The other day I received an email (from someone I respect and someone I agree with 95% of the time) that suggested you should move certain pages, like your contact page, from your navigation menu to the footer of your website.
I FEEL AN OBLIGATION TO SHARE WITH YOU ANOTHER SIDE OF THE STORY.
It’s essential that new visitors to your site can instantly find what they’re looking for. While your site may have a primary audience (for most, it’s the person who will hang the art on their walls), lots of other people will come to your site too – gallery curators, bloggers, magazine editors, manufacturers looking for art to put on their products, other artists wanting to collaborate with you…. gah! So many types of people!
Your navigation menu serves as the one spot on your site where you aren’t suggesting to people (much) where to go next.
The rest of your site should have a clear path forward for that primary audience visiting your site. For example, if it’s your customers, then on your homepage you’re probably directing them to your email list.
But you don’t want to forget about all those other people who can help move your art career forward or bring you fun and interesting opportunities. So that’s what your navigation can do. It’s non-invasive to that primary audience, while still serving all those other people really well.
But if you don’t want to overwhelm people with your navigation menu, it’s going to take some thought and you’ll have to condense it down to a handful of pages.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE IN YOUR NAVIGATION
No matter what, your navigation should include a place to look at your art (like a gallery or shop), an about page where people can learn more about you and your art, and a contact page to make it quick for someone to get in touch with you.
If you make it hard for someone to contact you, it’s a lot less likely that they will. Which means you lose out on all sorts of opportunities, and sometimes you even lose out on sales if the potential customer wanted to ask you a question before buying.
WHAT CAN GO IN YOUR FOOTER
WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER STUFF?
If you have pages for things like licensing, wholesale, and commissions then you’re going to want to hide them on other pages. I’m personally not a fan of drop-downs on your navigation menu but that would be another solution if they don’t bother you. To hide them on other pages, simply choose a page where it makes sense and provide a link.
For example, on your contact page you could add a line that says “For licensing inquiries, please click here.” and link that to your special licensing page. Because the contact page is the first spot a manufacturer is going to click if they don’t see the word “licensing” when they get to your homepage.
If you have a blog, you can decide where to put it based on how important it is to you that people read it.
If it’s a crucial marketing strategy, it should go in your navigation menu. If not, it would make a lot of sense to link to it from your About page. They are already reading about you, your art, and your inspirations. So it’s a natural fit to jump over to your blog.
If you’ve got a CV, artist statement, or resume – those can all be linked to on the About page. It’s a natural fit for someone looking for one of those to click on your About page.
AND MY SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS?
This is major. Listen up!
You do not want to send people away from your website to social media. Because if they click to your Instagram account, they may follow you or they might not, and then they are going to click to their feed and look at other people’s posts. And they’ll probably forget about you if they didn’t follow you. And if they did follow you, they are going to forget you until they happen to look at their feed at the same time that you’ve posted.
But if you don’t give them a reason to leave your site, you can instead encourage them to sign up for your email list or look at your art – in either instance, you have a big chance of connecting with them enough to make yourself memorable or even make a sale!
So your social media links can go in your footer so they’re still around if people need them or are actively seeking them out. And they should go on your contact page too so that your contact page becomes a hub for all the ways to connect with you.
DECLUTTER TO IMPRESS
Streamlining is so important on your website. But you want to ensure you balance that minimalism with ease of use. If you focus your navigation menu on all the different types of people who may offer you opportunities and the rest of your website on your potential customers, everyone will love how simple it is to fall in love with your art.