More About Artist's Web sites

The purpose of this page is to give you more information about why you as an artist would want a Web site, why you would want a unique Web site all your own, and why you might want to have DCTA build the Web site for you. This page is meant to be used in conjunction with the companion page Explanations of Web-Site-Related Terms. Click on any of the list of topics to go to that subject.

  1. Why should you have a Web site?
  2. Why should you have a unique personal Web site?
  3. What are your options if you want a Web site?
  4. What are our goals in building artists' Web sites?
  5. What are our charges?
  6. What we'll need from you to begin

  1. Why should you have a Web site?

    A Web site is an always-available visual representation of the artist's work: a portfolio that's always there and always accessible to everyone. It can be found by people who have never heard of you but are searching for the kind of art that you do, so it can increase your exposure. It can display your work; inform others about you and your career; market and even sell online to others. Finally, "everybody else has one" -- while this is not quite true yet, it is true that today people will ask for your Web site URL as readily as they'll ask for your telephone number. So not having a Web site can lose you potential customers. Back to top.

  2. Why should you have a unique personal Web site?

    The purpose of your Web site is to display your work and represent you as an artist. Anything that distracts from this purpose is not useful and probably distracting. While "community" or collective artists' Web sites can be useful and can point to your unique Web site, if you don't have one then you and your work are simply one of many. Chances are everyone's work and information are displayed in the same format, so the viewer's impression is more of the site as a whole rather than any one artist's work. If you seriously want to use your Web site as a way to reach and expand your audience and potentially your customers, sooner or later you will probably want your own Web site. Back to top.

  3. What are your options if you want a Web site?

    The choices available to artists today are not very good. "Easy to use" build-it-yourself Web site packages designed for personal Web sites are too limited. While there are a number of "artist cooperative" sorts of sites which put up a few pictures and a brief biography in exchange for a monthly or yearly fee, they are a "one size fits all" environment where everybody's page looks pretty much like everybody else's.

    On the other hand, commercial Web site development can be quite expensive, and is often tied to one Web site hosting service. Developers tend to use fairly sophisticated tools, which allow them to produce fancy features and effects, but often result in sites which are slower to load, which behave differently or won't work on older browsers or slow connections. In general, such sites cannot be maintained without the same tool used to build them, which may tie you to the original developer for maintenance. Finally, commercial web site developers have a tendency to build sites which show off their talents and capabilities (and the nifty things their development tools can do), and this can often intrude on the real job of the Web site, which is presenting the artist and her work.

    There is also the option of getting a friend or family member to build your site, or hiring the whiz kid high school student or college freshman from down the block at $10 per hour. Sometimes this works, but the pitfalls are painful. The friend or family member has other things do, often of higher priority. The neighborhood kid may be a whiz at HTML programming or Java, but probably doesn't know much about artists, business, or building a site which can be supported and maintained afterwards, even if he cares.

    In fact, getting an existing Web site maintained by somebody who didn't build it, or who doesn't have the same tools that were used to create it in the first place, can be a significant and costly problem. Often you'll get told that it would be cheaper to just start over using yet another slick tool which the speaker just happens to have.

    Most importantly, you need to be able to trust the person who builds your Web site: that it will look the way you want, do what you want it to do, and that you won't be abandoned by them. You also need to survive the experience financially!
    Back to top.

  4. What are our goals in building artists' Web sites?

    Our fundamental goal is to offer an affordable service for an artist to get an elegant, unique Web site, as simple or elaborate as desired, while leaving her free to choose where the site is to be hosted, who is to maintain it in the future, and so forth.

    A Web site should be elegant and functional. It should be as simple and quick-loading as possible. It should work across the widest possible range of browsers and versions of browsers, and not depend upon fast internet connections. Most importantly, it should be visually unique and a visual representation of who the artist is as an artist, and it should not be about anything but the artist and her work. Finally, it should be maintainable by the artist herself, at least as far as replacing images and updating text, if she wants to do so.

    Having said that, just what do we do in order to accomplish it? First of all, we work with the artist to get a feeling for her preferences and style, in addition to what she wants the site to look like in terms of presentation, structure and content. We build the Web site without using a Web site generation program like FrontPage or ColdFusion. This allows us greater flexibility in designing web pages which look well on a variety of browsers and screen resolutions. It also means that the HTML (the "language" in which a Web site is written) can be more easily read, understood, and modified.

    Insofar as possible, we also avoid features and capabilities which are only supported by more recent versions of browsers, or not implemented the same way by different browsers. Not everybody who is likely to look at your Web site uses the same browser, or has the most recent version of it. We try to avoid features which require specialized scripts or programs which run on the web server if possible, as these tend to make the site more complex and to slow it down. So we will avoid Java, Javascript, DirectX, Active Server Pages, and even CGI scripts if we can, as most of these require the web hosting service to provide some extra functionality. Sometimes we can't completely avoid such things (as an example, if you want a viewer to be able to fill out an online form and send it to you with a submit button, this requires a script on the web server to complete) but we won't make it a part of every interaction with the Web site.

    We strongly lean towards the use of small images of artwork (generally called "thumbnails") which, when clicked upon, result in a larger image, perhaps with associated information, because it means the initial page (with thumbnails on it) will load quickly. If somebody then clicks on one of them to load a larger image, they know that it is larger and will take a while to load.
    Back to top.

  5. What are our charges?

    It's impossible to give you exact charges without knowing what you want, but our rates are competitive for our area and we understand the financial issues that many artists face. We are willing to work with you, and will consider a variety of payment options.

    Once we get a query from you, we'll start with an initial conversation, and afterwards we will ask you to provide enough information for us to get an idea of how complex a Web site, how many images, and what features you want. At that point we can give you a few alternatives.

    Generally we will give you a choice of a flat fee, a best-guess estimate with 15% plus or minus, or we'll offer an hourly rate, depending on how much things are likely to mutate as we work on the site. We will help you arrange for a Web site host, offer suggestions for the design, and do "fine tuning" and correction once it is available, covered in the initial estimate or fee. If you wish us to continue maintaining your Web site once it is operational, again we will give you a choice of a flat monthly fee, a per hour rate, or rate per change.

    Our goal is to get you the Web site you want, which accurately reflects and shows you and your work. quickly and honestly and at a fair price for you and for us. Back to top.

  6. What we'll need from you to begin

    You probably don't have answers to all of these questions, or the terms may be strange to you. The companion page, Explanations of Web-Site-Related Terms, may help to explain these, and we'll be happy to review anything with you that is still unclear.

    1. Where will the Web site be hosted?
      • Your existing internet service provider
      • A free service (which may put ads on your site, or require some form of quid quo pro for hosting your site "for free")
      • A commercial Web site hosting service
    2. Do you want your own domain name?
    3. Do you want to try and do your own maintenance?
    4. What features do you want on your Web site?
      • Display of information and artwork?
      • Sales via e-mail or order form?
      • Online shopping cart?
    5. What style would you like your Web site to project? Contemporary? Traditional? Art Deco? Whimsical? Elegant? Retro? Rustic?
    6. What are a few sites which you especially like (or elements of those sites) and why?
    7. What are a few sites which you especially dislike and why?
    8. How many pictures do you want on your site?
    9. A rough idea of the organization and layout (or we can work this up with you, or go from an existing site whose organization and layout you particularly like)

    When we begin, you can speed up (and cut the cost of) the process by providing digital images of the artwork to be displayed on the site. We will also need any photos of you, articles, and text for things like a artist's biography, links you might want, and so forth. Back to top.
For more information, please refer to How to Contact Us or e-mail