No – that wasn’t meant in a complimentary tone! For a long time now we’ve been voicing our concerns about flash-based artist websites. You can check out our thoughts on this topic in our previous article, Are Flash Websites Good For Artists.
But guess what? – we aren’t the only online art marketing advisors voicing our concerns about Flash. In recent months, Robin at Artist Career Training, Dan at Empty Easel, and Clint over at Fine Art Views have all been very clear about their concerns with Flash as an artist website technology.
To top it all off, this week the very influential design site Smashing Magazine published “The Gradual Disappearance Of Flash Websites”.
So – what are you waiting for? And why are so many artists and photographers being seduced by flash artist websites offered by big commercial portfolio companies?
Here is my honest opinion – and I’ve decided not to pull any punches with future articles. I think that artists choose flash artist websites because they don’t have a clue about art marketing. They think flash sites look sexy and breathtaking, but what they don’t realize is that while that might be true for showing off to friends and family, it isn’t the case when you are trying to promote professionally. (I do make one exception to this – see below later). My honest opinion is that flash artist websites are for amateurs who want to think of themselves as professionals.
There are a bunch of problems with Flash which you can read about in my earlier article mentioned above, “Are Flash Websites Good For Artists“. But here the reasons why I believe that a true professional (meaning someone who has to generate business not just look sexy) wouldn’t touch this admittedly great-looking technology:
Slow Loading – A typical flash artist website takes a long time to load and most of us are developing shorter attention spans not longer. As a professional assessing work online, I want to see the art quickly because I don’t have much time and my eye can detect the style of art I want to select very quickly. I don’t want to be slowed down by your website with its % counters ticking away while the page loads. Honestly – when I see that these days I am GONE and that is lost business to a pro.
Distraction – Flash artist websites are typically incredibly distracting. Those page loads, swipes, flutters, and moving images might impress your friends but they will just alienate a serious art professional. Think I’m kidding? Make a list of 20 flash-based artist sites and go visit them all one by one. I’ll bet you anything that you feel really aggro by the time you are at #10! Professionals searching the web are doing that regularly so imagine how they feel – and how much more attention they would pay to your website when it doesn’t distract them!
Search Engine Optimization – Flash artist websites typically suck when it comes to SEO – because the text is embedded in the flash, making it difficult for search engines to read. Now, Google recently announced that its crawlers can now read flash sites – and we believe them – but we haven’t seen the results yet. And a couple of other thoughts on this topic: What about Bing and Yahoo? Are they now flash-friendly as well? And the BIG question – If Flash is so SEO friendly then how come none of the big Flash Website Portfolio Companies rank highly in organic search engine results? Think we’re kidding? Try googling “Artist Websites” and see what you find. You will see the Flash portfolio sites there – but in the paid results. That means one of two things, neither of which is good omen for you the artist – either they know nothing about SEO, or Flash is still a less-than-perfect technology for search engine recognition.
So – what is the one exception I mentioned above where Flash might be a good idea? Confession – I LOVE flash-based Wedding Photographer websites! I imagine that a couple looking for a wedding photographer could get very swept-up in the sumptuous visual images and the romantic feelings that they evoke. That is my one exception to my opinion – so don’t say I’m not flexible.
When you choose an artist website you have to first put yourself in the shoes of a typical client and ask yourself what they are looking for in a good website. If you’re not sure, ask some professionals in your industry. You can also ask other artists – but only those who are making a serious income from their art – that is the ultimate proof of the pudding.
Beware Flash – seriously!