Last modified: December 29, 2016
Your photography website is like an art gallery.
You want to emphasize your work and give your visitors the freedom to admire it, analyze it, and convince themselves that they want to take your work home with them.
At the end of the visit, when they want to reach out or directly book your services, you are there to help.
So think of it as a point of contact with first-time visitors, loyal fans, previous and soon-to-be customers. You want to prep and expose a little bit for everyone.
By building an amazing online presence, you are offering your visitors a flawless experience.
And that’s the best way to connect.
Below, I’ve compiled a thorough list of photography website tips with all the right ingredients that make your website truly successful. From what and how you communicate to how you design this communication channel, there’s a little bit of everything you need.
Statistics show that visitors will only take a few seconds to decide whether to stay on a website or leave it. It can’t be the content that turns them on or off so rapidly. Most of the time, it’s the design and the overall feel. Building a website with a design of impact is, therefore, essential for the success of an online business, especially when it comes to photography.
Those people expect you to make them look at their best. If they don’t feel you’re doing the same with your website, they won’t stick around long enough for you to prove otherwise. Here are the 4 essentials of a great photography website design that can help you out:
- Customize your theme
The best way to make a memorable first impression is through a creative, bespoke theme. When you personalize your website theme the right way, you will stand out from the flood of amateur websites and show your true potential. That’s why you should:
- Build your website presence with your target audience in mind, speaking their language and catering your messages to their needs.
- Even if you opt for a predefined theme, ask for the help of a professional designer, to tweak it a little bit, or tweak it yourself as best as you can; you don’t want your visitors to get the impression that they’ve seen this before and that there’s nothing truly special about your website.
- Never settle for the default options of a theme, but rather roam around, explore and play with different fonts, background colors, and ways to emphasize links or certain areas of the website.
- Make navigation clear
With the back button of the internet browser being the fastest option to find on any website, even the most confused visitors are perfectly capable to go back to where they came from. If they can’t find what they’re looking for or if they have to click too many times before they get there, they will leave. That’s why you should always:
- Have a clear and visible menu, with a maximum of 6 tabs;
- Emphasize the pages that you really want them to visit;
- Maintain a pattern throughout your entire website, so that visitors will always know how to access the main pages;
- Organize your galleries properly and make navigation between images a breeze; if you’re not very experienced with providing simple keyboard controls or left/right arrows for navigation, the least you can do is setting up short themed galleries, easy to look at without making people feel lost through all the photographs;
- Offer a wide range of searching or filtering options to let them easily dig up for what interests them most;
- Display clear messages that name a specific action, to encourage them to do the things that you really need them to do, such as: “Have a look at my portfolio”, “Check this month’s offerings”, “Surf the blog”, or even “Schedule a meeting” or “Book a session”.
- Make it fit all devices
With so many users relying on different devices to access your website, not having a responsive design is like suicide. Even Google finds mobile-friendliness an essential ranking factor, which is why you should always strive to:
- Make all your website content adjust to the screen size of the device used to access it;
- Offer high resolution images, the best quality possible for your photographs, allowing people with high definition screens to see your work crisp and clear;
- Place links in the right places, well-emphasized and enough dispersed so that users won’t have problems in clicking precisely on the desired links;
- Ask advice from a web designer or a web developer to guide you on choosing the best option between:
- Having a separate mobile website;
- Adjusting your existing website to feature a responsive design.
- Set an eye-catching central element
Every photographer has that one image that lets his fans open-mouthed. It is an image that catches their eye immediately and, moreover, that truly speaks to them, creating a powerful connection. By knowing who your audience is and what their interests are, you can grab their attention right away on your homepage. Make that image the central element of your website and visitors will feel like they’re in the right place the moment they land on your photography website.
So you’ve made them love what they see and they decided to stick around. Great, but now, you have to make them love what they read just as well. For this reason, communication is the next essential thing you really need to set straight on your website. And here are the 4 essentials of a great photography website communication:
- Build a powerful About page
If they like what they see, they will want to contact you, but not before they get to know you better. An About page is a must-have for any photography website and, as much as it might surprise you, it does not have to focus on you, the photographer!
The best pages rather focus on their clients, because the people who read it don’t just want to know where you studied… They’re rather after finding what qualifies you to offer them the best services. They’re not really that interested in knowing where your passion stems from, but rather in seeing that you are truly passionate about your work.
Whatever you’re sharing with them on this page, it should start with their main benefit and only then introduce those personal details that showcase how and why you’re going to provide precisely that benefit.
