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.
- Why should you have a Web site?
- Why should you have a unique personal Web site?
- What are your options if you want a Web site?
- What are our goals in building artists' Web sites?
- What are our charges?
- What we'll need from you to begin
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
Do you want your own domain name?
Do you want to try and do your own maintenance?
What features do you want on your Web site?
- Display of information and artwork?
- Sales via e-mail or order form?
- Online shopping cart?
What style would you like your Web site to project?
Contemporary? Traditional? Art Deco? Whimsical?
Elegant? Retro? Rustic?
What are a few sites which you especially like
(or elements of those sites) and why?
What are a few sites which you especially dislike
How many pictures do you want on your site?
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.