I know websites aren’t social media, but I keep seeing the same frightening mistakes on artists sites. Remember that you only have a few seconds before your audience decides to leave a website. Don’t give them extra reasons by using these bad web design tools.

#1 -Music

In the early days of the internet, web designers liked to add all the newest bells and whistles that they learned how to make work. One of these atrocities was adding music that automatically played when you entered the site. This would sort of be like hiring a group of gang members to stand outside the doors of your business and still hope people came inside to shop. It is one of the fastest ways to get people to leave a site.

“But Lisa, I made an option where they can turn off the music!”… Very few people are going to take the time to find that button. If music starts playing on a website automatically, more often than not people instantly close the window.

#2 – Animated gifs

Just because you *can* put a butterfly flapping its wings, or stars twinkling in the background doesn’t mean you should. This makes it extremely irritating for the viewer to see anything else on the page because their eyes are drawn to that movement. Back away from the free gif sites!

#3 – Bold and Bright colors

I saw an artist’s website the other day that was almost all red. I don’t remember what their artwork looked like, I don’t remember what the text said. I remember red. Lots of red. And then I left their site because OMG RED.  There is a safety to keeping your site fairly neutral. You don’t want your website colors to draw attention away from your artwork. For me, because I dislike white so much, I’ve gone with off white and grayish teal for my background. Even that grayish teal some would say is too bold. Clearly I am not saying your websites should all be solid white, but white is safe if you can’t figure out what to go with. Tans and grays are also a great option.

Solid black seems safe and yes, your artwork does look nice against black, but any text can be really hard for some people to read.

#4 – Over-organized

Wait, how can you OVER organize something?! By putting each and everything in its own page or category. If there are too many options on your website, people will not stick around. I know personally if I want to see someone’s work and I have to click “gallery”, then decide if I want to see the graphite, oil painting or acrylic painting section before I then choose subject matter…I’m done. If you want to organize your work within the gallery by medium or subject, fine, but don’t require the viewer to click multiple links before they see anything.

#5 Too much or not enough text

You NEED text in order for search engines to know what your site contains, but too much can also be an issue. People don’t want to read. You have to get to the point, and get there quickly. Anything you write, besides blog posts, should be able to fit within a twitter post. If you write a novel about every single thing, no one will read it.

#6 Describing yourself using boastful adjectives

I remember an artist who compared her work with the old masters. Her work was not very good. I normally wouldn’t have judged someone so harshly, but because she had proclaimed on the front page of her website that her work was so great…she turned into a bit of a joke for me, and many other viewers. There is a big difference between stating “In this painting I wanted to capture the beauty of the ocean” and “Beautiful artwork by (insert your name here)”. If you have to tell people that your work is fantastic, it probably isn’t.  You tell them what the artwork means, let them decide if it’s beautiful, fantastic, or amazing.

#7 Welcome, click here to enter

Luckily we’re not seeing this as often anymore but it still happens. A page that says “welcome to blah blah fine art. Click here to enter”.  First off, NEVER say “welcome to…” on your website.  It’s sort of like saying “water is wet”. Obviously they’re welcome, stop filling up the page with unnecessary text! What is worse though is an actual “click here to enter” page. Don’t give your viewers extra work. Put the information they will be interested in on the first page they see!