Photographers may make mistakes when they take a picture, but those mistakes are obvious to them. However, they often don’t realize what mistakes they’re making when building a website. A common mistake for photographers is thinking that putting their best photos online is good enough to build their brand and attract new customers. They don’t understand how little issues can end up making their pictures or the site itself seem less than ideal. In this article, we’re going to show you seven common mistakes photographers make with their website and how you can fix them.
Putting Design before Purpose
Too many photographers think that putting beautiful photos on their website is sufficient to sell their services or their images, or they focus on things like aesthetically pleasing fonts and borders. In many cases, they forget to consider what the customers are looking for. They don’t make it clear how a customer would book an appointment or buy prints. Don’t forget the purpose of the website and how your page will convert visitors to customers.
In other cases, they ignore the visitor experience altogether. If the beautiful images take so long to load that someone who found you in a web search becomes impatient, they’ll bounce away. If they can’t find information like where you’re located or how to contact you, they’ll likewise abandon the site.
There are a few simple steps to avoiding this mistake. Make sure that your site’s navigation is obvious and intuitive, and verify that the menu is easy to navigate on any device. Strip down the options and make it easy for your audience to reach any pages on the site in a few clicks by using relatively uncluttered pages as landing pages that give people the information that they probably want, such as your contact information and location (though you can have links to your image showcases). Don’t make people scroll down to the footer to see critical information. And minimize the sidebars, especially if you already have a menu across the top of the page.
Overlooking the Importance of Webpage Performance
We’ve already mentioned how slow load times will cause many potential clients to abandon your page. You only have a few seconds to present your best work and the information that browsers want before they get impatient. That’s why you want minimalist landing pages. Another issue is performance of the website across many different devices. If your webpage loads slowly on a cell phone, those prospects probably won’t come back, but if the page loads with unusable menu buttons, they’ll take a dislike to your site and never return. Search engines use load times as a factor in your site’s rankings, and unhappy visitors bouncing away in a few seconds will further lower your search engine results page ranking.
There are tools that let you measure your website’s performance. Use those instead of simply eyeballing to get an honest assessment of your site’s performance. Don’t forget to check the mobile responsiveness of the site as well, making certain the site responds as well on tablets and smartphones as the average PC. Then you can work on improving the responsiveness and general accessibility of the site.
Another solution is to use a platform that will allow you to create websites for photographers on your own. A common solution these services provide is making sure the files are compressed in a way that minimizes load time without sacrificing quality. They’ll also make sure you’re using commonly accessible file types and presenting images in dimensions that scale well to fit any screen. A good website creator will allow you to create a professional looking site in minutes and choose from tons of different templates depending on your personality and needs.
Ignoring Location Information
You may have beautiful landscape photos from around the world or covered major events in a specific area, but your customers won’t know where you’re located unless you clearly communicate that to them. This truly matters, since most customers only want to hire a good photographer in their area. This means you need to put your address on your home page, and ideally, on an “about us” or “contact us” page. This information feeds to search engine maps, helping your business rank higher in local searches.
You can improve your location-based search engine optimization by registering with as many business directories as possible. Make sure the information is correct and consistent across all these sites so that the potential customers who search for you there will always see the right information.
A lot of artists think music creates a specific mood or enhances the visitor’s experience. While many people enjoy music, most of your prospects are not going to share your tastes in music. If your music bothers the customer, they may leave the site. If loading the music files sucks up limited bandwidth, they’ll resent it even more. If the music files error out or seems to glitch because of a bad connection, it undermines your viewer’s opinion of your site even if they like the song. Or they’re listening to something they want to listen to in the background, and your music selection ends up creating a cacophony. The only sure solution is to skip the music altogether.
Not Letting Photos Speak for Themselves
While a picture is considered equal to a thousand words, the reality is that a picture doesn’t talk to the search engine in the way they need to communicate so that your pictures can be found. A good first step is to put relevant titles on every picture that are search engine optimized. Don’t describe the image as “me and a mountain” but as “climber on Mount Shasta in the winter”. It isn’t a picture of a little girl but “little girl at school answering questions on chalkboard”. Now your images will come up in image specific searches, and this can lead people to your website.
Too Many Photos
You’re trying to impress a client with a variety of your best work, not a showcase of all of your work. And honestly, most prospects will not be willing to flip through hundreds of photos.
Select several of your best photos to put on the site that show the variety of services you provide, whether it is event photography, landscape photography or portrait photography. Opt for quality over quantity. By limiting the number of pictures on the site, you’ll improve the load time and performance of the site.
Having a Long Personal Introduction
Some photographers choose to let photos speak for themselves, though you can’t rely entirely on visual content. On the flipside, some people write long-winded personal introductions in an effort to impress potential clients. That, too, is a mistake. Do create a dedicated about page, but don’t make it too long. Go ahead and put your business name, address, phone number and contact form on this page to make sure those who like you can contact you. This is a good place to put social media links on your site as well.
A poorly designed website is almost worse than not having one at all. Avoid these website design mistakes, and your website will become a showcase of your work that results in more leads for your photography business.