Need a little website critique/opinion <3

  • I've had my portfolio website for over a year and don't know what to think of it.

    Illustrations are in 3 separate categories on the front page, each can be expanded to view more. There's a Sketchbooks page which will soon be replaced by a Blog page (someone mentioned it's better to put sketchbook/WIP things in social media, keeping the website for finalised artwork).

    Thinking about changing the layout similar to Holly Exley's website — it features all the illustrations in small category groups which are seen straight away without needing to scroll. Plus the detailed left-hand menu with all the projects listed.

    Do the About and Contact pages have enough information for potential clients? I also need to add a commission sheet with all the prices and details, could be why nobody has contacted me for work so far >< Or maybe the illustrations/style need to be developed more?

    One more thing — is the domain name Mountainbeehive too long and should I be using my name instead? 🤔


  • Pro

    @MountainBeehive Uhmm, I'm not sure! I quite like your website, but I like Holly Exley's too. Both work! Your sketchbook flippy thing was really cool, bu I think it's a good idea to do a blog instead and keep sketches for your social media. Do link your social media on your website! The only thing I'm not crazy about are the little descriptions to each category in the illustration section, which I feel are kind of breaking the pace and should be visual only. The explanation of the beehives your grandpa had is very nice but can go in your about page instead. The other descriptions are a bit more empty, writing words just for the sake of words.. "People are a subject of endless exploration." It's kind of pointless, you know? You could keep it all visual easily!

    I would personally advise against putting prices and details on your website, since usually you'll want to charge different prices for different clients... Putting one fixed price up there is kind of shooting yourself in the foot if you're pitching to a big company that could pay you more! It's probably not the reason no one has contacted you, in general personal websites have very low traffic and people only see them when you send them the link, for example when applying for a job. For personal commissions, social media is a better place for that and you can always have a commission price up on there, for example in your instagram highlighted stories.

    Lastly, I don't think Mountain Beehive is too long but you might want to consider just using your name nonetheless. A name like Mountain Beehive can make some wonder if you are one artist or an organization, it's just less clear... There is also a children illustration agency called Beehive illustration, so people who google you might find that instead. And clients that worked with you in the past will remember your name, but maybe not you cute studio name, so make yoursure if they google your name they can actually find you again!

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  • SVS OG

    I toally agree with what @NessIllustration said. May I ask what type of projects do you wish to get with your website. Children’s books? Advertisment? licensing? Knowing what market you’re planning to get into can help both of us evaluate your website.

  • I deleted my earlier post because it was actually a connection issue. Embarassing. I looked at your site on mobile and desktop and I actually like your basic layout better than the alternative you were considering.

    A link to an etsy story or similar with a few pictures gives price information to small buyers in an appropriate way. So does a link to a deviant are or tumbler or instagram where you list commissions as an option with ballpark prices. Basically it shows that you sell work and gives some idea what league you are in pricewise, but doesn't set a price in stone.

    I have also seen artists I was considering for my "dream" list who worked on Magic the Gathering have a commissions page with prices (which were in the thousands). So, YMMV.

  • I like your site design better than Holly Exley's. I feel like Holly's is a bit overwhelming with all the links on the left side. Yours is much cleaner and doesn't make me think, "Crap, what am I supposed to be looking at?"

    I don't know what to tell you about having sketches visible on your site. Part of me thinks it's so cool to see the thought process, but I see why other people might not put anything but the finished image up. Then again, portfolios like the ones on Behance expect you to show process images and such, right? So I don't know what the right answer is.

    For your name, maybe you could keep MountainBeehive and add a subheading that says "Illustration art by (Your Name)." I know I go by TwiggyT because my real name is really common.

  • I would agree with the others. Your current site is much cleaner and simpler. I like it a lot more than your other example site. But the question is "Am I your audience?" I would think this would work better if you are courting an audience like art directors.

    I have done quite a few websites (though mine is still waiting). The first thing you need to think about your audience. Who are you trying to reach and why?

    If you want commissions have you identified who would ask for a commission? If you have done commissions for people you have connected with in a different way you can think about how this would appeal to them. Think about what information they would want before contacting you. What is your hook?

    If you are looking for attracting art directors, think about what they would want to see. A single style or a couple, lots of different things you want draw as examples.

    Are you trying to build your fan base? Then you will want to make sure that new stuff is up front and changing often and you have your social media links right up front.

    Or is it none of these, do you really just want an online presence because you "have to". If that is the case you will want to do something simple that will stand the test of time because you will probably not go back to it for a year.

    Making a website work for you is really like any other marketing piece and you need to focus on the intent. And remember if you have too many goals (more the 2) you will probably do all of them poorly.

  • Hello!

    I also like your website much better than Holly Exley's. It is clearer and easy to navigate. Because your sketches are very different to your illustrations, I would also keep it. It shows other skills that might interest potential clients.

    Also, I like you name but I also understand Nessillustration's comments, in particular the possibility to confuse potential clients. Although by looking at your website, I think the risk is minimal as it really features your work as an individual artist.

