In this day and age, it's ever more important to have a sophisticated web presence, which represents you and your work. A website is like a business card. It lets people know who you are and what you are all about.
If you get a battered, kinda odd looking business card, the chances of doing business with that individual or company are quite low. On the other hand, if you get a fancy looking, gold imprinted clean card, the first association will be much different. The quality and price are assumed to be much different. It is the same for the website.
Let's dive a bit into the topic of why a website is important and how you can get started to, creating your great looking website.
Why is a website important?
In short, on your website you have one place, where you can display everything you want. It can be your hub, where you link to all you social media, have your contact information and your work.
A big plus of having a website compared to let's say a Behance portfolio is, you have complete control over it.
Social Media channels are great. Probably most of you have an Instagram account, Pinterest or a YouTube channel. The difference between those platforms and your own website is, that you own the website. Any of the other platforms could shut down their business and all your content is gone with it. The likelihood of YouTube or Instagram diapering in the near future are slim, though its something to keep in mind.
Remember Myspace, what if you had based your whole brand and content on that platform?
You also have total design freedom over your website. That freedom my vary based on the system you use for creating your site though. More on that later on.
Your personal website is also the perfect spot to display and show off your work. Depending on the content, you plan to publish on the site, you can generate some traffic and increase the awareness of your brand.
I won't go into detail about content marketing in this article, because it's a huge topic by itself. For now, we stick to the basic and take a look at what you need for your basic website to start with.
What are the essentials you must have on your website?
When you first start with your own website, it's wise to keep things as simple as possible. So, what pages do you need on your website?
First you want a page where you can display your work. A portfolio site, where you can add new work. Then depending on your work or your project, you want to have a single page for each project. There are content management systems like WordPress or web flow, where you can create those pages with ease.
Beside your work, you need an "about you" page and a page where you can get contacted. Besides that, you need some legal pages like a data protection and an imprint. What type of legal pages you need depends on your location and what you want to do on your website. So make sure to properly research which legal pages you need, before publishing your site.
That's about it, what you need for your basic website. Here is quick list:
- Legal pages
There are obviously some more advanced features you can add to your site. The most intersing feature for an aspiring artist is a shop, where you can sell your work. There are several solutions like woocommerce for WordPress, Shopify or Webflow.
Personally I use Webflow for my site, because it gives me the greatest design freedom.
What is the best program to create a website?
Over 30% of all websites one the internet are created with WordPress. That's an insane amount and shows how relevant, reliable and good WordPress is. 14,7% of the Top 100 Websites in the world use WordPress. WordPress is a great tool for creating your personal artist website.
With WordPress, you get a solid platform to publish content and easily integrate functionally to your website with plugins. Its relatively easy to set up and there are a lot of hosting companies, which offer a one click installation.
The danger with WordPress is to go overboard with the plugins and really slow down your website, if you don't know what you are doing. Also, you can run in some design limitation, because WordPress works with premade themes. The themes are somewhat fixed in their layout and some changes can only be made with coding.
There are free themes and premium once. Its usually a good idea to pay a couple of bucks for a good premum theme. For about 50 $ and 10 $ month for hosting, you can get started with WordPress. Themeforest is a great way to look for some nice designs. Best practice is to filter by most sold themes, so you can be sure that the theme is fast and bug free.
After working several years with WordPress, Webflow is now my favorite solution for most web projects. Especially for personal websites, it is the perfect tool. You can imagine Webflow like a Photoshop for websites. You have complete design freedom, but the program can be quite complex and it gets time to get used to.
Once you do know how it works, you'll love it. For Webflow there are great free and premium templates and I highly recommend you check them out here. The hosting for Webflow starts at $20 per month if you want to have a portfolio and $42 with a shop.
Squarespace or other pagebuilder, wix, jimdo
To be honest, I am not a big fan of the out of the box page builders like squarespace, wix, jimdoo and alike. From my perspective there are quite stiff and unflexible in the design and you are bound to a single company or platform. If Squarespace goes offline, you can't take your site anywhere. You don't own the server and are very limited and vulnerable to some degree. That can happen with Webflow too, but you have more advantages than with Squarespace.
These page builders have their upsides and for absolute beginners they can be quite handy. In the end it's also a personal choice of what you can work best with. I recommend you make up your own mind by researching more about different pagebuilders or trying them for yourself.
My recommendation for you, if you want to create a personal website is Webflow. Webflow might get some time to get used to, but once you do, it really is the perfect tool for designing your unique website. Also, the content management system in Webflow is great and you can easily integrate a Webshop.
If you like to know more about the different programs or have any questions, just let me know here.