This is an ultimate list of web design tips for photographers that will help you optimize your site to get more inquiries and pull more weight in your business. Your website is a huge time investment, so it should definitely pay you back for all that effort.
Photographers are a group of people that are near and dear to my heart as a web designer because we usually see eye-to-eye in terms of the design. You guys like pretty things and so do I, simply put. And you always have tons of stunning shots to display on your sites, which makes building photography sites that much more exciting than building any old site with stock photography.
If you’re a photog who is DIYing your site I put together this list of web design tips for photographers just for you. We want to make sure that your site not only looks beautiful, but brings you more client inquiries + doesn’t hinder your visitors from finding the information they’re looking for.
Let’s just get right to the tips!
1.) You need a solid image optimization tool in place to avoid a really slow site
All those amazing pictures come with a downside and that is that big, high-quality images add a ton of load time to your website. It’s really easy to make your site virtually unuseable. (Yikes!)
I know that lots of photographers use a tool (like Pixieset) that allows them to build galleries that look beautiful and load quickly. You can utilize those galleries on your site by showing the visitors a single image from the gallery and prompting them to click over. One thing to consider here is that if you do this, you’re sending people away from your site + your contact page. Just make sure that you set the gallery links to open in a new window vs. in the same window. You want to keep your potential clients on your site!
My #1 recommendation for this if you have a WordPress site is ShortPixel – they have a free plan that lets you optimize 100 images per month. If you’re utilizing galleries and you’re not posting a ton of single images to your site, you can get away with this free plan fo’ sho’. If you’re blogging multiple times per month and you’re posting 20+ images per post, you may need to upgrade to a premium plan, but there’s no reason you can’t start with the free one, to begin with.
2.) Make sure your navigation bar isn’t confusing
This is kind of a two-fold thing.
First, limit your menu items and avoid adding submenus if you can. For nav menus, simpler = better. People will click away if they’re confused. I’d keep your top menu t 6 items or fewer, if you can. If you can trim it down even farther, that’s even better.
The second thing I want to touch on with nav menus is that you should avoid using potentially confusing words in them. It’s common for photographers to use “investment” as the page name instead of place of “pricing” or “prices” or “packages” on a pricing page. It’s been shown that people are confused by that terminology and they’re less likely to click on that page because they don’t make the connection that the “investment” page will lead to your pricing.
On top of that, people are more likely to search for “Atlanta wedding photography pricing” than they are to use the word “investment” in their search. So, you’re missing out on a bit of web traffic if you’re using words like that. If you’re being booked out and you use the word “investment” on your site, feel free to ignore this advice of course! But if you’re not fully booked yet, try swapping out that word and see if you get an increase in inquiries.
3.) Increase the amount that your website actually moves the needle in your business by blogging a few times per month
Blogging is one of the most effective ways to get free traffic to your website. and not just traffic, but traffic that converts (AKA – they book you to shoot their wedding or their personal branding photos.)
If you’re a wedding photographer, you can blog about things that local brides will be searching for. Example: “Best Wedding Venues in Charleston” or “Most Popular Floral Design Trends for 2021”. Have you been married? What did you search for leading up to your wedding? You can bet that if you can give future brides helpful information to plan/prepare for their wedding, they’ll want to check you out.
Same goes for any type of photog. Blogging works well for almost every business, including local businesses. The key is that you need to be strategic. If you’re blogging just to blog or you’re just creating blog posts that showcase your lastest shoots, you won’t be winning traffic from Google.
You need to craft content that helps serve your ideal clients before you see results from your blog.
Pepper in some photo session blog post, of course, but make sure you’re primarily answering questions your audience has and supplying them with valuable resources and information. Give them a reason to stay on your website and a reason to come back to you when they want more information.
4.) Only put your best work on your website (Less is more)
I’m sure most of your photos are stunning! But be picky with what you put on your site and be sure to curate the best images. The last thing you want is for someone to see a more mediocre image and think “Well, I don’t want any of my photos looking like that.”
Simplicity is a beautiful thing, anyway! You want to highlight your work, but you for sure don’t want to give them a bazillion images to look at because they’ll click away.
5.) Write like you talk (Try not to be too formal unless that’s what works for your audience)
This is one of the most important web design tips for photographers ever. The truth is that your website words are just as important as your imagery and your web design.
Your clients want to feel comfortable talking to you – they want to feel like you understand what they’re feeling and what they expect from working with you. They want to be able to relate to you. Really! If your web copy is too blah and bland, no one will connect with you and you likely won’t make a lasting impression.
Write the way you talk – or write the way your ideal client talks, if it’s different than the way you speak.
Customers have sooooo many choices, so allow yourself to stand out by writing in your authentic voice. It’ll make you sound much more like a real person, which is super important because sometimes it’s hard to imagine that there’s a real person behind something as static as a website. This tip is applicable for Instagram/Facebook captions as well and it will transform your business if you can train yourself to write naturally and conversationally.
