This Actor's Soapbox: I Need My Own Website
Here's a big doozy.
The thing that has been the most popular for a few years right now but is making a heavy comeback is Wix.
Easy peasy, free, you have a site builder and cookie cutter layouts. Numbers of businesses, actors and directors use this. The only problem? It's exactly that, cookie cutter.
Some of them don't look good at all. Most local designers think they're the cat's meow but most designs fall flat. Sometimes you'll get the gems but you'll be over paying or waiting forever for a turn around.
I myself design them and design them well. I've done work for ABC, Universal and Hollywood. I charge $150.00 and sometimes discount specials for $60.00 and $80.00.
Anyone that charges above $600 is crazy. If it's for a big corporation or business then yeah, by all means charge $1,200. But for a little actor website or a mom and pop business? No.
The thing with actors and people in the creative field is just that, we're starving artists Guess what that means? No dough. So if you see someone charging $300 For a website that looks like your grandmother made it or even a page builder? Don't.
Some Wix sites are good, some not so good.
The best thing I can tell you is not to use Wix. Free is great and all but you don't want your site to look like everyone else's nor do you want it to look mediocre. Don't design your own site unless you have actual experience and can actually match colors and do fonts without making it grainy.
Here's a few tips to look for if you have a current website.
001. Your head shots look grainy and pixelated, they are too small and in different thumb nail sizes, all over your page or take up too much or too little of your page. That's lazy page building work or lazy web work. You always need high quality images to work with. ALWAYS.
002. You still have that awesome space or stars background on your page. Big font, too small of font, pixelated text can also happen here too.
003. Music that loads as soon as you hit the page. DEAR GOD, NO. Don't. Someone could be listening to the radio, or an I-Pod or just want complete silence.
If your music or videos automatically start then that means they load every single time someone refreshes the page. Don't do it.
If they want to hear you, then they will go to your media page or click a simple 'play' button. Auto play is a hell no.
004. All you have is a page with a picture, some text about you and a link to an email. If it's not a coming soon page or a splash page (an enter page that you click on a picture to get into the main website. Something that people did in the 90s.) then that's not a site. It's a hot mess.
005. Cookie cutter layouts on a page builder. They're perfectly aligned, you've got a banner (image graphic of you or the subject of the site) with big text over it or even the text in the picture and it looks like every damn website out there. You want to be original, to stand out.
006. Bright, blinding colors. No, no and no.
007. Huge, huge Youtube framed videos. Tacky, make them into the frame, make them match your website/background color scheme.
008. Never make everything the same shade of color but in different darks and lights. It's boring, sure it'll look pretty and organized but it needs to pop. If you have all crimson red with dark red font, light red sidebar, etc it looks boring. Add some pop to it, light golds for fonts, etc.
009. Png files are out. jpeg/jpg and animated gifs (if done the right way) are the best ways to display images. Pngs were great for a while but now the newer programs and browsers don't support them anymore.
The only thing I liked about them was that they were precise and almost were never grainy. Ah, well. Bon voyage!
010. Who gives a rats behind about SEO. Don't break your neck trying to find people to make it uber perfect. They will list you on Google, meta tags, submit you to proper search engines etc. Don't stress over little details like that, you'll be known. Trust me.
When hiring a designer, don't rip them off. The smart ones will give you digital or written contracts. You have to keep your word, you sign your name digitally or written and we need to be paid. Then it's legally binding so if you're a douche, it'll haunt you.
It's also good for the client as well so that they have assurance that things will turn out right and they can reread all of the agreements and terms to their heart's content.
Most do half pay now and half pay when the project is finished. Look for the portfolio sites, make sure they have good work, not decent work. Check their prices, check their bios and what they have done. Don't trust crappy sites like Craigslist, Angie's List etc. Go with your gut.
So remember kids, websites have to present you and not page builders or messes. Never rip anyone off, look for prices and know your limits, try to fall out of the Weebly, Wix and Freewebs etc trends and always have patience with your web buddies. It pays off in the end