One of the most important factors that bring more collectors to your art website is often overlooked. It’s unfortunate because artists who fail to fix this one important element turn off the few visitors they do get. Even worse, they signal to search engines that their website is worth attention.
So what is this critical element that can doom your artist website? It’s user experience. User experience refers to the feeling users experience when using your website. It covers how well they can navigate, how easy it is to use, and whether your website meets their expectations.
When designing an artist’s website, most artists usually focus on presenting their art. They pay attention to the images, the writing, and telling their artist story. After all, it’s this content that entices our collectors to stay on their website, engage, become fans, and purchase art.
However, before your collectors can appreciate the art on a website, they must be able to use the website effortlessly. This is where the concept of “user experience” comes into play. This is why focusing on user experience is imperative to the success of your website.
The phrase “user experience” refers to how well your art website performs for the user. Your collectors will remain on your website longer and engage with your artwork if your content is:
- Fast to Load
- Easy to Navigate; and
- Aesthetically Pleasing.
You Need a Fast Website For Your Art
Of all the ways to improve your user experience, speed is probably the most significant. You can be making the best art in the world, but if your website visitors have to wait to see it, they probably won’t.
According to Dotcom Monitor, 40% of people report leaving a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. 47% of users expect desktop sites to load in 2 seconds or less.
Impatient users are only part of the pitfall of a slow website. Search engines, such as Google, Yahoo and Bing, consider your website load time in their rankings. In other words, if you have a slow website, users may never even find it. Search engines understand that users won’t stick around for a slow website, so there’s no point in serving them up.
Websites are slowed by poor hosting, huge applications (like plug-ins and scripts), and large file sizes (like images that have not been compressed.) Make sure to check for any items that might cause your site to slow down. If you are not sure what is slowing your website, use Google’s Page Speed Index, which will also give you recommendations to speed up your site.
Another factor affecting speed is how responsive your art website is. This means how it is formatted to appear on various devices. This is called responsive website design. Most website providers will do this for you, but make sure that your website easily loads on desktops, tablets, and cell phones.
It may seem surprising, but about half of your traffic will come from people who are using their smart phone to access your website. If your website is slow or doesn’t load correctly, they will abandon it and never return. It is important that you test your website on a desktop, a tablet, as well as a cell phone.
Your Website Should Be Easy to Navigate
Having a fast website is more than just load times. It should be fast and easy to find what your collectors are looking for. The navigation should be straightforward and intuitive. Your website visitors should be able to quickly understand what they’ll find on each of your pages and how to get there.
Using a simple and clear menu at the top of your website is imperative. It should easily take your collector to your art portfolio, find your pieces that are for sale, and find information about you, the artist.
In addition, you should have a search function on your website so that users can search for items that are not necessarily on the front page.
And finally, if you have categories of artwork, there should be prominent links to get to them. For example, if you sort your art by originals, prints, and notecards, links to these various sections of your site should be in your navigation. Most website templates allow you to have both a main menu, as well as a sub-menu. Be sure to utilize these features.
Your Website Design Should be Aesthetically Pleasing
The most important design factor for an art website is that it should be spacious.
Think of visiting a high-end art gallery or museum. One of the first visual elements you will notice is that there is plenty of space between the artworks. The spaciousness is intentional. It allows the viewer to take in the art.
You can translate this spacious feeling to your art website by allowing for plenty of white space between the elements. Choose a website template that accounts for this. The elements should not be crowded. Use a white background and simple and clean fonts that are cohesive throughout your website.
Avoid using unusual fonts, font colors, blinking buttons, and icons, or any other elements that distract from your art. When you’re first designing websites, it’s tempting to use these features, but rest assured, they will not help you sell your art. They are a distraction.
Your design should be simple enough so that your art stands out as the most important element.
Test, Test, Test Your Art Website User Experience
Website user experience can be affected any time you make a website update. This is why it’s important to test, test, test. When testing your website, make sure to log out of your favored browser and enter into incognito mode. This will prevent you from being served a cached version of your site so that you can experience your website as though you are a new user.
It may also be helpful to invite friends or fellow artists to visit your website and let you know if it was slow, difficult to navigate, or visually crowded. You put a lot of effort into building your website, make sure you give it the best user experience possible. If your users have a bad experience, they will bounce off. Even worse, search engines will drop your site to the bottom of the list.