Buyers Weigh In: What Makes a Website Great

Buyers Weigh In: What Makes a Website Great

Your website is your most important business tool. In one click, potential clients can get a solid hold of what you do, including the products and services you provide, your speciality, your aesthetic, your brand, your personality, and more. But if your website doesn’t work for buyers – meaning they can’t grasp your brand, quickly get wowed by your work or easily search for images they need – then you’re doing something wrong. So we wanted to know straight from the source, what buyers want from a photography website.

Website: Lincoln Barbour

Website: Lincoln Barbour

In a recent survey, we heard from hundreds of photo buyers worldwide who work at advertising agencies, design agencies, non-profits, editorial publications, and corporations. We asked 34 questions including questions on their photo website likes and dislikes. We asked questions ranging from how much time they spend on a photographer’s site as they are searching to hire, devices they use to check your site out and so on.

We also asked, “Beyond the photographs, what are the most important elements of a photographer’s website?” Top answers were:

  • Easy navigation
  • Fast load time
  • Contact information
  • Ability to license imagery directly through his/her site

This means if your website is confusing and buyers can’t figure out how to get in touch with you, then you’ve likely missed out on a real opportunity. To help inform what part of your site you should tackle and improve first,  use a tool like Google Analytics to track which content is most compelling to new visitors and which content people hardly click on.

Stay tuned for the full survey results, coming out this October in our guide: 2013 Survey: What Buyers Want From Photographers.

PhotoShelter_Robin Moore

Website: Robin Moore

When we talked to photo buyers for last year’s survey, we also wanted to know what makes a photographer’s website outstanding. They told us they prefer sites that are simple and easy to navigate. Here’s a list of other top responses on what makes a great website:


  • Speed
  • Easy access to image archive
  • iPad/tablet compatible
  • No Flash
  • Quick download availability
2013-08-12_bloggraphicmagnified-2 copy

Website: Keith Bedford


  • Large, clear images
  • Well-sectioned
  • Intuitive
  • Evident branding
  • Uncluttered
  • Strong concept
  • Elegant
  • Thoughtful


  • Available contact links
  • No music
  • Large spread of thumbnails
  • Descriptive copy
  • Hint of personality
  • Clear client list & track record
  • Videos
  • Great key wording
  • Social media presence
  • Well-written blog
  • Concise
  • Testimonials
  • Humor

TIP: If your goal is to attract more buyers, than you need a website that’s optimized for SEO. That means no Flash-based sites and a strong focus on on-page factors like page titles and captions. Get tips in our guide to help bump your search engine rankings and increase traffic to your site. Read more.

Website: Andrew Strain

TIP: It’s hard work getting people to your website with all the distractions on the web. When you get attention from buyers checking out your site, you should make a point of trying to turn these passive visitors and potential into paying clients as often as possible. But to do that, you’re going to need a website that allows you to sell images. Don’t fall into the old trap of strictly using your website as an online portfolio. For tips on how to take advantage of ecommerce tools through your PhotoShelter site, check out the PhotoShelter In-Depth: A Tour of Our Products and Services.

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  1. Rhian White at 11:58 am

    This is all really great info and very useful. The one thing that my Photoshelter site does not do is enable me to price by gallery, rather than site-wide. I have different types of clients visit my site and I want to be able to offer prices according to who is visiting. It would be so useful to be able to price by gallery and I hope this is something that gets brought in soon.


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