If your photo website isn’t performing, it might be possible that you need to make some changes. The problems begin with the fact that most photographers are using the same templates, hosts and same ideas to populate their web sites.
It’s time to consider making changes to your website if you actually hope to make it work for you.
Let’s start with Flash. While this won’t make me any friends at Adobe, Flash websites for photographers aren’t always the best idea. According to Photoshelter’s Feb, 2009 research on what photo buyers are looking for, 77% of the buyers WILL NOT buy from a site that is based on a flash slideshow. 96% get LIVID when they need to watch a website intro before seeing images.
The reasons for these feelings are many, but not the least of which is slow loading times. 50% of buyers will give up and go somewhere else if your site takes more than 10 seconds to load – that’s right – 10 seconds. Quick – go check your Website’s load time and come back. More than 10 seconds isn’t it? By the way this gets worse if it takes 15 seconds 71% of your visitors will leave.
Another problem with Flash websites is that they don’t index well with search engines like Google. If you want people to be able to find you, Flash isn’t your friend.
Photographers should also check their design. Complicated designs that are cute for cute’s sake don’t fare well. Designs that show multiple photos are preferred. Photo buyers and editors are busy. They want lots of choices and they want them right away. After reviewing the images as thumbnails, the buyers want to see larger pictures in the 700 pixel range. While some people think the higher-res image should be as large as possible, the buyers say 700 pixels is just right – this may be because the larger the file, the longer it will take to appear on the screen.
Let’s talk a bit more about design. I’ve been preaching that web sites and blogs should have white backgrounds. The reason is simple – it’s easier to read things on a white background. Black is a good second choice if you’re only going to publish photos – minus text. Textured and patterned backgrounds with colored themes are really disliked. 94% of buyers hate textured backgrounds.
When it comes to functionality – spend less time being cool and more time providing features and helpful information.
Here are some things to avoid if you want to attract buyers and editors:
5. Too Many Slideshows
6. Slideshows as intros
Here are some things to do if you want to attract buyers and editors:
1. Concentrate on speed.
2. Spend your energy on providing content not style.
3. Enable keyword search.
4. Have all your contact info readily available from anywhere on the site.
6. Consistent design and interface with easy navigation.
About pricing – make it easy. Nearly half the buyers interviewed by Photoshelter said they want to get their prices online. But also offer the simplicity of using the phone. Believe it or not, hundreds of thousands of photographs were sold and licensed before e-mail over the old-fashioned telephone. It’s a great backup or second choice after e-mail.
Once you sell an image, make sure that you have the ability to deliver it online. Why is this important? 82% of buyers prefer to download the images they buy online.
Also think about specializing. How would you rate your trust factor when dealing with a person who claimed to be a brain surgeon, an auto mechanic and a master carpenter? Your credibility goes up when you specialize and you also serve your clients better. They don’t have the patience to look at all 23 of your special galleries on subjects ranging from weddings to warthogs. In fact, 67% of buyers say they will only look at six OR FEWER galleries on a website.
Be accessible. 81% of buyers said they would look for photos beyond going to the big three stock agencies. 61% said they’d use a search engine to find new images. 58% said they actively search on photographer’s websites for images. You still may face the need to show an actual physical portfolio – but these statistics show that if you’re accessible and if they can find you, photo buyers and editors will do business with you.
Not everyone will like or agree with the stuff I’ve mentioned here. But to ignore research this detailed and replace it with gut feelings will probably yield poor results.