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Make a Space That Tells Your Story, a Guide to Creating Your Online Portfolio

Where to start planning, how to organize your content and tips on launching your artist website on Squarespace.

(image by Marcus Cederberg)

A good website tells a story, shares a vision, showcases accomplishments, and ultimately serves as a digital hub for your online identity. Instagram and Facebook can be important channels to promote your work but these channels should complement your site, not replace it.

Squarespace, a website building and hosting platform is one of the best options to create an online portfolio without knowing how to code.

If you want to get started building your new site, head over to Squarespace.com for a free trial and use the offer code HYPERALLERGIC to get 10% off.

Below we have collected some tips and recommendations to help you organize the launch of your portfolio website.

Choosing a Domain Name
When you feel ready to set up a website, the first thing you’ll need to do is register a domain name. Many artists use their full name, but others like to get creative with something unexpected and fun. Whichever direction you go, be sure to pick something that is short and easy to write and pronounce. Both humans and search engines should be able to find it. You can head over to Squarespace now to check if your desired domain name is available. Squarespace makes it simple to register your own domain, and even includes the first year for free.

Planning Your Content
Once you’ve reserved your domain name, it’s time to start planning out the content. It’s usually a good idea to think about what you want to include before choosing a template and getting hung up on how it will all look. Squarespace has a lot of different template styles and formats, and planning your content will help you when it’s time to make a selection.

To get started, you do not need to reinvent the wheel. You can always launch your website with a basic structure and add more pages as you go. Most artists include the following sections in their site:

  • Homepage
  • Artist Statement
  • Biography/CV including a list of exhibitions, grants, and awards
  • Selected Works
  • Press
  • Contact

When it comes to your homepage, think about the first impression you want leave on visitors. Do you want this to be an immersive experience with a large image or a more utilitarian view of your portfolio? Squarespace offers options for both approaches and more.

The works you include in your online portfolio should continue the story started on the homepage and relate to your Artist Statement. It’s OK not to include your entire body of work here, but be sure to feature the works that best showcase the story that you want to tell.

As an artist, your site will represent you and your work online, so it’s important to invest some time to create quality images and photographs of your work, and to upload high-resolution files so they look sharp on all screen sizes. Squarespace automatically creates seven versions of each image you upload to make sure they look sharp on any size screen, from mobile phones to high-density displays. It is recommended to use images that are between 1,500 and 2,500 pixels wide or at least 2 times the size you want them to appear.

On the Press page, link to important articles about your work so visitors can read what others are saying about you. Make sure your contact page is easy to find in the header and footer, and let people know how to get in touch with you or find you on social media. This is also a great place to ask them to subscribe to a mailing list for email updates.

You can also set up a news page or a blog on your site, and even host an online store if you want to sell your work directly.

Squarespace templates Forte and Wells

Choosing a template
Squarespace offers artists a variety templates for every taste and genre. It’s important to keep in mind that templates define both the style and functionality of your site, so planning your content in advance and knowing what you want to showcase will help you narrow down your choices. Don’t worry too much about picking the wrong one, you can easily switch to a different one later. You can browse the templates here.

All Squarespace templates are also responsive, which means the site you create on desktop will automatically resize to fit mobile or tablet screens.

Creating and Editing Pages
Since the backend is entirely based on a drag-and-drop system, you can easily build blocks, format text, and crop images without ever leaving the browser.

Creating and updating content for your site can be overwhelming, but don’t worry, your pages don’t have to be permanent. Squarespace allows you to create, edit, and save pages without making them visible to the public. At the click of a button, you can hide or unhide any page without having to delete and recreate them from scratch. You can even set up private pages that are only viewable with a password.

Once you are ready to upload your text and images, Squarespace’s drag and drop interface makes it easy.

Bonus tip, make sure to upload a favicon! Favicons are the small images that show on the minimized tab of your website. Having a personalized favicon, will make your website stand out. Learn more about favicons here.

Testing
It’s important for your site to be easy to navigate, cohesive, and professional. Before you announce your website to the world, be sure to test it and have other people provide honest feedback. Ask a friend to navigate your site looking for specific information to see if they are confused by the layout or flow of information.

Once the site is live, be sure to let everyone know about it and keep it current with regular updates to your portfolio, bio, and press pages.

To get started on your own portfolio site, head over to Squarespace.com for a free trial and use offer code HYPERALLERGIC to get 10% off of your first purchase.AdvertisementAdvertisementAdvertisementAdvertisementAdvertisement