By Vicky Blume on February 8th, 2023
Gentle Reminder: Update Your *!%# Website
Tips and Tools | Marketing | Art And Technology | Artist Wellness
In our newest series, “Gentle Reminders,” we provide working artists with essential and convenient reminders for the care and maintenance of a nimble and flourishing creative practice. If your art is a garden, this series is about the continual weeding, watering, and miscellaneous upkeep it requires. Last month, we reminded you to rewrite your artist statement. This month, we’re offering ways to reimagine your relationship to a key component of your online presence: the artist website.
But before we get into it, you should know something about me. When I’m not writing reassuring and thought-provoking articles for Fractured Atlas, I build custom websites for businesses and individuals who inspire me. If you met one of my web design clients they would tell you that I have two big soapboxes that I continually nag them about:
Soapbox #1: Your website can be whatever you want
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!
Soapbox #2: Your website can (and should) grow with you
It’s never finished, because you’re 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 faster than a Dunkin’ Donuts drive thru. Your needs change over time and your website can, too.
Your website can be whatever you want
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. 🙋🏾♀️ 🙋🏻 🙋🏿 🙋🏼
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. With the right structure and platform, updating your website 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 website can (and should) grow with you
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:
🎯 SPOTTING NEEDS
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?
📜 GETTING STARTED
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.
🔆 FORMING A HABIT
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.
About Vicky Blume
Vicky Blume is an arts worker based in New Haven, CT. She currently serves as the 2022 Creative-in-Residence at the New Haven Free Public Library, after moving to the city to study psychology and art at Yale. Prior to joining Fractured Atlas, Blume lit up community engagement for Artspace New Haven and Creative Arts Workshop. She is a fan of open source education and people who use nature-inspired metaphors in professional settings. 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.