been sitting on this expensive program for two months now and I’m finally using it. What took me so long? This thing is fantastic! I still only know the basics, but I am loving it and loving life right now. I only wish the ArtBizCoach.com site was created with it.

I counsel a lot of artists to hire a Web designer and guru like mine. (Okay, I do most of the designing, but Pat is my right arm.) Your genius is in your art and it takes years to be proficient with the Internet. If you devote too much time to a Web site, you’ll have little time to work on your art. And, the truth is, most first-time Web sites really stink. I remember my own. And I visit awfully ugly artists’ sites each and every day. (Is yours one of them?)

Most artists use their sites as a portfolio. But, even with all of the above in mind, if you are taking your art and turning it into a Web-based business with lots of Web-based sales (maybe e-books, DVDs, etc.), you really have to know the basics of Web design.

Take a class if you need to. But, if you’re one of those artists who needs to spend less time online AND if you want a quality site, hire someone (someone who knows what they’re doing and doesn’t take you for a ride) to set it up for you! You can always learn to edit it later.

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16 comments to When You Do Your Own Web Site

  • Thanks for the info. I have a question. I recently created a blog, Thick Paint at http://thickpaint.blogspot.com/. I love it and have gotten positive feedback. However, I’ve been told it can be frustrating to make a comment with Blogger’s format. How do I build a Type Pad into my blog? Can anyone point me in the right direction on figuring this out?

  • Shan, you just need to allow others to leave comments. It must be a setting, but it allows “Other” bloggers to post. Sorry, I don’t know any more than that.

  • I use Dreamweaver. I started with Frontpage back in the 90’s, but moved to Dreamweaver last year. I do my own site, and I used to do my husband’s who is a sculptor. Then a few years ago we hired a pro to do his website. Since then, it’s been difficult to update and he’s received less comments and visitors. He says he’d like to go back to the way we used to do it, with more of the artist’s individual touch. I’m working on it but don’t have time to both his and mine! My own site it not that professional looking, but I don’t want it to be. I want it to be a little quirky like me. It takes me a lot of time to figure out how to do things in Dreamweaver, but in some ways it’s also time well spent because I’m looking at my work, studying what fits into my current body of work and what doesn’t. In taking photos of my studio for the site, I saw from a photographers eye what looked bad. So I reorganized and re-took the photos and it looked much better. I guess all that paid off, because recently a PBS director has contacted me about coming to my studio and taping for a documtary. She had seen my work in a couple of shows she was featuring and said that it’s because of visiting my website that made her decision to feature my studio out of all the other artists in the show. If you go to my site, it’s got it’s problems and needs updating. But I’ve also tried to give it a personal touch because I think that’s what people who are interested in art and artists are looking for.

  • Cassondra Sweep

    One thing I would add to that – If you have a website built for you, make sure you can easily add your own content. Otherwise you’ll be paying your designer probably upwards of $65/hr to add new images and text – which you should update frequently to keep people coming back to your site.

  • I just saw Shawn’s comment. Blogger has lately added a filter for automatic spammers. It forces you to look at a distorted photo of text and retype that text. I hate it, it’s sometimes hard to read, and makes leaving a comment much more difficult, so I’m less likely to do it. I turned it off in my blog. It’s in Settings: Comments: Enable Word Verification: Yes or No.

  • This blog is so helpful. Thanks both Alyson and Pam for the advice. Pam, your site functions beautifully and your work is great. I, too, created my own site. Although I’m just learning I like the creative control I have over my site and am thrilled with all the new things I’m learning.

  • I have websites using different softwares. The more difficult one is creating in Adobe Photoshop & Adobe Image Ready. I use this our restaurant/b&b business. I’m the only one that updates it and I have total control. Then I use Yahoo SiteBuilder for a gallery I volunteer for and my own personal artist website. http://us.1.p2.webhosting.yahoo.com/ps/sb/index.php Sitebuilder is free through Yahoo, has templates if you want them (I just start out blank to get what I want). The reason I use the SiteBuilder for another client, is because if I ever stop working with them, it is easily transferable to another user. On my artist website, I mix both Adobe and SiteBuilder. Once you get the hang of something, it’s fun to experiment!

