Headline: 5 Common Website Mistakes to Avoid
Websites are undeniably the most important sales and marketing tool for today's professional photographer. They display your work, provide information, sell your products, and ensure that you can be easily contacted. However, with the average amount of time someone stays on a web page being less than a minute, you need to make a positive impression fast. Whether you are creating your first website or you are reworking one you've had for a while, you'll want to avoid these common pitfalls.
1. Your website is overwhelming or downright annoying
There is something to be said for keeping it simple. Hitting your clients with music, animated backgrounds, and a slideshow all at once on your homepage might be too much. Many people conduct their searches from an office environment and will close out of a site in a panic when music unexpectedly shoots out of their computer speakers. Choose carefully when considering whether you want music playing when your website first loads. A great place for music is in personalized slideshows for your clients where it will enhance the emotional appeal of your images.
On the same note, if your background is competing with your photography or potentially causing seizure activity, tone it down. There are many great features you can include in your website, but spread them out and use them to enhance your work not distract from it.
2. Your contact information is missing or buried
One of the fastest ways to lose business (and therefore lose money) is to make clients search your site for a way to reach you. Contact information should be in a highly visible place, like in the header or footer of your site, in a text that’s large enough to read easily. A contact page/form is another great way to make sure that potential and current clients can get in touch with you with the click of a button. Accurate and accessible contact information gives people confidence that you are a credible business.
3. You are displaying images that aren't professional
There is no excuse for blurry, underexposed, or "snapshot" work on a professional photographer's website. Even if you are just starting out, aim for quality not quantity. And, if all the photos are of your own kids (or your pet), you need to get out there and shoot some more. If you’re in search of models, post to social media or sites such as Craigslist for students or models who are starting out and want to build their portfolio. You won’t have to spend money, and you’ll both get more experience and work samples.
4. Your site is outdated and has dead links
Do you have information on your site that promotes a sale you had four months ago? Is your price list from 2012? Do you have links that no longer work? Websites require occasional maintenance. Old information makes it look like you went out of business, and not making updates hurts your ranking on search engines (Google loves new content). Dead links are unprofessional at best. Sites like http://www.brokenlinkcheck.com make it easy to check your entire site for links to nowhere. Make it a priority to keep your site up to date and functional.
5. You have too much text
TL;DR means "too long; didn't read." No one wants to read through a full page of text to find what you could have told them in a few sentences. If you need to decrease your font size to 3pt to fit in everything on a page, you have too much text.
So don't have a website that drives clients away. Avoiding these mistakes will ensure that your website works for you, not against you.
Cheryl Steinhoff is a Customer Support Manager for Zenfolio. She has also worked for 10+ years as a professional portrait photographer, splitting her time between North Carolina and Massachusetts. Her two amazing sons bring the greatest joy to her life.