Website Design For Creatives: What You Need for Your Online Portfolio

As a professional in the entertainment industry—whether it’s theatre or film, or both—you know the importance of a first impression.

While most of your work takes place in person (on stage, in the audition room, around a writing table) just like any profession, you need a stellar website. Whether you’re an actress, producer, writer, or choreographer, it’s important to work with a website designer that understands your industry.

You need a website to represent you and your potential as accurately and spectacularly as possible. Keep reading to learn about website design for creatives.

Five Tips on Website Design for Creatives

#1 Hire a Professional

You wouldn’t ask a website designer to direct an episode of Law & Order, and a website designer wouldn’t ask you to design your own website. First, you’re too busy. Second, you’re not a professional website designer (unless you are… in that case, go ahead!).

When you lean on the pros, you don’t have to worry about getting it right on your own. Your job goes from overwhelming to simple: help the website design team get to know you, your unique talents, your personal accomplishments, and your intimate dreams for the future. And watch them do the magic.

Behind every great website is a team of dedicated and talented creators. A collaborative team of writers, designers, and developers all work together to create websites. In a typical website design process, there will be a copywriting, designing, and development phase, that all combine to create the new website.

#2 Focus on the Future

Tony Howell is a website designer who specializes in creating websites for actors, directors, producers, and other professionals in the entertainment industry. When it comes to website design for creatives, he recommends one piece of advice over all the rest: Focus on the future, rather than the past.

“Artists tend to have seasonal employment. Because of this, their websites are often focused on their past—as if they have something to prove. One of the ideas I try to instill is to have your website focused on the future. My mantra is ‘Honor your past. Present your present. Design OUR future!’” – Tony Howell

Focusing too heavily on the past can make your website feel like an obituary. It’s not about how many plays you have been in or how many appearances on a sitcom you have. It’s impressive, sure, but ultimately you won’t be cast in the next opportunity because you’ve been in fifteen productions. You’ll attract interest by inspiring your audience (casting directors, agents, fans, you name it), and getting them excited about the future that you and your individuality can bring.

On the website for Orange Is the New Black actress and advocate Laverne Cox, the homepage draws in the viewer with an inspiring quote: “My life changed when I realized I deserve to be seen, to dream, to be fully included, always striving to bring my full humanity.” 

Off the bat, the viewer understands that Cox’s work is more than just about adding another credit to her growing filmography. Cox’s work is about being fully seen, and in doing so creating visibility for other Trans people and creatives around the world. Her message instills hope and ignites dreams in other people. What is your work about? Rather than trying to prove your worth on your website, what message do you want to tell your audience?

#3 Be Yourself 

There’s no more profound way to put it: You have everything you need already to shine and make a strong impression. Yes, there is competition. But surely you’re used to that. Just like in the intense, make-or-break world of show business, you have to believe in yourself and showcase your individuality to get anywhere.

Tony Howell shares, “While there will always be people who deliver the same product as you, who you are as a person and your process is one-of-a-kind. The best way to stand out is to become (or share) more of yourself. Be sure to blend authenticity with strategy. You need both!”

To be yourself, you need website copy, design, and photography that showcases your unique personality (more so than a static headshot!). 

If you need new photos for your website, check out photographers Lesley Bohm and Nick Onken.

#4 Play With Opposites

While you are special enough on your own, there’s always something to be said for the magic of marketing. As Howell explains:

“The second best way to stand out is to play with opposites. You can call it a blue ocean, purple cow, or chiaroscuro. Find your blend of exceeding expectations alongside delivering innovations.”

#5 Just Like You, Your Website Will Evolve

Repeat that one out loud to yourself.

While you will be hiring a professional to help you with your website, don’t expect the website to be “done” once it’s up and running. Your website will evolve because you evolve. If you “set it and forget it,” you will lose out on amazing opportunities.

Just ask Tony: “I often place my face super close to my webcam and share, ‘Your website will NEVER be FINISHED or PERFECT!!!’ People often think websites are a one-and-done [effort], so I make sure clients and students have recurring appointments in their calendars. When it’s time for a ‘Marketing Meeting,’ you see if you have anything to add to your website or share with your audience. Otherwise, poke around your analytics and look for insights!”

It’s important to create websites for fluidity and evolution so that you can make the best of future opportunities and feel excited about new iterations of your digital presence (without needing a website redesign every time you up-level in your career).  

Get The Website of Your Dreams

While websites will evolve as you grow, you can get your website to the point where you love it so much you want to share it with the world. And watch as it brings you everything you’re searching for—auditions, producer deals, lead roles, and beyond.

It’s your live business card, your breathing CV—an extension of you and the magic you bring to the theatre community.

If you’re ready to get the magic started, connect with Alchemy + Aim.