Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Artist Websites: What makes them suck?

I'm in the process of designing a portfolio website for myself, and got a bit scared when I saw this.

Katherine Tyrell gathered feedback via Making a Mark from her readers showing what not to do on your artist website or blog. Her graphic needs no explanation, and is an eye-opener.

I agree with all the issues raised by her poll, but it also made me wonder: I upload the largest images I can find because that's what I personally look for on a site, but does that make my site load too slowly? Please do drop me a line and let me know if you've any problems with the blog. I'd really appreciate it.

Further reading:

50 fresh portfolio websites for your inspiration!
50 stunning portfolio websites for your inspiration!


  1. I have never had a problem with images loading at all Alan... even with an 8 year old computer on cable connection. I hope this helps. :)

  2. Hi Alan, No problems ever with your website. It is interesting, straight forward and I love large images but only when they don't take forever to load. I always use large images and I receive lots of compliments. Your images are just right. I agree with every one of the feedback issues, especially the first three.

  3. Hello, Alan - Your site works great, and I've never had any problems. I especially appreciate the clean design of your page - your text is easy to read and there's nothing to distract from whatever image is the focal point. If I were answering Katherine's poll, squinting at reversed type would rank much higher as a pet peeve.

  4. I think your entries are thought provoking and never fail to be funny too. Everything loads quickly in my experience. Something that makes me leave an art website quickly is the indiscriminate inclusion of dozens or hundreds of artists with no seeming relationship between their works other than the money the website can generate for itself by adding more artists.

  5. Hi Alan,
    you'll never please everyone... so for a certain amount you should do what suits your own personal style and what you are comfortable with because there will *always8 be someone who would want to have you do it differently. (i.e. their way)

    Heck, the photos on my blog are MASSIVE to your huge and no one has ever said they take too long to load. I certainly have never ever had any problem with yours and I've logged onto your blog from different countries with connections of all types.

    Registration required... depends on what I think the site wants to do with the information I am required to supply in registering. Usually very little is needed, mm email address for a newsletter maybe but you have that vis any comment I make anyway. True, I'd be less inclined to use a site that I needed to register for.

    Automatic music... definite no no for me at least... I'm looking at an art site and not a music one. If I want to look you up in my coffee break at work I don't want to be disturbing colleagues, and if I'm multi-tasking: surfing whist supervising that kid or two next to me is doing their homework it would be an unwelcome distraction.

    Good clear navigation for me is a must, as is great, nay excellent content, but you have mastered both on this site so I trust that if you set up a portfolio website for yourself you are already on the right track.

    Fear not, I'm sure your portfolio site will look fabulous, this one certainly does :)

  6. Excellent comments, thank you all!

    Another tip I got from my web designer is not to have any text saved as image files. The text can't be read by search engines if it's an image.

    Also, no Flash. Too many people use iPhones and iPads to browse, and Flash isn't supported. Anyway, I've always disliked landing on a site's homepage only to have to wait for some irrelevant Flash movie to load before I can move on to the actual site.

  7. This comment was sent to me via email from Meg Hosler, and is re-printed with permission:

    "I have no difficulty at all with your site in terms of loading images, but I also have new computers....and Verizon FIos internet, so I cannot speak for anyone but myself.

    Referencing the chart you provided.... the registration process does not bother me unless it asks for birthday data as a mandatory field. I agree that music is usually instantly a turn off because peoples tastes are different, and If I want to listen to music....I would have it playing in my own home on a specific genre...that i like... i also do not like any FLASH media playing that I have to stop or otherwise put up with... I think the flash just keeps one from focusing on what they are looking for.... I enjoy looking a pictures at my own leisure...not hurriedly....

    My website is getting cluttered an needs cleaning up... Sometimes as security packages change it can cause problems with websites For Instance, I am going though my site changing files names because my hosting service implemented a new security feature that does not permit spaces in file names even though its okay in operating use spaces... so files like "shimmering cream plaster.jpg" will cause my website to lock down if any attempt to ope the file occurs.. so some design considerations are needed if you are building a site... I still have three files I need to locate and fix, that show up as red x's for the the image is broken when in fact it is not. I am operating in a Whitelist mode until I get all my file names fixes...

    A search is a key factor on a website I think...and I don't have one and find it frustrating sometimes even for me when I am looking for something.

    I am in the autumn of my decorative plaster and painting career and don't want to build a new website... but If I did I would keep it simple, and just show beautiful work in high contrast text so it is easily read. My text is a little too light and but it doesn't compete with the color in the photos...

    On websites that are really difficult to read, I highlight the entire page to see it in different colors...

    Also, if building a website, I would put one of the color selection bars at the bottom of the screen that allows each visitor to change the background color that they are viewing the site on....if you don't know what I mean I will try to find one for you... I know John Schell has developed several that let the viewer select the background color..."

    Thanks Meg, great tips.

  8. Have never had problems with your site, Alan. Always so nice to see visually as well. But I hear ya -- I fret with mine non-stop and I'm sure it's not perfect. I love big pics, though, and will wait a bit for them to load if need be -- if there's tiny ones I get so frustrated because you can't see the detail. Very cool post, thank you!

  9. Your site is a delight! I would always want to see what you produce for the information, the images and the wonderful resources you find.

  10. Bigger is Better! I hate tiny images! Now if I could just get around to re-doing my site I'd be really happy!

  11. Very good excellent. Thanks from Venezuela ... humberto antonio desde venezuela >>>> TU SITIO ES MUY RAPIDO SE VE PERFECTO BLOG MUY BUENA.


  13. If by "my site" you mean this blog - it loads with no problem even on my old, slow laptop. I think that Blogspot optimizes the images on its own, so that the ones in a post are by default smaller... and by clicking on them you can then access the larger ones.

  14. This poll is absolutely true! The owner should do something about it. They should move to a better and faster web hosting. Also, they should make their website clean and simple. Fancy designs and too many images take up too much bandwidth.

  15. A quick fix for the website loading problem due to hi-res pics loading is to host them on another website or something like Dropbox or Flickr. Then just put a thumbnail version or something smaller yet still makes the pictures’ prominent figures discernable, and then use that thumbnail to link to the original picture. That way, if they want to see the higher-quality pics, it won’t hinder the whole page’s loading time.

  16. This list is pretty much spot on. While the logic of putting a registration feature might be to see who views your work, adding one can be counter-intuitive, since the original purpose of the website portfolio is to show your work to as many clients or companies as possible. And having to register before they can see anything can be off-putting. As for security purposes, there are scripts and various workarounds that you can use to make sure that no one steals your images and content.

    With regards to the images, a large image or two would not go amiss, or if you can arrange them in a panel slideshow so that all of them won’t load at the same time, then it really shouldn’t be a problem. The concern, at that point, lies with the computer of the person accessing the site, and you really have no control over that.

    Anyways, thanks for sharing! It is really a good point of reference for people who are trying to make their own website portfolio.

    Chris Clay | The Clay Media

  17. We are the best IT services provider in Pakistan, UAE, KSA and Bahrain.
    Best Zoho CRM Software consulting.

    Customer Relationship Management Software