Your Art Museum website should emphasize the art like this museum does - Art on the wall with no distractions

Your Art Museum Website Needs to Emphasize the Art, Not the Website

The art must be the focal point, not the background or crazy colors on the site. Don't have too many pieces too close together unless you're doing an online gallery show. Whitespace between images and text helps make pictures of the art pop and keeps your website visitors on the page longer.

As stated in my last blog post, when you read an art review, there are usually several things highlighted, the title, the artist, and the size of the piece. Your website should do the same. Is the work’s title prominently featured in the text? Is the artist’s name there? If the artwork on display is for sale, does it indicate what size the artwork is? Is there enough contrast in the image for viewers to accurately appreciate the artist’s use of color? Keeping these and other questions in mind can help you to create the ideal art website.

What Makes a Great Art Museum Website

A solid website for an art gallery or museum should include everything above. However, the success of any website relies heavily on a few key design elements.

Research: One of the most important pieces of design advice for a museum website is to research the work being featured. This information is essential for offering visitors the best user experience possible. Is the work being showcased on the website owned by the museum? Is it owned by the artist or a collector? What medium was it made with? Does the site include the artist’s bio and artist statement? How long has the artist been producing art?

Although it might seem like a simple oversight, simple research like this ensures that website visitors can easily find information on the piece they’re looking at. This could help encourage them to buy it if the work is for sale.

Design: The art must be the focal point, not the background or crazy colors on the site. Don’t have too many pieces too close together unless you’re doing an online gallery show. Whitespace between images and text helps make pictures of the art pop and keeps your website visitors on the page longer.

How to Create the Ideal Art Museum Website

Check Your Resources When creating the art museum’s website, make sure you use proper web design tools like WordPress and Elementor to make it look as good as possible. A professional web designer is best, and you can probably hire one locally.

A website created using outdated software will show. Obsolete software makes it difficult to have a modern, professional-looking site.

You’ll need a few different web design software programs for your art museum website.

WordPress: WordPress is a popular Content Management System (CMS). It started out as a simple blogging platform, but it’s become so much more. Pages, blog posts, event calendars, e-commerce stores, there’s almost no limit to what you can do with it today.

Elementor: Elementor page designer software allows you to design beautiful, modern pages in WordPress. You can create galleries on your website, add stunning images, and get visitors to stay engaged. Web designers, small-business owners, and artists find Elementor incredibly useful. Because they’re both easy to use and powerful, this web design software has become very popular for small-business owners and art galleries.

WooCommerce: WooCommerce is the largest e-commerce plugin for selling physical items in WordPress. And it has its own plugins to add functionalities like accepting online donations, adding payment processors, shipping calculators, and many more.

Why Your Art Museum Needs a Website

Aside from enhancing your museum or gallery’s sales, your website supports business operations. 

You give your visitors the ability to research your products and artists online and even purchase from the comfort of their homes.

A website can also be a helpful customer service tool. In addition to simple information like your location and hours, you can answer questions for clients and visitors and quickly sort out any issues. Unfortunately, you won’t find many museum websites focusing on customer service because museum and gallery websites are generally little more than electronic brochures.

Your art museum website can easily stand out from the rest by adding simple features like videos and galleries.

How to Do It Right

To begin with, you need to remember that art is subject to interpretation and tradition. Just like there is no “best” artwork, there is no “right” way to represent an artwork. 

But there are definitely wrong ways to do it.

How to do it right:

  1. Show the entirety of the work instead of focusing on one prominent part of it.
  2. Use strong typography (easy to read, not too flowery) to inform visitors about the artwork displayed. Don’t use a font that upstages the art.
  3. When trying to decide on which photos to use, select images that accurately depict the art. Don’t use images with shadows or reflections. Shooting pictures of oil paintings can be especially tricky. You’ll probably need a professional photographer.

Keep the Art Front and Center

Art galleries often make a mistake in how they feature their art. Using small images should be avoided at all costs. Use large images and allow (if you have permission from the artist) website visitors to click and enlarge the image. 

Keep the description a little bit away from the image. This allows for whitespace and still gives the viewer the ability to learn about the art on the page. It’s the best way to ensure that their experience will be informative and compelling.

Art museums usually label all their works on display, but they don’t highlight the ones for sale. If a piece is for sale, it’s not enough to simply display the artwork and call it a day. Let the viewer know that they can take it off the wall (not literally, of course).

By displaying a link to the store so a visitor can buy the artwork on display, the website can stay focused on the art.

Offer Information About the Artist and the Piece

The website should include all pertinent information about the artist and the piece. This consists of the artist’s name, the year it was created, the medium, and a link to a bio.

If the piece is a print, that must be explained. Selling a print as an original artwork could land your organization in hot water.

Discuss the piece with your website visitors. When someone clicks on a piece’s image, a short description of the work should appear in the web browser. If the artwork is up for auction, be sure they can see the number of days left on the bidding.

If the artist has sold pieces before, allow them to view the artist’s latest sale, which may be available online.

Allow Visitors to Purchase Art on Your Website

Art galleries and museums often have a “buy” button or a link next to the artwork. Make it easy for visitors to make that purchase right there by including one on each artist’s page. That’s the best way to encourage visitors to explore the online store.

Creating unique galleries on your website and changing them out regularly (not too often, though) gives people a reason to visit your website again and again.

For example, you could make a specific gallery to display the work of one of your featured artists. Incorporating their social media buttons on your website should help you promote your art gallery. And that’s an essential part of reaching your target audience.