As I’ve mentioned in previous photography advice articles, your website is often your first point of contact with a potential client. The easy of use of as well as the information provided (or lack thereof) on your website tells your potential clients quite a bit about you and your business and is often an important factor in whether or not they will continue researching your services and make contact with you regarding booking your services.
You’ll notice that many of my examples in this article will be based on brides, grooms and wedding photography. Why? Because I’m a wedding photographer – so that’s what I write about! But whether you photograph children, pets or places, you can extrapolate important information from this article and apply it to your individual situation.
The Stone-Cold Facts about Brides & Grooms Online
- You have, at best, 30 seconds to make an impression before they say ‘meh’ and move on to another photographers website
- If you can’t capture your potential client’s interest in 30 seconds, you may aswell not even have a website
- That 30-seconds include mobile browsing, too. Your mobile site has to be just as easy to navigate as your non-mobile site
Overall Design & Branding
- Your website design should reflect your artistic style. If your images are soft, sweet and vintage inspired you will want to mimic that feeling in your layout and design by using appropriate colours, textures and graphics. You would never have a sleek, modern, black and white website layout and showcase vintage photos – it would look very odd and confuse your potential client.
- Although you’ve spent hours on your website design and know it inside and out, a first-time visitor to your website may not always know what link to click on to find the information they need so keep things easy to read and self-explainatory.
- An example would be the wording and location of the Pricing/Services/Investment tab. First – don’t forget that almost every potential client has a budget to work with and second, they often search for pricing BEFORE thoroughly exploring your portfolio. Make your Pricing link easy to see and don’t hide it in a drop-down menu. While we’re on the topic, don’t go calling your Pricing/Services/Investment link something odd like “Because it’s Worth It”, hell, even the word ‘commissions’ is a little too fancy for your average online bride. Yes, I understand that professional photography is a large monetary investment and you probably want to easy the potential sticker shock by calling it something sweet or non-specific – but if a potential client can’t find prices on your website, they’ll more than likely just move on to the next photographer on the search results! (But more about that in a little bit)
- Watch for social media interaction oversaturation! If you’ve added “like boxes”, “PinIt! tabs”, etc. to your website – always make sure that they are in appropriate locations only. Ideally, it’s your blog articles that you want to be shared via social media – not your home page. Having big, ugly social media sharing buttons right on your homepage is distracting and disrupts the flow of your design. If you insist on having social media icons on your homepage, make custom icons for them so that they match your overall design.
- Make all your links visible from your homepage. I’ve seen many websites where there are only 2 or 3 links on the main page, and then, when you click on those you’re brought other pages that have more links… and then other pages that have more links and eventually, you have no idea where to find any of the information you were looking for! If you’re looking for a sleek and clean appearance to your homepage without a dozen links listed, consider drop down menus – it helps provide a clean appearance while making all your information easily accessible.
- Music. Why are there still photographers out there who play music on their websites? It’s annoying. Oh dear god, how it’s annoying! I don’t care whether or not you think the music will ‘compliment your artistry’ or help ‘set the mood for a portfolio viewing’ – it’s simply annoying and if your work can’t speak for itself then you should probably work on improving your skills instead of being a DJ for your website. Most internet users are either already listening to music or have multiple tabs open and your auto-play tunes won’t be welcomed! (Do you really want your first impression with a potential client to be that of annoyance?)
A bride & groom friendly website should always have the following links visible:
- Many websites have beautiful slideshows or information on their homepage that the client may want to revisit. If you don’t put a ‘home’ link, your client will have to enter your URL and refresh the browser to get back there. So be nice to your potential client, just give them the link to click on!
- Think of your ‘About’ section as your elevator sales pitch. You want it to be quick but incredibly thorough while highlighting your businesses services and mission. It’s all fact, no fluff.
- A good ‘About’ section includes your name (if your company isn’t named after yourself), your services and the location(s) you services within the first two sentences. Readers shouldn’t have to read through 3 paragraphs just to find out what your specialty is. You will want to include a little bit of information about your style and approach to your work but also highlight your most impressive successes. Finally, wrap it up with your companies mission statement; what is it that you can offer them that no one else can?
- Want to write more about yourself, your thoughts and feelings and your free-spirit/creative vibe/hidden genius in a 5-paragraph novella? Get off your pedastal – it’s probably lonely up there anyways. Too harsh? Sorry, but an ‘About’ section is not a diary or personal ad. If you feel like you need several paragraphs to discuss your approach to photography, perhaps you’re better off focusing on improving your photography skills instead of justiying the skills you currently have.
- Offer a concise and condensed gallery of your favourite images for your portfolio. There will be other places that you display photos (like your Facebook page and in blog entires) so don’t put everything in the portfolio galleries.
- Photos should be large enough for potential clients to discern details but faster loading enough to avoid lag
- Don’t set up your gallery as automatic slideshows – always give the client the choice to click through photos. Some people look through photos quickly while others take a lot of time for viewing; it’s not up to you to decide the pace at which someone will view a gallery.
- So you’re not going to put your prices online? Why? Is it because you want to get these people into your studio and give them the ‘high pressure’ sales technique? What do you have to hide that you can’t display your services?
- If you display your prices online, the clients that end up making contact with you are more than likely the ones who will book with you (or at least want to meet with you). By displaying your prices, you’re ensuring that your inbox won’t be cluttered with emails for quotes as clients will be able to know whether or not they can afford you simply by looking at the info on your website. It’s great to correspond with clients, but you also don’t want to devote too much time every day to
- If you want to use a built-in contact form on your website, that’s great – but always remember to put your email address and phone number visible in the form so that clients can email you directly from their personal email if they so wish
- If you fail to put your contact information on your contact form, you’re giving the appearance of being unreachable (which is not good for client relations). You always want to be accessible to your clients, it’s part of providing great customer service.
A photographer’s website is often the first point of contact between them and a potential client. When your website is lacking crucial information, you risk losing potential commissions. Your work may be fantastic, but if your website lacks flow and content you may find yourself with no brides and grooms to shoot!