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Vicky Blume Post by Vicky Blume

By Vicky Blume on May 21st, 2024

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Gentle Reminder: Update Your *!%# Website

Tips and Tools | Marketing | Art And Technology | Artist Wellness

When I told two of my friends that I was writing an article about artist websites, both of them sighed loudly and hid their faces behind their hands. I want to extend acknowledgement and validation to anyone who has ever felt personally victimized by their artist website, and the never-ending upkeep it requires 🙋🏾‍♀️ 🙋🏻 🙋🏿 🙋🏼

Turns out that a lot of people have an idea of what their website should look like and include, and don’t feel like they’re measuring up. In reality, the purpose of your website is something you can decide for yourself. Take your assumptions about what a website “should” look like and put them on the curb next to the sad, abandoned chair with the ripped open seat cushion and splintering armrests. They’re not serving your best interests anymore!

With the right structure and platform, keeping your website up-to-date could become a source of ease and joy—instead of hand-wringing and doom. Here are some popular priorities that you can choose from and remix to suit your unique needs when you’re gearing up for a website update:

Your Priority: Building an archive. The Manifestation: If you love visiting libraries or museums, consider using a system of tags, dates, and categories to create a DIY library of…you! A Content Management System (CMS) allows artists to create a detailed multimedia archive of artworks, events, and projects. The Platform For You: Wordpress.Your Priority: Cultivating a fan base. The Manifestation: Do you consider yourself a content creator? Your website could be a membership platform. Build an entire world of rich media content for paid subscribers—and use a dashboard to make data-driven decisions for upcoming campaigns. The Platform For You: Ghost.Your Priority: Everything in one place. The Manifestation: This is the most traditional approach to a website. Your site is a one stop shop for fans, application reviewers, strangers, haters, and potential customers to look at your work, hear your story, buy stuff, and connect with you. The Platform For You: Squarespace.Your Priority: Expressing your creativity. The Manifestation: What distinguishes a regular website from a creative, expressive one? It’s all about animations, interactions, and custom design. If those words don’t scare you, look for a platform that can support your wildest internet dreams. The Platform For You: Webflow.Your Priority: Keeping it simple. The Manifestation: If making your website “complete” keeps you from updating it at all, consider treating it like a business card. Stick to the essentials, like a tiny bio, a headshot, and some contact info. Warning: this approach will make you look very busy, booked, and professional. Could attract haters! The Platform For You: Carrd.Your Priority: Designing on the go. The Manifestation: Imagine updating your website, straight from your phone. Mobile web design apps are a relatively new creation that are breaking down barriers in the industry. Could they break down some practical barriers in your own life? The Platform For You: Universe.Your Priority: Letting your portfolio shine. The Manifestation: A website is a rare opportunity to present your work exactly as you like and intend. Artists are often asked to present work under constraints (e.g. cropped photos, trimmed videos, dialogue excerpts, etc.), so portfolio-first websites can feel like a breath of fresh air. The Platform For You: Cargo Collective.

Your Priority: Wayfinding resource. The Manifestation: Sometimes all we want our website to do is direct people to other websites. A “link in bio” approach provides a convenient list of buttons that transport visitors directly to your intended destinations. They can buy tickets, read a recent write-up, or get Google Map directions to your studio. It’s a bit edgy as a stand-alone website, but hey—so are you. The Platform For You: Linktree.


Your website can (and should) grow with you

It’s never finished, because you and your work is always evolving. Your writing voice could be becoming more confident, or your bio is beginning to feel too narrow for your e x p a n d i n g interests. Maybe you’re finally working with video and need a website that loads as fast as a Dunkin’ Donuts drive thru. Your needs change over time and your website can, too.

But how do I make a habit of updating it, and how do I know what needs updating? Where do I begin? I don’t have the perfect answers to these valid questions, but I can share some strategies I use in my own life to identify what my website needs, get started on updating it, and practice the imperfect ritual of regularly updating it:

The world is basically just a big, chunky soup of needs and problems. Before I update my website, I usually sit down and list what I need my website to do or communicate, and any recent breakdowns in user experience. Did my mom just tell me that my website galleries are “so slow to load” and “very confusing?” Maybe. Whatever. But in all seriousness, we love users who provide ~candid~ feedback! Do you have a trusted critic who can jump in and help?

Step one, close your laptop. Starting with a pen and paper can loosen you up creatively. For me, the process usually yields a table-full of scribbled pages. If you are an artist, you know the value of scribble pages. Usually, I start by listing my core interests, biggest projects, and recent write-ups. Then, I use horizontal and vertical pages to sketch the desktop and mobile view, respectively. A loose structure equals more freedom in the long run.

Is easier said than done, but automation can help. If I’m intent on breaking the habit of avoiding my own artist website, I set it as my browser home page (gasp), so that it haunts me every time I open a new tab. Similarly, creating a repeating calendar invite can remind you to update your website on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis.

But above all else, do what works for you!
And don’t be afraid to share your struggles with fellow creatives—you might find your next accountabilibuddy along the way.

More posts by Vicky Blume

About Vicky Blume

Vicky Blume is an arts worker based in New Haven, Connecticut. After moving to the city to study art and psychology at Yale, Blume lit up communications for a contemporary art gallery and a community art school. Most recently, she served as Creative-in-Residence at the New Haven Free Public Library's Tinker Lab. In her artistic practice, Blume builds interactive websites, animations, and installations that offer calming and consensual alternatives to the Attention Economy. At home, she is passionate about her houseplants but struggles to care for more sensitive plants. She aspires to create a home environment where every houseplant can thrive.