13 Tips for Building Your Photography Website

Zenfolio has been powering professional photography websites since 2006 and wants you to benefit from their expertise. Here, they share 13 best practices that will help you create a dynamic photography website.

It All Starts with Your Brand

A brand identifies and distinguishes you and your business from the rest. Branding includes your business name, website address, logo, and any style details such as colors, fonts, writing tone, etc.—and executing these successfully establishes you as a professional.

Must have: Find a website that gives you the option to have your own domain name, logo and as many other of your branding elements as possible.

Your Website’s Look and Feel
Your website should be a beautiful showcase for your photography. The design, colors, typography, layout, and graphical elements should complement your style and photographic specialty. Themes are a great way to coordinate these elements so that they work together for the best presentation.

Must have: Find a website that offers professionally designed presets (a theme and layout) that you can further customize as well as the option to create and customize your own theme.

Homepage: Make a Great First Impression
Your homepage is the first thing visitors will see and is your best opportunity to create a great impression. Visitors will decide within seconds whether they want to stay on your site based on the quality of your work and the design. Be sure to include a tagline to let people know what kind of photography you do. You’ll want to select your best images for your portfolio, and we recommend using a slideshow as well as links to the different sections of your portfolio.

Must have: Find a website that offers professionally designed, customizable homepage layouts that can include full-screen slideshows with music, video, tagline and/or welcome message.

Organizing Photo Galleries
Well-organized photo galleries make it easy for your visitors to find the images they are looking for. It’s also beneficial to have a website that lets you store and sell raw and other non-image files.

Must have: Find a website that has intuitive organizational tools and doesn’t place limits on your uploads, traffic, file type, or organization structure.

Presenting Photo Galleries
Photographers put a lot of effort into getting the perfect shot and spend hours retouching and perfecting their work, therefore the online presentation of that work should look as good as the photos themselves. In today’s digital world, having a mobile-optimized website is more important than ever. It can generate traffic and increase sales, and is great for in-person proofing with clients on tablet devices.

Must have: Find a website that is optimized for mobile browsing and has free iPhone and Android apps for managing your photos on the go.

Your Other Website Pages
Details about your background, awards, pricing and packages, and general information should be easy to find, read, and understand. These pages also provide further opportunity to promote your brand and allow your customers to identify with you more personally. Let people see the face behind the website by showing a photo of yourself, having an informative About page, and a blog.

Must have: Find a website that allows you to create unlimited custom pages and link to them from your Site Menu.

Shopping Cart
Having a seamless, integrated shopping cart on your photography website can mean the difference between browsers and buyers. The second your visitors have an impulse to own an image, a Buy button should be visible. You’ll also need to decide whether you want to fill your own orders via self-fulfillment, have the orders fulfilled by a professional lab or sell digital downloads.

Must have: Find a website that has a seamless way to sell MpixPro products and can process payments via all major credit cards and PayPal.

Marketing Tools
To boost traffic to your website, we recommend using social media. Giving your clients the ability to share photos on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest enables viral promotion of your content. When it comes to increasing sales, marketing tools like visitor sign-in, discounts, product packages, expiring galleries, and email campaigns can turn visitors into loyal customers.

Must have: Find a website with social media integration and the ability to capture visitor’s information (and have this info saved in a contact list).

Protecting Your Work
Putting your photography portfolio online is essential to gaining exposure and customers, but it also comes with certain risks. In order to prevent theft, you need a website that offers password-protected galleries, right-click and drag-and-drop protection, download access control, restricted image size, watermarks, and the option to hide galleries.

Must have: Find a website that lets you upload custom watermarks and gives you control over their positioning and opacity.

Writing Your Website Text
The text on your website is just as influential as the design. Your content should communicate your branding message, speak directly to your target audience, be professional with proper grammar and spelling, and be well crafted with keywords for SEO.

Must have: Find a website that provides intuitive, easy-to-use tools for customizing your content so you can present your text in a clean, compelling design.

Using Video
Including video enriches a client’s experience and is more engaging than showcasing still images alone. Having a website that can display video on any device or browser, with no added cost for the photographer, as well as sell videos will give you a leg up on the competition.

Must have: Find a website that lets you display and sell video on any device or browser.

Search Engine Optimization: How Visitors Find You Online
Using search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most important ways to attract new clients. In order to maximize your SEO, you’ll need to get familiar with the ways search engines find information (keywords and links) and then incorporate these elements in your website.

Must have: Find a website that uses HTML, not Flash, and gives you access to SEO tools to help manage where and how your site is displayed in search results.

You don’t need to be a designer or web developer to create a beautiful website. By following these best practices, you will have a professional website up and running in no time. For a more comprehensive guide on how to create a photography website that works for you, download the free Zenfolio e-book.

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