Table of Contents » Chapter 7 : Documentation » Chapter 7 : Websites

Chapter 7 : Websites

For an excellent information about social media, please see Sunshine Cobb’s excellent essay on the blog page.

A web presence is a must for any artist working in the field today. If you do not have a website, blog or web representation though a gallery or arts center, often your work will not be taken as seriously, as this is an essential tool of communication today. There has never been such a dynamic or interactive opportunity for promoting yourself and a website is arguably the best marketing tool an artist has ever had. Websites allow for galleries, collectors, businesses and individuals the ability to get an in-depth impression of who you are and what you do. Best of all you have control over what information is given. Artist’s websites are the most efficient way of informing these various venues and individuals of your portfolio, experience and personality.


Getting Started

There is a surplus of options out there in choosing what type of sight you need and how to go about getting it. The easiest method is contracting a professional to design and update a site for you. This method will be considerably more expensive than creating a site yourself. The benefit of having a professionally designed site is it incorporates your own aesthetic in its design while also relieving you of the time and responsibility of construction. If financial restraints rule out this option, not to worry, there are plenty of DIY options ranging from simple template programs that allow for easy uploading of portfolio images, to the advanced web design programs.


Contracting a Professional

A good place to start is with artist websites that have design and functionality that you enjoy. Most often these sites give credit to the designer. This information is usually found at the very bottom of a website. Contact the artist; ask them about their experience with the designer and weather they would give a recommendation. Finding a designer who understands your work and vision is essential in having a good working relationship and to guarantee that their design will work with your aesthetic. If this is the method for you then read no farther your designer will handle all the logistics and technical issues.


Website Hosting

Web hosting is a type of Internet hosting service that allows individuals and organizations to make their own websites available on the World Wide Web. Web hosts are companies who provide space on a server for use by their clients. Every site on the Internet is hosted on a server. Choosing what type of hosting company is right for you can be difficult if you don’t know what you need. These sites develop quickly, search around for one that suits your needs.

Free Hosting

There are many free hosting services on the web that trade free hosting space for the right to advertise on your site. Many free hosting sites have limitations on file sizes and bandwidth (the amount of data that can be transferred to or from a website or server). Free hosting is a great way to get a site on the web with a shoestring budget but you will not be offered many of the services that paying for hosting will afford. Using free hosting means your site’s domain name (the” www.” name of your site) will always have the sites hosting name incorporated:

Paid Hosting

Paid hosting comes with some significant advantages. Having your own domain name (www.yourname.com) is more professional and is easier to remember by collectors, galleries and individuals. Most paid hosts offer 24-hour support through e-mail or a tech support line. Bandwidth amounts are higher and you have easier ability to expand your site to include a shopping cart feature or to display large files such as video. Another feature offered by most paid hosting is traffic tracking which keeps records of the number of page visits and lists referring sites (sites that link to yours).


Creating your own Site

Online Page Builders

There are many free websites services that walk you through step by step in creating a website. Many of these sites have pre-made templates that you can “plug” your information into by using “page-building” programs that the sites offer online. This is by far the easiest method of creating a website; the disadvantage of this method is it inhibits personal expression of design. You will have to choose a template that many other sites are using and most free website services in exchange for hosting your site will place advertisements somewhere in your site. Websites that offer this service:

Website Design Programs

Regardless of what program you decide to use, it would be of great benefit to gain knowledge of html code basics. HTML stands for of Hypertext Markup Language, it is the predominant markup language for web pages. It provides a means to describe the structure of text-based information in a document by denoting certain text as headings, paragraphs, lists, and so on. This is a very simple explanation of a complicated code structure. To view the HTML code of any website open your Internet browser (Explorer, Safari or FireFox) and click the “view” option at the top of the browser, scroll down to the command titled “view source” or “page source”. A note pad document of the websites html code will appear. There are page design programs that allow you to employ “drag and drop design”, these are the easiest to use but have limitations in ability and effects. Creating a slick, professional looking site will require at least a simple understanding of how HTML functions.

Downloadable web design software can be found at download.cnet.com, there is a search dialog box found at the upper right hand corner. Type in “website design” and search. A selection of different programs will be listed ranging from completely free, free trial or to purchase. Each available program will come with a description of how the software functions along with user reviews.

Warning: Do not rely on a providers backup policy such as “We backup all websites every night”. These policies are fine until the web host goes bankrupt. How awful it would be to loose important information every year because of reliance on these statements – back up your own site to protect all your hard work and important information.

Virb has made a website builder specially for students. It is user friendly, clean and professional: students.virb.com