Tuesday, March 15, 2011


by Ginger Nielson

Do you have an illustration website?  Does it flow easily for the viewer?  Is it a cluttered mess that won't open quickly?  Are you a writer with a website? Is it so overloaded with text that your viewers quickly move on?
Are there so many bells and whistles on the front page that the viewer is forced to tap their fingers waiting for it to open?  .... or worse yet, just leave and go on to another site.

What does a good website need?
It needs to open quickly on a number of different browsers.
It needs to attract the attention of your target audience.
It needs to keep your visitor actively interested in that important first page.
It needs to have a visible and easy way to navigate from page to page.
It needs to have all it's links updated on a regular basis and checked for orphaned links.
It needs a consistent overall design.

This means as an illustrator you want to show off your artwork in a gallery of your very best, crisp, colorful and easily accessed images.
The quicker the Art Director can get to the meat of your website, the easier it is for him or her to decide if you have what they are looking for.
Bells and whistles are fun, but unless you are actually looking for a job as an animator or website guru, the pages that open with long waits for intricate animations to “LOAD” aren’t going to be the best invitation for those busy professionals. Fancy Flash and animations take time to load.
IF your expertise is animation and that is what you are promoting, at least provide a “skip intro” button that will allow the art editor a quick passage to your artwork.

Things you will pay for:
A Domain Name  -- any number of choices are available for a search on the internet.
A web hosting service -- some are free, some can be had for a monthly or yearly fee.

How do I create my website?
There are a number of free and easy to use web authoring programs on the internet.  However, it could benefit you if you invest in a program that will allow you to create a smooth flowing website that you have control over.  The web programs offered for sale range in price and difficulty.  One of the best is Dreamweaver from Adobe.  This is the one I use for my website and one I am still learning to use effectively.
This program is difficult to learn if you are a first time web creator. There are tutorials, paid and free on the internet. Once you purchase any program from Adobe they do offer support and forums for your benefit.

Here is a link to a comparison page of web creation software  programs that may be helpful.

 But, if you have never created a website before, one of the free and easier to use web programs might be better for you to start with. Apple offers iWeb to all mac users and there are a number of other free programs available.
Microsoft offers WebMatrix for free download and makes it easy for you to get started.

A google search will give you many other listings.
And there are more ... just do a search for FREE WEBSITES.

An alternative to free websites or paid websites is Blogger.  With a blog you can create numerous posts complete with photos, illustrations and videos.  Once you are proficient with something like Blogger or Wordpress you may want to move on to a more sophisticated web authoring program.

Here are some things to remember when you create your website.
If you have music on your website, it is a good idea to have a SOUND/OFF and ON button.
(Some people may open your site while at work, and there is nothing more disturbing than to suddenly have music or sound of some kind blasting into the workplace.)

Are you a writer?  There should be links to your works, your books, and any articles that you want to share with the viewers.

Are you an illustrator? There should be some sort of portfolio to show off your work along with links to any work that is for sale in books, magazines, or free standing artwork.

Even if you cannot create your own illustration portfolio for your website, there are many portfolio hosts on the internet. Some are expensive to belong to, others are totally free.

Here are some of portfolio hosting sites you will pay a fee for:
Children's Illustrators
Hire an Illustrator
Picture Book
The Directory of Illustration
The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators  ( SCBWI)  --This organization is something that
all writers and illustrators of children's books should seriously consider joining.  The fee is reasonable considering the cost of the other paid portfolio sites.  In addition SCBWI offers great contacts, resources, entry to contests that give rewards, a forum of your peers and annual and regional conferences that put you in touch with others in your field and the publishing world at large.

And there are FREE (or next to free) portfolio hosting sites as well:
Take some time to investigate the sites and see if one would work for you.
Remember that there is help all over the internet and a simple search can lead to just the right program for your needs.

Once the visitor has reached the object of your hard work, your portfolio, you can place the necessary links on that page. You may want to have links to other places on the internet where you have work displayed, or where they can find your Resume or Bio pages, or perhaps you have animations, online stories, a blog, or books you have illustrated that you want noticed. All these can be available as links on this page.
When your site is as good as you can make it the next step is to get it listed on as many search engines as possible. Here again, use the free submit sites. In a few weeks, sometimes just a day or two, you’ll be seeing your web pages and links to your site on many search engines.
Some illustrators may choose to have a third party create their website. That’s fine, but keep an eye on your source code and that all important opening page.


  1. Great post, Ginger. I, personally, use Weebly.

  2. I use Yolasite and Weebly, as well as the website with my Yahoo small business account for the business.

    You have good tips, and I hope people follow them.

  3. Terrific post, Ginger. This is information we can really use!

  4. Great post, Ginger. I think having a website is extremely important to both writers and illustrators.

    I have one for my books and Dilly has his own using Weebly. Facebook is great because you can make pages for your books, characters, etc.

  5. Good post Ginger. I will save this info for some future reference.