web tips for artists

10 years online isn't worth much, but I have found a few useful tips during that time.

  1. Stay away from Flash portfolios (i know... they're so cool, my V.2 was entirely flash) - flash is a deterrent to some users - they bale out as the progress bar crawls.

  2. Try a background image: You can see a background image used here my blog. it's only around 20 px wide, but is 2000 px or more high, this is then set to repeat horizontally and create the argyle pattern fade.

  3. If you need to break the grid, try floating transparent PNG images via CSS placement (breaking borders) - The distorted image above is a PNG with a transparent background. It can float seamlessly over other images or tables to break the edges. The fine line around is a blogger template issue, but with a bit of code, i could remove it, too. Check out Air Pulp Cutie's position as you shrink the width of the page - she will overlay the screen shot if you shrink it small enough.

  4. If something looks to be navigation, be sure it functions as navigation.

  5. DO AWAY WITH IMAGE-BASED NAVIGATION - Make live HTML type - Aids with accessibility and special needs visitors.

  6. Use descriptive text within the "title" tag on your images and navigation thumbnails (on mouse over, the descriptive text shows below the pointer) - Google likes this, and will raise your rating. Mouse over the image above and see what I mean.

  7. If your download speed suffers a bit - either the images are too large (in Kb), or the server is too slow.

  8. You need COPY within the image display regions. Web searches cannot make sense of images alone. You need to place some body text within the pages - like a brief about the job, sizes, challenges, client results... anything to aid in search engines returning your site as a viable option.

  9. News regions should be current. An issue with painters and illustrators is a desire to be hands off. The web is about fresh and recent information. The more you update, the higher your results will be within a web search. Even if it's the occasional quip or art tip - three sentences... you have to commit to your public face on the web.

  10. Keep painting and adding to your site. This may mean flipping images and weeding out the old stuff, but do it. Fresh and new... like bread from the oven. Keep folks looking to return to your site. - Yeah, I know - Practice what you preach! I'm in the midst of a full redesign of zillustration.com

  11. Don't shy from letting your friends and fans know when you've made a major update or change to your site. This provides feedback and possibly viral exposure from folks that want to share your talent with their friends. The occasional email does good.

  12. If you don't want to mess with a site, start a simple blog, like this one! Blogger, Word Press, etc... - They offer many options to display your work with minimal effort or cost. I use the blog for my current thoughts, commentary and process entries, but a site as a standard portfolio.

  13. I house all images on my own server space, and import them into the blog - partly for my copyright paranoia... if Google houses it, I'm concerned they may be able to source it in the future from some database. Secondly, to keep track of numbers. If you view the source code on this page, you can see where I house them in a "blogger" folder. This way, I'm able to track visitor numbers in addition to my Google web stats. There are very few concrete numbers on the web, including Google's stats. I use multiple metrics to monitor my sites.

  14. Create and be sure to UPDATE an XML sitemap on the top level of your website. This is a valuable tool for the spyderbots that are roaming the web and sniffing your site for new content. If you have an updated page that you think they should know about, place the "lastmod" tag on that particular page entry with the date you pushed the new content to the live site. here is a place for you to generate your own, with minimal effort

I hope this is useful, but if you have more tips, let me know and I'll add to the list.


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