10 Surprising Things Creative Websites Often Forget

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At Graph Paper Press, we build minimalist WordPress themes so that your work can be on display, not our themes. But hey, you can take it too far. In looking at hundreds of websites, would you believe that many leave out some of the most basic and important pieces of information? Here’s how to avoid those same mistakes and include the top 10 things your website needs:

1. An About Page

Artists, designers, and photographers are famous for leaving the explanation up to the observer. But a little bit about you, along with an artist statement, goes a long way in helping viewers and visitors understand your work and feel connected to it, and you.

While you’re at it, make sure to include your full name. Lots of people forget this, particularly if their business name is different from their personal name. Unless you’re working undercover, remember that people want to know who you are.

2. Your Photo

Chances are, you have beautiful images of your work on your site, but you don’t even have one single photo of yourself! We get it. When the lens is turned onto you, you get camera-shy. But when potential clients are meeting you for the first time online, a self-portrait is essential to helping make you seem real, human and personal.

The Graph Paper Press About You Widget is a plugin for WordPress that adds a widget for easily creating an about you section to any widgetized region in your theme.  On the widget page, you can add your name, your photo, a brief bio, an email address, a phone number and a web link.  The plugin inherits the styling of your theme. Easy peasy.

3. Contact Info

Yes, we have actually seen people leave this out! Your business isn’t much of a business if no one can reach you. List your email and phone number, or if you prefer, link to a contact form. That said, relying solely on contact forms can prove problematic if either the form doesn’t send you a notification or your visitors provide an incorrect email. Either way, don’t make your visitors rely on telepathy to speak to you.

To add a contact form to your site, check out GravityForms ($39 for a personal account), Wufoo (starts at Free), and Google Docs forms (Free with a Google account).

4. Your Location

Location, location, location. The mantra still holds true online, even if you work or sell your work beyond your local city or town. It’s good for visitors and potential clients to know where you work (think time zones, ship times, etc.), and bloggers and reporters often look at where you are located for their stories.

Need extra credit? Don’t forget to register your business on Google Maps, Google Local, and Yelp.

5. Call to Action

We’ve noticed creatives are shy about getting people to do anything but enjoy their work. And if that’s your goal, by all means, keep at it! But if you also want to make a living, think about leading your visitors to whatever action you want potential customers to take. Add a “Buy” or “Purchase” page and button, or simply an “Inquire to Buy” link that leads to your contact information.

To quickly add a call to action, use the Graph Paper Press Shortcodes plugin, which gives you the ability to add a button element to your site. Just wrap the text you want to use (your call to action) in the shortcode [button]. See an example near the end of this page.

6. Social Buttons

If you have an active Facebook, Twitter, or other social accounts, make sure not to forget links to your pages and profiles on your site (just make sure the accounts you link to are updated regularly!). Let your visitors and clients interact with you where they feel most comfortable.

Want to make it easy for your readers to share your blog posts on Twitter and Facebook? Follow this tutorial to add social media sharing buttons to your posts.

You can also add the our Base Hook Widgets plugin to easily add social icons to whatever area you prefer on your site: before the header, in the header, after the header, before the title, after the title, before the sidebar, after the sidebar, before the footer, after the footer… well, you get the idea.

7. Email Collector

You get one shot at keeping people’s attention when they visit your site. Once visitors leave, they likely won’t come back, even if they have the best of intentions. Capture their interest with an opt-in sign-up email form, and email your list on a consistent and regular basis (no need to stress about it – once a month should be plenty). Incentivize sign-ups with promotions, deals, sneak peeks and/or an insider’s look at your work.

Email marketing services that integrate with WordPress include MailChimp (starts at Free), Campaign Monitor ($15 a month for small lists), and Constant Contact ($15 a month for small lists). We’ve personally used both MailChimp and Campaign Monitor and both are great options.

8. An Unsubscribe Link

You hate spam, right? So do your fans. Before you get too excited about emailing customers and potential clients, remember that you should never, ever send unsolicited email. Don’t add emails to your list unless visitors have added themselves, or people you know have explicitly given you permission. And make sure to add an unsubscribe link in case people change their minds. It’s the law, not to mention you only want to be emailing individuals who are truly inspired by your work.

9. Testimonials

If people say nice things about you, other people should know. Testimonials add social proof and help increase sales of your services and work. After all,  what others say about you is 10X more powerful and persuasive than what you say about yourself. Consider integrating testimonials into key areas all around your site.

The GPP Testimonials Widget is a plugin for WordPress for creating attention-grabbing, stylized customer testimonials.  You can use shortcode to add testimonials to Posts and Pages or you can add testimonials using widgets.

10. Your Personality

Okay, this one is a bit tougher than all the rest, but is obviously the most essential. Your site is your personal space on the web – you own it. Don’t be afraid to make your mark. Don’t copy what everyone else is doing. Do you.

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Posted by , at Graph Paper Press

Thad is the founder of Theme.Works and Graph Paper Press. Previously, he produced online multimedia and documentary projects for USA Today including the inauguration of President Barack Obama and many others. He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife Abby.

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10 thoughts on “10 Surprising Things Creative Websites Often Forget”

  1. Not just creatives! I’d guess that >25% of the IT support sites I’ve looked at recently have failed to mention the area they serve. You may be great, but if you’re on the other side of the world you’re no use to me…..

  2. great post… #7 is the one that viewers probably are using the least at this point, or the one that irritates readers the most, at least from my view

  3. I can’t unsubscribe from your newsletter because footer is not displayed correctly.
    Is that with purpose? I think it is. Scam.

  4. Good points here. Although I wouldn’t just say that this is restricted to creatives! I need to address and improve some of the things mentioned here. There are some great resources here. I’m off to check out the testimonials plugin. Thanks.

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