Websites are a vital tool in your work as an illustrator, allowing you to demonstrate your illustrative style, and paint a more detailed picture of your working practice. Fig Taylor shares her 10 top tips to make your site as good as possible.
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Given how much harder it is these days to arrange speculative face-to-face meetings with prospective clients, it’s vital that your website makes as professional an impact as possible. Good work alone won’t cut the mustard in a veritable sea of online portfolios; make sure that you maximise the opportunities a website format can offer. While some of these tips may seem pretty obvious, they can make the all important difference.
- Your homepage is your virtual shop window, so make sure it engages your viewer’s attention from the outset. It should say clearly and concisely: this is who I am, this is what I do, and this is how I conduct my business – and this is how to contact me!
- Ensure your website is simple and straightforward to negotiate and that images load quickly. This is particularly pertinent to Flash which, while looking great, can take forever to load.
- Remember your website will be viewed on desktop, laptop and handheld devices. Make sure it’s accessible across the widest possible variety of browsers and platforms.
- Typos, poor grammar, and/or textspeak will make you look careless and unprofessional. Use your spellcheck or co-opt the services of someone who is a better copywriter than you are.
- Thumbnails, where applicable, should give a clear idea of the overall image rather than maddening “teasers” focusing on a small indistinguishable detail. Likewise try to avoid images opening in a new window; that can get old fast if a potential client wants to check out your entire back catalogue.
- Rather than hitting viewers with an avalanche of random images, it’s advisable to break them down into categories such as subject matter, medium or related discipline. If you have complimentary skills, (such as animation, hand lettering, drawing at live events, etc.), include those too. Be aware, however, that UK clients in particular can be put off by a jack-of-all-trades so make sure the skills you incorporate are relevant. In other words if you’re a documentary filmmaker or a landscape architect, it’s probably best to create a separate website for that.
- Clients often like to look at an illustrator’s most recent commissions, so consider incorporating a News or Recent Work section in your menu.
- Consolidate your overall web presence in one place; preferably your home or bio/about page. This means links to your blog(s), online portfolio, Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, Etsy, Folksy, Deviant Art, or anywhere else your work might be found online; likewise link to any bricks and mortar galleries or stores.
- Credit your Alma Mater by all means but try to avoid revealing you’re a recent graduate – even if you are. Some clients have been known to use inexperience as an excuse to take financial advantage. You’re a professional now and deserve to be treated as such.
- If you’re an established illustrator a client list will impress and reassure new potential clients; a page of client testimonials will do so even more.