Eight Reasons Why Your Photography Website Sucks

Eight Reasons Why Your Photography Website Sucks

Your photography website is your storefront. It’s the way your prospective clients meet you, and it’s your chance to make a lasting and convincing first impression. A website is the first step in meeting good clients, getting hired, and getting paid. I’m a wedding photographer, but the list below applies to everyone. Whether you shoot landscapes, weddings, or commercial work, your website is the key to booking business. Here are the top eight reasons why your website sucks.

1. Your Website Uses Flash

The first reason your website sucks is because you’re still using Flash. In number 9 below, you will see why having a mobile-friendly site is so important. If you don’t know, Flash does not load on an iPhone or iPad. Android also stopped supporting it, though you can manually install a Flash player on the OS if you really wanted to. The mobile support for Flash was never there — Apple decided against it from the get-go, and that basically killed any hope that Flash would continue into the future as a viable way to deliver content. Not to mention that it’ll date your website to sometime around 2004, and that’s not a good thing.

2. Your Website Is Not Mobile Friendly

It's more important than ever to have a mobile-friendly site. I used a similar chart below in a previous article, but the large majority of my web traffic stems from mobile users. On some weeks more than 80 percent of my web hits come from mobile users. If your potential clients have to pinch-and-zoom 15 times just to navigate your site, they have probably moved on already.

At this point a number of design platforms integrate mobile and tablet-friendly sites easily without the need to design anything separately. You don’t even have to design a separate site. Check out Squarespace, Prismsites, Smugmug, and Wix just to name a few.

3. Your Website Plays Music

Your website should not play any kind of music. Not since 2002 has that been cool. Here’s the thing though, it’s a decade and a half later. Music really only does two things for your site: it makes it dated and it annoys your visitors. I get it, you want to “set the mood” with some really awesome adult contemporary classics like Michael Bolton’s cover of “When a Man Loves a Woman,” but keep it off of your website. Also, I bet you didn’t even realize that song was a cover. You’re welcome.

4. You Haven’t Updated Your Blog in a Long Time

Blogging puts timeframes on things that do not need timeframes. Be honest with yourself. How often do you blog? Once a week? Or is it more like once or twice every few months. If your last blog post was five months ago, it creates the incorrect assumption that you haven’t worked since then. I did a quick Google search of photographers in my region of the U.S., and recorded the results of 20 of them. I wanted to find out who has a blog and when was the last time a blog was posted. Here’s a chart:

You see the problem? Only three out of the sixteen who had a blog had updated it in the last week. Two had not updated since 2015. Most have not updated in three to nine months. This makes you look like you’re not working, and not in demand. My advice? Ditch the blog all together, and use the various social media outlets to post new work and updates.

5. Your About Me Page Is Way Too Long

“Wow, you went to France? What were you doing there? Oh, you weren’t working? You were just there on vacation. That’s cool I guess. Your dog is kind of cute, but I don’t understand why you didn’t clean the bathroom before you took that selfie. Why are you posting a selfie at all?

I like movies too... Is there anyone who doesn’t like movies? You got to meet J.K. Rowling once? And you took a cruise to Bermuda? You seem to have a nice family though. I see your son had the chickenpox three years ago. That must have been hard. I’m kind of losing interest… Why is this page so long? I have a Honda too, but mine’s blue. I see yours is gray. OK, I’m done with your page now. Sigh.”

Keep it short — a few sentences and a nice photo.

6. Your/You’re Grammar Is Bad and There/Their/They’re Is Nothing Worse

Listen, not everyone was born to write. There’s no shame in having less-than-stellar writing ability. However, that’s not an excuse for your website being full of errors. Before you go live with something, have it proofed. I’m sure you have a friend or family member who can run an extra set of eyes over your page and look for mistakes.

Errors are going to slip by. I had the word “fiance” misspelled as “finance” on my site for nearly three months. It happens. So think hard about what you’re putting out there, and don’t be afraid to have someone else look at it. Also, don’t use weird, teenaged text-speak. “U R” is not an appropriate substitute for “you are,” and emojis have no place on your website.

7. Your Design Is Dated

There are a shocking number of photographers who are using design elements on their site that I haven’t even considered using in the better part of 10 years. Take animated GIFs for example. Where do you even get an animated GIF of a camera flashing? Also, if your website has frames, just delete the page. I haven’t had a site with frames since I was using Microsoft FrontPage to update my online journal when I was 14. 

If you don't know, the Dole campaign website from 1996 is still up and running. You can actually go and see it here.

Can someone please tell me why people are still putting page counters at the bottom of their pages? It’s not impressive that 544 people have come and looked at your work. If you really want to know who is coming to your page, use your site’s internal analytics. You don’t need the odometer from a 94’ Toyota Corolla spinning away at the bottom of your site.

8. No Contact Form Available 

This seems so obvious, yet it eludes so many photographers. It needs to be very easy to contact you. Just have a simple link to a contact form, or to your email directly. Also, use words that make sense for your hyperlinks. Something like contact, connect, or email. You don’t need to turn your contact form into poetry, so stop using words like intertwine, bespeak or “portend.”

In general, just keep it simple. Use a web builder and keep things clean and modern. Make it easy for your potential clients to see your work, to find out who you are, and to reach out for more information. None of us can afford to be losing business because of our website.

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14 Comments

Niels Veeneman's picture

the title was wrong, only one reason why my website is bad and that is updating my blog

Ariel Martini's picture

thanks for the kind words

Jordan Pinder's picture

Great tips and fun to read, thanks Eric!

Brian Pernicone's picture

Fun, quick read, but the takeaway seems to be: Use Squarespace, ditch the blog and you're good. :P

perfect timing! In the middle of updating all my sites and this just reinforces the motivation. Thanks for the spot-on article.

Paulo Macedo's picture

Well, i've opened my website like a week ago and didn't miss any of these points.
Need to keep my blog up-to-date though, lack of ideas on what to write. But i'll manage something :D

Dusty Wooddell's picture

Even if you have a contact form, it's important to have your email on the page somewhere too. Many, myself included, feel that once you submit a form online, it's lost forever

"The first reason your website sucks is because you’re still using Flash. In number 9 below, you will see why having a mobile-friendly site is so important." Am I missing something or there's no number 9 in the article ?

Anonymous's picture

You got the title wrong, it should read, "Eight Reasons Why Other People's Photography Websites Suck". Just kidding, but I was happy to see that my site, while not spectacular by any means, at least meets these 8 things. Great advice for others of course and thanks the article and the funny Dole/Kemp screenshot!

Everyone needs to pay a lot of attention to this article. I hate it when I'm listening to my podcasts, and then I hear some country song I don't care about because I browsed to a website. Then I go to the blog and it hasn't been updated in two years. This is great!

marknie's picture

The bottom line is nobody cares. I have a great website and still no one cares, not a single soul on this website either.

Rob Mynard's picture

The fstoppers web page uses frames...

George Popescu's picture

Basically Fro knows photo did this exact article but in a video form for a couple of months ago!

Several of these tips are valuable but what an astoundingly pretentious and derogatory tone to your writing.How sad.
And not a single mention of SEO.... Or is that no longer relevant?