Creating a Website to Display your Art. By Don Finkeldei. Should you have a Website? What's involved? Can you do it yourself? Can you maintain it without a website designer? Lots of questions are answered in this article.
If you want to promote your art a website is almost mandatory now days. Before you venture into creating a website there's some basic things you need to be fairly familiar with:
- Taking photographs of your artwork with a digital camera and processing them for website presentation. I have several articles on how to do this. Digital Imaging for Artists , Photographing Artwork with a Digital Camera , Manipulating Images in Photoshop
- Know how to store them on your computer for uploading to your website yourself, or sending them to someone who can do it for you.
Then, you need to think about the type of application you use. This is critical because there's two basic types:
- Static: meaning that there is no database and all pages have to be manually created by someone that knows how to write html (a technical person that you send image and text to go along with it). They create the page using html markup and then ftp the html file and related images to the webserver. This can be very expensive and cumbersome in the long run.
- Dynamic: meaning that there is a database and an application for administration. You maintain it by making simple text entries and uploading files easily through an administration interface. You don't need to know all the technical things because the database builds virtual pages for you. You don't need a technical person to maintain it although you'll need someone capable to design and set up the application. Once it's set up and running you can add/edit/modify content very easily. These are called CMS applications (Content Management Systems). There are several very powerful ones like Joomla and Drupal. This site is a Joomla application, which I consider the best.
Aren't there sites that I can join for a monthly fee and immediately start uploading my inventory?
There are several "Art" sites you can join that have basic layout / design templates you can choose from. They host thousands of artists. These are Dynamic sites so they have an administration where you can upload images and text (better than a static site). You get what limited options they have. Most are "SUB" domains that search engines are incapable of indexing efficiently. You'll pay a monthly fee anywhere from $12 to $50 per month above hosting fees. In my opinion these "ready to go" sites are highly restrictive, don't have good Search Engine visibility and are not worth the money.
What's the best application for the least cost?
There are several CMS management systems that are free source. Free source means that the application is free to download and use. They can be installed on your own domain hosted by an ISP that is capable of serving dynamic applications (has applications like php and a mysql database server). Thousands of man ours went into developing these applications. Joomla, http://www.joomla.org is the best CMS system in my opinion. There's also Drupal and WordPress. They are extremely flexible with many add-ons that can be incorporated to do many things. It takes a technical person (like me) to set it up but you can maintain it yourself. Adding/deleting/editing inventory and articles are manageable by non technical people. There are many extensions that can be incorporated into the core application. Extensions like shopping carts, news letters, forums, image galleries, slideshows, server side video players, comments from users, many more options. These applications can handle thousands of items and thousands of articles. It's The Joomla Extensions site is at http://extensions.joomla.org/ .
What about the cost of installing and maintaining a CMS system?
The cost of the core CMS application is free. The extensions are also free. The best ISP for hosting Joomla applications is Hostgator, http://www.hostgator.com/ . The monthly hosting fee is $9.95/month. There is no other charge unless you need a secure server certificate for a shopping cart. As long as you manage the site yourself after the installation there are no ongoing maintenance fees. The design of the website and installation/setup of the core joomla CMS application and creation of the database will cost about $1,400. That includes setting up sections and categories, menu's articles (about, contact, bio, gallery representation, etc).
How do I get started?