Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Photoshelter Photographer Website Survey

Photoshelter recently conducted a large survey of image buyers about what they like or hate about websites.

These are people who look for stock photography or really any sort of image that works for what they are doing – technically, there is a similarity here to curators and appropriators, though we look for a bit different things in a website. For those of you looking to make your website include a stock archive (preferable at times to letting anyone else take a cut) this information is extremely useful.

For the rest of us, there are still a lot of good opinions here (I hesitate to say data, since it’s probably not a super scientific survey, though it looks meticulous). They are all presented in a pdf that photoshelter will email you about five seconds after giving them your email. It’s chock full of graphics, tables, and information like this:

Tolerate/Like this feature Hate this feature
Flash-based introduction to your website 4% 96%
Textured or graphical backgrounds 6% 94%

I think many of you will find some of the things they found surprising – such as the 58% of buyers who look for images on photographers’ personal websites. I think most people assume they absolutely must be with one of the big three stock agencies to consider being part of the market.

Trust me, some of this stuff is universal in the art website world – not just for people with stock databases.

“Photographers spend WAYAY too much time making sites look cool rather than focusing on functionality.”

“Don’t resize my screen, I HATETE it.”

“I hate automatic music. If I want music I will go to iTunes or play my iPod.”

“I MUSTUSTUST be able to get a JPG of your work to create a comp.” – This is true for me as well, I need the jpg so I can do a feature on your work or put you in a folder for something I’m curating!


And so on – you can see that there is a lot of frustration among the image consuming public. Believe me, I feel their pain.

Now, keep in mind that photoshelter has done this entire thing (And made it available) as part of promotion for their own website platform – so it’s possible you should be taking this information with that perspective in mind. Still, I’m sure they want their product to be as successful as possible and it’s nice that they shared their corporate research with the rest of us and freely. As a company, I don’t know them intimately, but it often seems that they understand a lot about the internet that some other places just don’t.

If you guys have any questions about what people in the art and education world look for on a website (which is often a bit different, I can tell you know most stock buyers don’t give two shits about artist statements but a gallery probably will at some point), feel free to shoot them my way. There was already a fair amount of good advice in Mary Virginia Swanson’s Lecture and there has been some great discussion on the subject at Too Much Chocolate’s Emerging Photographer Forum as well.

Some of my advice would include having absolutely NO watermark (a feature on your work just looks tacky if I post it with one) and having some sort of tight edit of your main projects (of course, “tight” depends on the project – some are perfect with around 100 images, some require just one) with a database available in a second area (or even site, I don’t mind having a flickr link if I really want to see all of an artists past work).

Remember, of course, that my interests in viewing websites are distinctly uncommercial.

posted by Ian Aleksander Adams at 9:14 pm