  • Hi all, Great comments on the website construction conundrum. Pam… what are the URLs of the sites you were discussing. It would be good to look at them. Also, I’m wondering if Alyson has ever posted some artist sites that she thinks are particularly good and why. And would it be appropriate for some of us to critique each others sites? Kristen http://www.metalphoria.com

  • Kristen, your site is very, very good. Also your comment about this blog having websites of artists (kind of like in previous blog posts about other artists’ blots)listed is good too. I get lots of ideas, creatively, from other sites. Not a direct steal…but, other sites lead me a new direction of design that would not have occurred to me on my own! If other artists reply to this blog subject, maybe then can tell us what program they used to create it and how they liked-or disliked it.

  • I don’t feel it’s my place to critique artists’ sites and I wouldn’t want this blog to be used as a discussion group for those purposes. I don’t feature individual artist sites except in my newsletter (and sometimes blog postings). They always contain a link to the individual sites. Check out the archives at http://www.artbizcoach.com/dothis/archive.html Each newsletter has a photo with an individual artist’s site. Thanks for the great feedback, folks!

  • P.s. What you’re talking about, which is kind of discussion-group-like, would make a great wiki, which I hope to do in the future. Right now, a lot of members in my classes request critiques from other members.

  • A few comments from a geek artist: 1) If you are paying for a website what you need is a “Content Management System”. If your web designer doesn’t know what that means find a different one. This is what will allow you to update the content without help later on. 2) Blog comments: Blogger.com comments are annoying with the validation word. It’s a result of poor spam management. You can control your comment settings – look for the comment tab in your settings. I use wordpress and so far their spam management has filtered out each and every spam comment and not posted it on my site so no need to have word verification. Typepad includes similar functionality. 3) If you are looking for a platform to create a free blog I highly recommend the free wordpress blogs at http://www.wordpress.com. It’s similar to blogger but in my opinion the underlying system is better. [I use wordpress but I manage it on my own webserver.] 4) Off and on I’ve considered starting a “tech help for artists” blog. I feel there is a lot of bad or even wrong advice in regards to technology for artists. Although never from Alyson – she has yet to steer us wrong on technology. For a non tech person Alyson, I’m impressed with the tech content of your advice. You clearly always do your research and give us good advice. Thank you! I don’t really have time to do this but I think it would be a big help and way for me to give back to the larger art community. *If* I did I’d be more than willing to critique websites because there is a lot of room for improvement out there. (I think my current website is horrible – it’s out of date and in serious need of a face lift (http://www.lisacall.com) but I recently designed a group site that I think is way better (http://www.thefiberconnection.com). I work with usability engineers and have learned alot about good website design from them. Maybe I should think about this more. I just need another 4-5 hours in a day. 5) Although I think a wiki site would be wodnerful Alyson! We use one at work to sort out all our geek stuff for projects and it’s a great tool. And very easy to add content. It would such a huge value for artists to be able to interact with one another. Do it!! But write that book first.

  • I forgot to mention in regards to Jayne’s question: I hand code the html/css on all my websites. I’m learning php (for content management) so I can redo my own website and have it more manageable. I personally think I have more control this way but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone that doesn’t have a lot of computer experience. I’ve seen some pretty bad hand coded sites by beginners (and professionals which is rather sad).

  • Lisa, of course you don’t have time for a tech blog for artists. But I’d love to send people to it!

  • Alsyon- I am determined to take a Dreamweaver class in the future. I don’t think I would ever trust myself to design my own site, but it certainly would be nice to slip in and add or make deletions and small updates myself. Artists friends swear by Dreamweaver, although a few have had problems and had their entire site botched when an update didn’t come out correctly. At any rate, if Alyson Stanfield says Dreamweaver is worth the trouble, that’s all I need to hear. Deb

  • Diane Clancy

    Hi – This is my first post here even though I was a leader in a local group using Alyson’s materials. I also read her newsletter. She has convinced me (through her materials) to start a blog – http://www.dianeclancy.com/blog – to go along with my website. Like Lisa, I am using WordPress. I looked around and it seemed very good. When I wanted to make changes to it’s “look”, it has been tricky editing the php things when I don’t know php. But there are dozens of “looks” to choose from that need no editing. Also, there is a group of people who will install your blod for free. I decided to face the fear of doing it myself and it wasn’t as hard (as usual) as I had feared. Personally, I use GoLive for webdesign and I think it is a good program. I know Dreamweaver has a better reputation for artists but I have used a lot of Adobe programs for years and I like the way they relate to each other. I get a lot from reading what each of you says. – Diane Clancy