October 14, 2010

How to: Set up your Art website easily with Wordpress - Part 1

As mentioned earlier, I wanted to do a series of techie posts to enable artists to migrate to wordpress. If you already blog on wordpress, and want to have a portfolio/gallery also included in your blog to make it look more complete, then this would help you too. But before I go into the details of setting up with Wordpress, this part is actually about what led me to choose Wordpress.

I have seen a lot of artists using a Mac. A LOT actually. The Mac seems to be a very popular choice among artists and photographers, myself included. While the Mac is indeed fantastic for image processing and image organizing, choosing iWeb for my website was a bad idea. The main factor that influenced my decision in favour of iWeb was the ease of maintenance. It is unbelievably easy that my daughter could do it. For a largely static website, it is indeed a great choice. But then, I did not want a static website really. In my home page for instance, I would like to have my most recent works displayed and this display to be updated automatically everytime I upload new work. iWeb makes this like this extremely difficult, for those who are not proficient Mac users if I may add. It's been only a year since I converted, so there could be stuff possible with iWeb too, but well given a choice I'd spend my time painting than doing it.

The things that I looked for in a solution are:

1. Sleek and minimal look and feel, sans any clutter. Uniform look and feel in my portfolio and my blog pages.

2. Easy to update.

3. Adept at handling images - converting them to a portfolio, sorting images into sub galleries. In short easy to upload, organize and maintain my works.

4. Facilitating collectors to buy directly from my website without having to login to a store or anything of that sort.

I had quite a few issues with iWeb, most of them related to the way images and photo galleries are organized. If you look at it, the other pages, like the Artist statement or Biography, they are largely static. It is the image gallery that is the crux to a good artist website and I found iWeb severely lacking in this.

Some of my pet peeves were:

1. No permalink for each image in the gallery

Now if I have to link to a single image in any blog post, I cannot. Only the album as a whole has a unique link and each image is just bookmarked there. This is a major drawback in an Artist portfolio where images are the key. These days, with the omnipresent facebook like button, it really helps if each image has it's own page and a like button to go with it. Makes it really easy for someone to share your work with others.

2. Not very easily customizable

It took me quite a while to actually get to know where the files of the templates can be found and how to tweak them etc. I am one who looks for a ready made template but I like to add my modifications to it. I do not like my website to look like any one else's, so the template/theme being unique is very important to me. iWeb cannot really be customized at the code level, like modifying the CSS or something. I did look through a lot of video tutorials later on and saw that it indeed is quite a flexible platform, but I prefer meddling with code anyday. That's just a personal choice again, and not something prefered if you do not have a technical background.

3. Cannot add links to images

You can create an image gallery in iWeb in less than 30 seconds. You just need to drag and drop your images and it organizes them into a beautiful gallery with a slideshow option embedded. In a blink literally. But now, if I want to add a paypal button below each image, I cannot. If I want to give a link to my blog post about this particular work, I cannot. These things really get onto my nerves. iWeb also offers very little customization on how these images appear, their borders, frames etc. I spent days on end trying to figure out how to add a paypal button below each image, without sacrificing the features that the image gallery offered, all in vain. Of course as I said earlier, if this is indeed possible and if someone could enlighten me, I would gladly stand corrected. I would definitely like to know, out of curiousity.

4. A good for nothing blogging platform

iWeb also offers the option to blog, but it is a joke really. It has absolutely nothing in terms of features and it is something even less than primitive. When my whole idea when I moved from blogger was to integrate my blog and website, and here I was left with only two options - one, to still have them separate defeating the whole purpose of my move and all the $$ I spent in hosting. Two, was to choose a blog template that is similar in look and feel to my iWeb template and allow seamless navigation between the two. I chose the latter, and for a long time was updating two different sites literally and taking a lot of time to make them look seamless. I guess I came up with this brilliance in one of those moments, and would strictly not recommend it at all. I cannot even think anyone else would be that stupid to come up with this idea.

So that is in a nutshell why I finally made a move from iWeb. While I have moved to wordpress, I'd like to add a word about good old blogger here. Within weeks of my move, blogger introduce the "pages" feature, thereby making it ridiculously easy to integrate a blog and portfolio. If I had not spent money on hosting, that's what I'd have done. I might revert after my hosting ends in another couple of years, but it is too early to tell. As of now I am thrilled with Wordpress and could just choose to stay. More techie tips and tricks soon to follow.


Post a Comment

If you like it, share it!