- Focus on your contact details
Since no one falls in love with a website and decides to hire the person behind it in an instant, eventually, your potential customers will want to contact you. Better make it easier for them by providing visible and simple contact means throughout your entire website:
- Create an individual contact page that can be accessed from the main menu;
- Feel free to include the basic contact details even in the footer of every page;
- Provide different contact means: a built-in form from your theme, an email address, a phone number, a physical address or even your Skype details and whatever else you are using;
- Whenever you ask for their personal details, make sure you ask them to fill in the minimum of necessary information – the less they have to work to reach you, the happier they will do it.
- Provide value with an irresistible newsletter
Sending effective newsletters is somewhere at the border of marketing and communication: it implies delivering powerful messages that also bring value to your customers. Consequently, developing a newsletter strategy will take more work than posting on a social network and growing your number of fans. Nevertheless, this smaller audience who receives your emails is much loyal and definitely more directly interested in your services. With all these in mind, use your newsletters to:
- Share the latest blog posts and announce the value they will get from reading those articles;
- Introduce them to your world, by detailing behind-the-scenes of particular shooting sessions;
- Promote your newest discounts, offers, and promotions, to make sure that your loyal followers will be the first ones to take advantage of them.
- Give your blog the importance it deserves
Actively investing time into your blogging strategy is not just a great communication channel, but also a smart SEO strategy. Use your blog for showcasing your best work, promoting your services and, why not, allowing them to know you better on a more personal level.
Since many photographers struggle with this, I’ve approached the topic separately, by putting together a detailed article on blogging ideas for photographers, available here.
Getting the right mix between how your website looks and feels and what messages it sends is not just a matter of luck or inspiration. Most often, it’s quite an impressive workload that relies on some solid marketing techniques, like the ones I’m outlining below:
- Plan, configure and implement with analytics in mind
Google Analytics is one of the best monitoring and tracking tools that Google can offer you. Grasping its basics might seem intimidating, but if you don’t take the plunge to explore it by yourself, you could and actually should ask the help of a professional. In this way, you will be able to measure and know exactly what to improve, by:
- Identifying the pages that generate most traffic on your website;
- Looking into the bounce rates, the percentage of people who leave a particular page the moment they access it;
- Spotting the traffic spikes, get a better sense of what caused them and how you can replicate that result soon enough;
- Identifying the strong and the weak points of your website, what drives people in and what sends them away.
- Optimize every piece of content for search engines
This optimization is serious and depending on how you’re doing it, Google will decide whether to direct visitors towards your website or not. While we’ve already looked at the basics of what you can achieve on this chapter with your Squarespace photography website, here are a few general lines to keep in mind:
- Take some time for a SEO research to make sure you are not just doing the right things, but also you’re doing it for the right keywords, without risking any kind of penalties from Google.
- Begin with a few updates of your website:
- Make sure you use the keywords throughout the entire website, especially on the page titles;
- Do your best to place those keywords at the beginning of titles, lines, or paragraphs;
- Try to keep the keywords’ frequency between 1% and 2%;
- When the content allows it, use synonyms or other words that are semantically related to those keywords, to create a context that reflects your website topic or page subject even better;
- Do not forget to fill in all the details of every photo that you post – title, description, caption, alt text – also with keywords included..
- And don’t forget the off-site optimization:
- Create backlinks from your site to community profiles and social media channels;
- Post comments on other relevant blogs with a link back to your website in it;
- Guest post articles, with your bio included, on other people’s blogs, to catch the interest of their audience and drive more traffic to your website.
- Connect it with all your social networks
Many of your potential clients are active on social networks. Making yourself seen in the very same environments, where they have the chance to interact with you and even become ambassadors of your brand, is really important. That’s why you should make it easy for them to share your work or interact with you on their preferred channels:
- Make your profile links visible, to point them towards your photography social network accounts;
- Offer them sharing buttons for the most important social networks, with all your posts or photographs;
- Encourage them to interact with you socially everywhere you have the chance.
- Place visible CTAs
Without making them too flashy or annoying, the right call-to-actions, those explicit messages that name a particular action you would want the reader to take, will help people better orient on your website. Most of the time, it’s easier to tell them precisely what they need to do and thus encourage them to take action.
Whether you use a “book a session” CTA for the people who already know your services or a “browse my portfolio” CTA for the ones who are just getting to know you, use them wisely and you’ll notice the results on your Google Analytics reports, as well as on your booked sessions.
A few words on style and accessibility
Both issues are rather general and they tend to set the tone of how people perceive your website:
- If you have a beautiful design and amazing photographs but people find it difficult to navigate on your website, you’re going to lose them quickly.
- If there is this contrast between your lively photographs and your plain, boring writing, people will feel it’s something weird and they will walk away.
That’s why you should keep everything simple, perhaps with a fresh note, and show off your true personality whenever you can. On top of that, make sure it all runs fast and smooth and always strive for quality.
Do the entire above and success will be just a matter of time.