So get the best tips on writing for your website, follow some copywriters! Copywriters have the best how-tos for writing for your audience. Here are some of my go-to’s for the creative industry: Take a look at their blogs and freebies for tips galore.
6.) Use video to keep people on your website longer
Even if you don’t currently offer video, keep in mind that video keeps people on your website longer. This is great news for you, because you want to stick in prospective clients’ minds! The longer they spend browsing your site, the more likely they will be to remember you when it comes time to book their session.
Can you book a short videography session or ask a friend to film you working? Even if you can add one section of your site with a video, you’re likely boosting the length of time people stay on your site. This also works well on your about page – can you shoot some “behind the scenes” footage of your business/a day in the life? No worries if you can’t schedule this in right now, but keep it in mind for the future!
Here are some other places you can utilize this footage:
- Your Facebook header
- Instagram stories
- Pinterest video pins
- A YouTube video if you’re feeling it
7.) Consider creating digital products to offset your workload and give yourself more time in your life/business
Photographers can be teachers, too. This is more of a business tip than a web design tip for photographers, but creating digital products is such a game-changer for your business and I’d hate not to bring this up! You already know that photography is wildly popular (Like, pretty much anyone can get a camera and call themselves a photographer.)
I know you’ve seen photographers killin’ it selling their Lightroom presets and Photoshop actions – you can do that, too! There are tons of other ways you can go about this, though. Do you have a killer client onboarding email sequence? You could translate that into templates and sell it as a package. Here are a few more ideas for digital products for photographers to create and sell:
- Mini-course on how to set up client on/offboarding systems in your CRM (Honeybook, Dubsado, 17Hats, etc.)
- Social media templates for photographers
- Posing guides
- Client email response template packs
- Social media strategy course for photographers
- Bookkeeping spreadsheet for photographers
There are sooooo many ways that you can go about this. And if you want to, you should! When you have some time, site down and write 5-15 ideas for digital products that you can make and sell that are related to your photography business.
Not only will this give you another income stream, but it gives you an opportunity to reach and help photographers who are struggling in an area that you excel in. A win-win situation for sure.
8.) Ask yourself if the design of your website is actually communicating your photography style
Your images are obviously the most important element on your site and they are almost everything when it comes to conveying your style to potential clients. The design of your website shouldn’t take away/distract from your images, but it should complement them.
If your website doesn’t have much personality aside from your photography, you may be missing out on business when your potential customers browse another photographer’s site and their website’s design provides a better user experience or just flows better with the look, feel, and vibe of the photography style they have.
Scroll through your site and check to make sure that:
- The design works for your photography style.
- The user experience is smooth and intuitive (users can find what they’re looking for quickly and without too much clicking around.)
If the style isn’t quite right, explore website template options for the platform your site is built with (WordPress, ShowIt, Squarespace, etc.) If the user experience is less than stellar, ask some friends or family members to use the site and give you their feedback. You can also post in Facebook groups for photographers or business owners in general and ask for feedback on your site.
Note: (Check the Facebook group rules before you make a post with a link to your site, though, there are some Facebook groups that don’t allow this.)
9.) Get your people onto an email newsletter
Here’s one of my absolute favorite web design tips for photographers – I know it works, because this one is the reason I ended up working with a photographer for the first time. Especially if you offer more premium services, like wedding photography, videography, or personal/business branding sessions, get people on your newsletter.
Did you know that on average, 90% of your website visitors won’t be anywhere close to being ready to book/buy when they land on your site?
“Price shopping” is something that lots of photographers have to deal with. (You probs don’t need me to tell you this! 😅) But actually, only 10% of your website visitors will actually be looking to book right now. If you can get your site visitors onto your email list and make sure to email them 2-4 times per month with helpful info, you will be top of mind when they decide it’s time to book their shoot.
This is exactly what happened when I finally decided to book a personal branding session for my business! I had signed up for a photographer’s email list because she was holding a giveaway for a personal branding shoot. I got a few newsletter emails from her that I opened and quickly scanned (I liked her personality and the pictures she was sending) and when she announced her giveaway winner (not me) I decided that I was ready to inquire about a branding shoot.
Even though I’d been thinking about doing this for over a year, being on her list was enough to give me that final push to inquire and book. (Paid my deposit the same day!) Email marketing absolutely works, y’all.
10.) Don’t go crazy with your colors (Limit them to just a few)
One of the easiest ways to make your site hard to look at is to use wayyyyy too many colors. If you’re working with a branding professional, she probably created a color palette for you! Stick to those colors and don’t add a bunch more to make sure that your style/vibe is coming across.
Do you have more web design tips for photographers to add to this list?
I’ll add more to this list of web design tips for photographers as I think of them, but let me know if there’s something you think I missed. And of course, comment or shoot me an email if you have a Q for me! I would love to chat about what you’re improving on your site.
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