It’s time to spring-clean your photography website! Don’t leave it until you've finally shot that new body of work you’ve been meaning to shoot. There are several things you can do to your website to freshen it up without shooting new images first.
If you’re a photographer, I am assuming you have a website. But if you don’t, read this article and go and buy a domain ASAP. Start collating your best images, and get a portfolio website template from providers such as Squarespace or Wix. A quick word on domains: get your firstnamelastname.com if you can unless you are using a different brand name for your business.
Change the Design and the Layout
I use Squarespace as I find it easy to update and change layouts whenever I feel a refresh is in order. I am happy with my chosen template, but I recently added a logo and changed fonts and colors. I also use Canva to design things like PDF portfolios to send to clients, so I wanted to make sure my fonts and color scheme matched. Another thing I updated was the little browser icon you get in search results. It’s a nice touch and will make my site stand out against competitors.
I hear people love to browse, which might explain why the vertical feed is so common with photography websites. I have had this type of layout for the past couple of years, and I am now experimenting with how many images should be next to each other horizontally.
Whichever layout you go with, remember to test out how it will look on a mobile. A large proportion of my visitors come from mobile phones, so how the landing page looks is very important.
Think about which colors are relevant to your type of photography, and test them out with a draft. Most photographers use a neutral background color and have their images do the talking. Using colors could be a way to stand out, but make sure you stand out in a good way. The use of colors and how they make people feel is highly personal, so anything too out-there might put people off. The same applies to fonts; certain fonts can make your website look more premium and others cheap. Perhaps you should avoid Comic Sans and Papyrus?
Organize Your Content and Site Titles
How many categories do you have? The chances are there are too many. I spoke about photography genres in my previous article here, and you could use this idea to create website categories based on the various aspects of your photography. Just remember: It is easy to create more, but much harder to edit down.
Some photographers could benefit from selling their services instead of concentrating on image galleries, especially if they serve the general public or very small businesses. In this type of website, the site titles will be less about different types of image galleries and more about the service and process for the customer. I have browsed a lot of photographers’ websites, and most seem to do a mix of gallery style and service style.
Go through your selection of images and decide what could be taken out, added or edited, and put back in. Usually, the hard part is editing down rather than up, so you have to be a little brutal here. Once you know which images are the keepers, it’s time to look at their order. Effective strategies are arranging by color or level of darkness: going from light to dark or grouping all the yellows and then all the blues together. The most important thing is to show the very best work first.
It can be difficult to make decisions about image selection completely on your own. Ask your industry friends to have a look. The other, likely more critical, option is to get paid portfolio advice.
Edit Existing Images
Do you have older work that now appears dated but still demonstrates your skills well? You could fix them with some editing. I used to shoot a lot of square images, and now, portrait crops are much more popular. So, an easy fix is to go and re-crop images that feel dated in their aspect ratio. Trends change in terms of composition and colors, so going back to the editing software could make images more relevant again. Some images are just too out of touch, and in this case, you should take them out as they will hurt you more than do good.
Improve Your SEO
I admit I used to upload screenshots to my website without naming my images. Shame on me, and no wonder I wasn’t coming up in search results. You must name your images with keywords in mind. It could be that you will need to re-upload all your images again with new image names, as I did.
I am not an SEO (search engine optimization) expert, but you can update the SEO title of your website and the longer SEO description. Please note that this isn’t an instant process, and it will take Google some time to update how you will show in search results.
Here is a secret that you may have not realized: a lot of photographers have a blog on their website, but it isn’t called a blog. A blog simply is a section on your website where you publish posts with text and images. Alternative names for a blog could be “News,” “Case Studies,” or “Recent Work.” Whichever approach you go for, a blog is a great way to add keywords to your website for SEO purposes.
You should aim to add text to several places on your website. I used to love having a traditional-style gallery website, and essentially, I still do. I added text to several pages, including the “About Me” page and the landing page as well as blog posts. Make sure in your text there are clickable call to action prompts such as “Contact Me” or “View Testimonials.” Adding text to your website will not only help your audience find you, but it will help them to get to know you better too.
Here Is a Checklist for a Refreshed Portfolio Website:
Can you curate your images in a better layout and reorganize your images?
- Do you have too many image categories?
- Should you have a service-type website instead of a gallery website?
- Can you improve your SEO?
- Do you have a blog yet? If yes, it might be time to write a new post.
- Are your social icons up to date?
- Can you improve the design?
- Do you have “call-to-action”- buttons?
- Do your images load up quickly?
- Test out your new site on mobile.