    Finally, I see that you sell or exhibit in Sydney. If you want to draw with me sometimes, please let me know in MP!

  • I agree with what others have said here and also like the clean look of your site. It seems to showcase your home runs rather than everything under the sun. I also agree with @NessIllustration about the name and think having your own may make it a bit clearer that you are one entity.

    Beautiful work btw!

  • Who are you trying to target with this website? If this website were a resume, what job would you be trying to land?

  • Thank you all so much for the detailed advice and input! 😍 I never expected this many tips and will keep coming back to read them while improving the website~ Thank you for being part of the journey! ☺

    @NessIllustration Definitely had doubts about those descriptions and put them for the sake of having more content and text, it's such a relief to remove it! :smiling_face_with_open_mouth_closed_eyes: The domain for my name is taken, what about "Millerillos" (short for illustrations) or "IllustrationMill" or "YanaMillerArt"? ♥

    @ThisKateCreates There seems to be strange connection problem when trying to follow the link from my Instagram profile as well, I'll need to fix that somehow ><
    Making art for magic the gathering cards must be one of the ultimate dreams! I heard that some of them paint on enormous canvases, which makes the art so detailed and impressive when reduced to small card size. Never knew that their commission prices were in thousands! =O Another dream! 😃

    @nyrrylcadiz Thank you so much for the advice! It's so difficult to choose one! 🤔
    Recently one of the artists mentioned that their income comes from several things — client work, private commissions, selling prints, blogging and advertising. If that's the case, does the website still need to target one of them? ♥

    @TwiggyT Thank you for the compliment!! It's hard to analyse your own website from distance and your comment has given me wings! Will definitely add the "illustration art by" tagline, why didn't i think of it before! ♥

    @theprairiefox Oh yes, choosing an audience and courting for it should have been done at the beginning, but i still wonder who my audience might be! Having new content upfront sounds brilliant, maybe a future blog page will become the homepage and illustrations will go on a separate page? 🤔 I've always had issues with too many goals and a hesitation to choose a narrower path, it might be the reason why i feel so behind as a creative. Thank you so much for the advice and compliment! ❤

    @Julia Never thought about the sketchbooks having a different style, thank you for bringing that up! 😃 I don't remember seeing any artist's website with a sketchbooks page, so i thought it was a unique kind of content to feature.
    It's so exciting to know that someone is from Sydney too, drawing together would be so awesome! There's also life drawing classes and group sketching events we can visit for ultimate inspiration!

    @dji Definitely thinking about the possible domain names. Would something like "IllustrationMill" still sound like a company rather than an individual entity? It suggests my family name, and the watermark is also shaped like a mill, so it would make a bit more sense than the current domain. Thank you so much for the compliment! 😃

    @Braden-Hallett That's the most difficult question for me at the moment, i'll definitely take the time to think about it! I've always wished to illustrate children's books, so publishing agencies and art directors will definitely be an important audience to target! ♥

  • SVS OG

    @MountainBeehive If you’ve chosen a certain genre you can definitely branch out to all of these revenue streams. Like if you get into children’s illustrations you can recieve jobs from a publishing company, do client commissions, sell prints, do advertisements, etc. Will, Jake and Lee do all of them except perhaps for the client commissions (i think it’s because they’re recieving so much better paying and rewarding jobs) 🙂 what they did in their websites is that they had a different tab for their portfolios and another tab for their store where they sell their prints. However, they don’t have a tab for private commissions (probably because they don’t want to do it which kinda makes this example a bit irrelevant 😅).

    Anyway, my point is that they’re children’s book illustrators and they chose to highlight it first and foremost in their websites and all of their other businesses are just add ons. You need to choose what do you really want to do. Do you only want to do commissions for individual clients or are you aiming for the big fish? What is your end goal? When you’ve finally chosen your main focus, then you can branch out to other things.

    If you want to land a job with a publisher or a comapny like Magic: the Gathering your website needs to be professional-looking. Adding a client commsions tab (in my opinion) “cheapens” your site. If these big dogs want to commission you, all they need is your email and they’ll contact you themselves. If this is the path you want to take but still want to do commissions, like others have suggested, you can have that in your social media platforms where you can reach more people, have more traffic on your posts, and have a more casual atmosphere. However, if you’re planning to set up your own business in the future, selling your own products to the masses and working for yourself, a commisions tab might help you more to reach this goal.

    That is why it’s very vital to detemine which industry you want to get into when critiquing a website. Each field have different standards. It pays to know what your endgame is this early so that you’ll have more time to tailor your site to your prospective clients’ tastes and needs. But if you’re still undecided, that’s alright as well. Take your time. Though it’s great to be decisive, it can also be hell if you make a hasty decision now only to realise in the future that you made the wrong one. Trust me I’ve been there. I hope this is helpful.

  • @MountainBeehive LOL. I think there is a lot of variance in MTG artists. The one I was looking at was on my dream list for a reason. 😉 Some artists do massive canvases partly so they have something to sell after the card is made as well. My understanding is each card isn't a huge sum so you either work really fast or need other income streams. I'm no expert though.

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