Learn How to Create An Art Gallery Website in 18 Easy Steps

How to Create an Art Gallery Website

Table of Contents

Here’s what you’ll need to get started:

  • biographical information and photos of the artists to be showcased
  • an organization responsible for publishing and most likely a matching domain name
  • a web connected computer including a browser and file storage space
  • a reliable website hosting account with storage, speed and security

This process can be accelerated into mere days if the volume of content to be curated is small. However, when large collections are involved the combined time involved in digital photography, identification and curation could take months.

Preparing to Create the Art Gallery Website

Step #1: Begin Collecting Requirements
Affirm the expectations and requirements for the gallery’s new site. Document the number of artists and number of art works relevant to the gallery. Decide whether art will be sold directly on the site. Pick out a few example websites that are close to what’s wanted and identify what’s good and bad about the example sites.

Step #2: Affirm & Document Requirements
Use the document called 32 Requirements for Art Gallery Websites to create your own requirement document by copying it, keeping what’s representative of the gallery’s needs and removing what’s not representative. Add the specifics about artist and work counts that were discovered in the last step.

Step #3: Request Prices From Developers
Use the Requirements as an RFP to request prices from contractors and web developers. Decide how much is reasonable for others to get done. Decide how much the artists, curators and art gallery owners are going to do.

Step #4 Pick a Developer & Affirm Roles 
Pick a developer and affirm the roles and responsibilities of others. Content will need to be frequently curated so the tools and methods of curation need to be clearly defined, simple to understand, simple to perform, yet comprehensive enough to meet all needs.

Leveraging Content Management Technology Online

Step #5: Decide On Publishing Technology
Decide upon a content management system that the system will be built around. WordPress is highly recommended because it provides the most benefits.

Tip: One key benefit WordPress offers is the ability to leverage Art Gallery Plugin, an add-on created for WordPress that makes curating art while complying with wc3 and Schema.org best practices for optimizing search appearance.

Tip: Using a more proprietary, closed service like Shopify, Squarespace or Wix is not recommended.

Closed systems with smaller users bases don’t have the integration potential and ability to use best-in-class technologies like WordPress does.

Step #6: Site Enhancements
Include analytics, SEO and security features in the site.

By using WordPress these features are able to be installed quickly, easily, and in a wide variety of ways that lend themselves to the site’s unique requirements.

Themes Provide Design Potentials

Step #7: Pick a Theme
Choose a theme that matches the visual design expectations as closely as possible or create a customized theme.

Tip: Developers with stronger design skills like to choose feature rich themes, customizing them and configuring them to meet design requirements precisely.

Tip: Developers with smaller budgets and less ability to customize find that picking themes that come out of the box very close to the final site design.

Content & Page Creation

Step #8: Gather Content on Inventory to be Curated
Collect all the content and items to be published. This of course includes images of the works and artists.

Step #9: Categorize What’s Collected
Decide how things will be categorized. Popular methods of categorizing include: categorizing by age, categorizing by medium and categorizing by subject matter.

Step #10: Design Page Layouts
Design layout of the different page types intended to be part of the site. These include the homepage, artist biography pages, pages that list work and pages that feature individual works. Artist biography pages, featured works pages, category pages and newest works are examples of the types of pages that list work.

Step #11: Begin Page Creation
Start creating pages on either the live production site, on the final domain it will live on, or a staging site where the content will be moved to the final or “production” domain later.

Step #12: Create Pages for Organizations
Create pages that represent the organizational units that are involved in creating, promoting or showcasing the art and artists. Sometimes this is limited to a single gallery, but in other sites curating works the organizations may be as important as the artists themselves, like performing groups and musical bands. If work is being showcased at different locations by a single organization, or spread out among many locations belonging to many organizations it may be desirable to have pages in the site dedicated to them as well.

Step #13: Create Pages for Works
Create artwork pages for each work of art, performance, song etc. Add the details about the work and any photos of the piece. If there’s videos of the piece the videos should be embedded into the page. Each art work should be linked to its creators bio pages. Using a specific tool like Art Gallery Plugin for WordPress makes this easiest.

Step #14: Create Pages for Artists
Create artist bio pages for each artist. When artists have a lot of works it’s often not practical to show all of an artist’s work on their bio page. Showing a subset of an artist’s work common. It’s ideal if the artist’s page links in natural ways to all the works the artist created or co-created.

Art Gallery Website Development Post-Production

Step #15: Go Live!
When enough pre-publishing production work has been performed a point is reached when the site is deemed ready for the public. If the site was being built on a staging server then the content is moved to the production server.

The site is considered at this point “live” and in-production.

Step #16: Train the Curators
Train the ongoing stakeholders who will be maintaining the site in the future. This should include the gallery owner and curators. A basic understanding of how things are done is recommended at a minimum. Using an easy-to-learn and easy-to-operate content management system is key to long term sustainability and success

Step #17: Promotion
Promote the site in traditional ways: signage, on print materials, during events and any broadcast or PR opportunities.

Make sure the pages in the site are optimized for sharing on social media. WordPress users leverage a variety of Plugins for this purpse, each of which offers different benefits and approaches.

Step #18: Provide for the Removal of Pieces
Over time art works will need to be removed from the site. Removing pages from the site doesn’t make Google’s job easier running its search engine. Best practices therefore involve never unpublishing web pages completely. Pages that shouldn’t be shown to visitors should be unlinked from all other pages, indexes and menus. A content management system makes this process very manageable whereas trying to publishing a site without one makes this chore very cumbersome.