With online art sales over $12 billion, now is the time to jump in and sell your art online. When you look at websites for artists, particularly artists who are successful at selling online, their websites all share some important features. In this article, we will look at the top 20 must-have features for artist websites.

1. A custom domain name

Your domain name is your identity online. You don’t want to make a bad first impression on your customers by choosing a free domain name such as www.joebloggsart.wordpress.com. A proper domain name creates the right image. It can differentiate you from other artists, helping you create a professional image.

When you choose your domain name, first think about what your potential customers might search for in Google. Your domain name could include your name and  “art” or “photography” appended to the end if you want. But the best domains are unique. They are more than a name.

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The ideal domain should include some elements and exclude others:

  • Your domain should be unique. A unique domain name is also memorable. Having a unique domain name for your website is critical because it helps people remember.
  • Exclude dashes and numbers. A domain name with numbers or dashes can be confusing. Avoid them.
  • Keep it short. A shorter domain name is easier to remember.
  • Avoid domain names that are difficult to spell.

2. Custom built website

More and more web platforms, such as WordPress, are releasing themes that claim to be optimized for selling artwork. But if your artwork is unique, shouldn’t your website be too? Your website is your storefront and should reflect you and your work. Often this is only truly achievable through a custom-built website.

There are many benefits of building an artist’s website on WordPress:

  • WordPress is the best option to sell your art because it is a robust and reliable website platform.
  • Your website will adjust to any screen size.
  • It is a complex content management system, but it is surprisingly easy to use.
  • WordPress will scale to keep up with your business.
  • SEO is easy with WordPress.
  • If you want a website that is easy to use, you’ll love WordPress. You can focus on your art because you don’t have to spend countless hours managing your website.
  • You can create XML sitemaps with a click of a button.
  • WordPress is constantly updated. Regular updates help your website run without a glitch.
  • You can download WordPress themes to customize your art portfolio website.
  •  The WordPress plugins provide flexibility. If you can think of a website feature, there is a plug-in for it.
  • There is an active open-source community behind WordPress. Thousands of people work together to improve the platform, free of charge.

3. Beautiful design

As an artist, your appreciation, and your customers’ appreciation of aesthetics should be satisfied with a beautiful design. However, most artist website designs use a minimalist look for ease of navigation. This also ensures that your website doesn’t overshadow your artwork.

Here are the elements of a great looking website for artists:

  • Simplicity – A simple design doesn’t take away from your artwork.
  • Ease of use – Visitors should quickly find what they are looking for.
  • Responsive – You need a responsive website to make sure it responds to any screen size. A responsible site guarantees that people, using mobile devices, can access your site.
  • Call to action – Tell visitors what you want them to do. Do you want to sell your art? Tell people how they can buy your art.

4. A simple checkout process

A simple checkout process is critical if you want to sell art on your website. Once a person is ready to buy your art, a simple checkout is critical. A simple checkout process, ideally on a single page, is the best option. Simplifying the process is the best way to ensure your customers don’t abandon the contents of their cart.

5. A customer area

A customer area that allows your customers to save their important data, such as their billing and shipping address, can speed up their future checkout process when they make a purchase another piece of art in the future.

6. A responsive design

It’s now more likely than ever that your website will be viewed on a tablet or cell phone, rather than a computer. This makes having a responsive design more important than ever. A responsive website looks great regardless of the device used to access it. Make sure you specify to your web designer that you want your design to be responsive.

7. Make it easy for customers to contact you

Adding a live chat function to your website allows your customers to contact you easily. They may have a question about shipping costs, a technical problem, or clarification of the colors in your artwork. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be on call 24/7! When offline, the chat function turns into a contact form.

8. Merchandise Options

The best artist websites offer artwork in more formats rather than the standard original or print. These days consumers want choice including items like cushion covers or pin badges featuring artwork. Think about your audience and the products they may wish to buy and get these listed on your website.

9. Prices

List the price when selling your artwork. Even if you just put down the price for the cheapest option (e.g. small print). If you don’t display a price there is no way for your potential customers to gauge if it is anywhere near their budget. You may even miss out on sales for those too embarrassed to enquire.

10. Sharing

It’s likely that a customer will want to share your artwork before buying. They may want a second opinion from a friend, or permission from a spouse, before committing. Make it easy for them to share your work by including an “email to friend” link, or social media buttons against each listing.

11. Social Media

Speaking of sharing, be sure to link to your social media profiles on your website so your customers can see another side to you. Your website is professional and shows finished pieces but maybe your Instagram shows you in your studio, or a partially finished painting to tease your fans and generate interest.

12. Live previews

There are many clever tools available now. The best artist websites allow your customers to generate a mock-up room with furniture and then insert your artwork. This provides them with an idea of scale and allows them to really picture it in their own home.

13. Framing options

Another clever tool is one that allows your customers to preview a range of frames around your artwork. If your work can be framed this can be a valuable tool that can lead to additional revenue being made through the upselling of frames.

14. Abandoned cart tracking

A customer may get as far as the final stage of checkout and then abandon their cart. There are a number of reasons why this might happen such as realizing how much shipping is or a technical mishap. Ensuring your website has the ability to track abandoned carts can help you improve your site and figure out why you didn’t get the sale. If a customer has already input their email address and then has a technical problem you could drop them a coupon for free shipping as an apology to encourage them to make the purchase.

15. Good photography

This may be a task that happens offline, but it’s essential that you have good photographs of your work on your website. It’s no use if your painting looks amazing in person but washed-out and blurry online. Invest in proper photography to give your artwork the best chance of selling.

16. SSL Certificate

An SSL certificate ensures that purchases made on your website are encrypted. Many internet users now ensure that it’s safe to submit their bank details online. Without an SSL certificate, your website would be flagged as unsafe, putting off customers and potentially tarnishing your reputation if people believe you to be a scammer.

An SSL certificate doesn’t come as standard with a lot of out-of-the-box packages but can be easily purchased and configured by a web design professional.

17. Calls to action

“Call to action” is a common piece of jargon in the digital marketing world. All it means is prompt visitors to your website to take an action. For example, “Sign up to our newsletter now”. By collecting email addresses you can send newsletters and updates when you release new work or have a promotional sale to drive visitors to your site.

18. Have clear policies

Do you ship your work abroad? Do you roll your artwork, or sandwich it between pieces of cardboard? Make it clear to customers what your policies are. A page dedicated to your policies such as shipping, refunds, and accepted payment methods can help manage your customers’ expectations. Ensure that the backend of your website is correctly configured too. If you don’t ship abroad and a customer puts a foreign country in the shipping address, make sure the order can’t go through and a notification explains the reason to the customer.

19. Quick loading time

A large number of high-quality images can be slow to load. In a world in which people have come to expect instant results, this can turn-off potential customers. Ensure that you instruct your web developer to optimize your website for quick loading times.

20. Introduce yourself

OK, maybe it’s a bit ironic that this is at the end of the list, but introducing yourself can make a consumer feel more emotionally invested in your artwork. Maybe you paint a beach they used to visit as a child, or you were born in the same part of the country, or have the same hobbies. A biography can help a customer understand the artwork and feel more connected to you.