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5 Photography Website Mistakes You’re Probably Making

As a photography business owner you know it’s vital to have a strong web presence. Whilst social media is important, your brand online should be anchored by your own website.

You want prospective clients to be able to find and book you, so you select some of your finest images and you craft a visually stunning online portfolio. Awesome, you rock!

But let’s not slap ourselves on the back just yet. There are two important questions you need to ask:

  1. What is the real purpose of my website?
  2. How effective is my website at serving that purpose?

If you think the answer to 1) is “To get yourself online” then (with the greatest of respect) you’re wrong. The real answer is “To generate more leads for your business”. This is an important distinction because it governs every decision you make regarding your site.

The answer to 2) is more straightforward. Imagine you have 10,000 unique visitors a month (quite a lot), but only a handful manage to find your contact information and get in touch. Your website has failed in a big way. With that traffic you should be getting lots of enquiries. Something is wrong!

It’s understandable that many websites feature beautiful visual design but suffer because the designer had no knowledge of the end user’s business goals. FotoJournal’s team has a wide range of experience with business on the web — we want to help!

Here’s our top 5 mistakes we think photography websites make.

Too many images on the homepage

Your homepage will be the most heavily trafficked page on your site. Above all it needs to load fast. If prospective customers are leaving before your site loads then you’ll never convert them to paying clients.

Images are the biggest contributor to page ‘weight’ so you need to compromise. Rather than choosing a diverse range of images for you homepage you’re far better off picking the one or two photos you think will resonate with your audience and providing some concise, thoughtful copy that sells you and your services.

Think about your homepage as the gateway to the rest of your site. If you can make an immediate impression then visitors will naturally want to learn more. That’s when they’ll start browsing your portfolios.

This is a loading time graph of a site with far too many images on its homepage. Would you wait around?

too-many-too-big.png

FotoJournal’s homepage uses a single photo. It’s a heavily compressed JPEG and (depending on the screen size) sometimes interpolated to stretch to a larger screen. Believe us, you can get a lot of impact from one well chosen image.

You should compress your images as much as you possibly can without visibly affecting the quality. You’ll be surprised at how far you can go. Resize your images to the exact required size before uploading. You should be able to get large images between 80–150Kb.

Slow websites are also penalized by search engines. They’re competing to provide the highest quality, most relavent results. If searchers are bouncing off your site back to the search results then the result provided can’t have been very good. If this happens continually your site will get pushed lower in the rankings.

Update: FotoJournal sites use a method of image loading called ‘lazy loading’. A sites may feature plenty of images on its homepage but they do not all load at the same time. Images are loaded ‘on demand’ as a visitor scrolls to see more content.

No calls to action (CTAs)

We keep going on about this but it’s so critical it’s worth mentioning again:

The purpose of your website is NOT to show off how great your work is. It’s to generate leads for your business. Period.

You want people to contact you, right? So give them every opportunity! When you’re building your site you should be thinking:

What can I do to get this person to contact me?”.

That’s your primary objective so make it easy for your visitors. Put links to your contact page at points where you think people might want to make that decision. Perhaps every page should have a big “Make an appointment!” button in the footer? Maybe your main navigation should have a huge “contact me!” button?

Further than CTAs, consider what information you think someone will need to take the decision to contact you. Don’t make them work to find that information. Quality examples of your work is a good start but it isn’t enough. Prospective customers will likely want to know what you’re like to work with. What are your prices? What’s your process before, during and after a shoot? What are your choices for deliverables? Do you have examples? Maybe you could even create a page that answers your top 10 most common client questions.

Splash Pages

A splash page is a introductory page that shows before someone accesses your homepage. Splash pages might look pretty, but pretty doesn’t get you more clients.

Your most heavily trafficked page will be your homepage. It’s your first and sometimes only chance to convert your visitors into paying customers.

Why, then, would you want to insert a splash page before your homepage? You’re asking your visitors to do extra work and inevitably a percentage of potential customers will ‘bounce’ and be lost forever. You need to grab them immediately and make every effort to provide the information they’re looking for.

Missing blog

When was the last time you updated your portfolio? Three months ago? Was that the last time you did a shoot? We hope not! So how do prospective customers know that you’re active, enthusiastic and in demand?

By creating regular, fresh web content.

Your blog doesn’t have to take a huge amount of time. It can be as simple as setting aside twenty minutes when post-processing a shoot to upload a few choice shots, writing a few sentences about the client/goals of the shoot and clicking publish. Your current clients will love a preview of their images and your leads will appreciate seeing some less formal examples of your work. It’s a great opportunity to throw in some personality!

Of course a blog can be used to boost your company’s profile online through content marketing and SEO. We’ve written at length about that so we’ll spare you the details here!

Flash

Flash is dead, especially on mobile. Mobile is 30% of web traffic and increasing. If you’ve a flash-only website (or a Flash splash page) you’re losing 1 in 3 leads.

Not only is mobile compatibility a problem for Flash based websites but search engine optimization is a big deal too. Flash appears as a black box to search engines. They may look nice and be all whizz-bangy, but they aren’t indexable, linkable/sharable and won’t help customers find you.

You don’t want your website to look like this: 

no-flash.png

Almost everything that’s possible with Flash can be done with modern web technologies that do not suffer the same problems.

Conclusion

With a few pointers everyone can have a website that really serves its purpose — Generate leads for your business!

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2 comments

Amanda
This is a great article and I think it tackles a subject most photographers miss. Many photographers put up a website to just show their work and they aren't thinking about the next step for their website visitors (who are potential clients).
Shawna
This information if fabulous. Thank you so much for sharing. I had no idea that it is better to have a regular home page vs a spash page!

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