Your DIY Website: The Guide Every Actor Needs

Having a website is essential for your marketing package as an actor, but no one ever tells you how to design a website. The unfortunate reality is that a lot of self (and surprisingly, designer !! ) designed websites can end up looking messy and amateur. If you want to DIY your own website and make it stand out, here are some of my top tips that no one talks about. Before I start, remember my motto as a designer: Human first, actor second.

Wix or Squarespace?

There’s no right answer for this. Both are good hosting platforms, but equally flawed.

Squarespace: If you want to completely DIY but don’t have a great aesthetic eye, go with Squarespace. The reason I say this is because their standard templates are 150% better than Wix’s. You also don’t have to worry about manually fixing up your mobile site because it’s already automatically optimized for mobile. However, Squarespace can be tricky and frustrating to use at first – so be patient. A lot of Squarespace websites can also come out a little bland in my opinion if you don’t add extra things to spruce it up.

Wix: If you have an impeccable aesthetic eye, go with Wix. Key word is impeccable. There is a lot more creativity due to the drag-and-drop feature. For this reason, it also makes the platform a little too customisable, which means it’s extremely easy for your site to look messy and amateur.

Colours

Avoid overly bright colours. There are some bright colours such as yellow and orange that work, but I’m talking about bright greens, bright pinks, bright blues, bright purples. The type of bright colours we used to all use on MSN/AIM messenger. It’s generally hard to make it work unless it’s tailored for a very specific type of actor. Other specific colours that make me want to cry: salmon pink, hyperlink blue, magenta, bright purple.

Font Pairings

Choosing fonts can make or break any website. Mix & match the fonts for your headings and paragraphs. If you use a serif font (think Times New Roman) for your heading, try using a sans serif font (think Arial) for your actual text in your paragraphs. This will give your website some texture.

The only fonts I approve on Wix – everything else is a no go: Avenir, Avenir Light, Cormorant, EB Garamond, Helvetica series, Linotype Didot, Lulo Clean, Lucida Console, Playfair Display series, Poppin series and Proxima Nova. I know what you want to ask me… but what about Futura and Brandon Grotesque? My answer is… the specific type face Wix has for both these fonts are great Microsoft Word fonts, not website fonts.

Squarespace fonts have more variety and are cleaner fonts. Contrary to what I said above, Futura’s type face on Squarespace is different from Wix’s and it’s actually great to use. You want to use fonts that are proportional both length & width wise. Nothing too narrow, nothing too wide.

Bold Cursive Fonts

Avoid bold cursive fonts. They’re not fun to look at because it makes your website chunky. Cursive fonts are supposed to be sophisticated and add a layer of elegance. If your cursive font is not elegant, don’t use it.

Transparency/Opacity

Too much or too little opacity on anything on your website can make your website look sketchy. Too much opacity means when you hover an image and there’s a ‘faded’ effect over it. Too little opacity means when you purposefully make your navigation bar see through. Don’t do it. It’s sketchy.

Your Home Page

I want to see your name and face. That’s the main goal of the home page. I want to be introduced to what you look like first, so I can put a face to the bio I will be reading about.

About Page

AKA personality page. I find the best formula for an about page is usually a side by side layout: a lifestyle picture and your bio. Contrary to what you might have heard, your bio should be fun! As a viewer, I don’t really want to re-read the exact same thing I can read on your resume, so try not to list more than 2 credits on there. I want to know what you are like as a person. What do you do in your spare time? What hobbies do you enjoy? We want to get to know you, because the more we get to know you, the more we want to work with you. See how that works?

Resumes

100% of the actor websites I have revamped have a page specifically for their resume. Why?! In my opinion, this 1) is a waste of a tab, and 2) the preview of the resume itself makes your website look incohesive (unless your resume looks like this). So, make a downloadable button attaching your resume in a PDF file, and call it a day. Put that button under your bio. Those who want to look at your resume will find the button, trust me.

News

A lot of actors love having a current news section. The cleanest way to do this is to just list it –

Project #1
Brief description of project.

Project #2
Brief description of project.

If you want pictures, I would 80% of the time do a horizontal square grid picture format and then list the news underneath. Make sure everything is perfectly aligned.

Headshots

In my opinion, the most headshots you should put on your website before it starts to feel overwhelming is 6. You should opt for 6 only if you have type specific shots (i.e. doctor, lawyer, serial killer etc.). Otherwise, if they’re all just of you looking stunning in different tops, 2 will suffice.

Gallery

This page is the trickiest of them all. Avoid masonry/collage type displays unless they’re symmetrical in their asymmetry (Viv…what does this even mean?!…I know what I’m talking about). Otherwise, it’s better to stick with a grid layout. Make sure all the pictures are cropped the same so that it looks consistent, whether it be square or rectangular. There is nothing more aesthetically displeasing than to go to a gallery page where the pictures are all over the place, not aligned with each other. It’s instant chaos. You want to avoid that. If you are on Squarespace, especially make use of the gallery feature.

I would also avoid slideshow galleries unless your pictures are 90% similar in style (colouring/content) & quality. If you have a mix of professional performance shots and BTS shots, either separate them, or don’t opt for the slideshow option. Don’t display your headshots or outdoor lifestyle pictures in a slideshow option either – it never works, in my opinion.

Videos

I’m a fan of putting 2 videos side by side (especially for Squarespace) so that the viewer isn’t overwhelmed by a gigantic video thumbnail on their screen. If you must put 1 video, take advantage of the spacer feature in Squarespace to make it smaller. I’m also a big fan of cover photos for consistency. Cover photos as simple as a coloured background with the title of your video (in a font consistent with your website font) will suffice.

Contact Page

The contact page is another personality page in my opinion. Put a fun picture up and make sure your form actually works!

Align Everything

I literally cannot stress this enough. Align everything. EVERYTHING. That’s the secret to a clean website; this is why Squarespace has a reputation of being ‘clean,’ because they don’t have a drag and drop feature, just editing blocks that already naturally helps you align things.

Okay, thanks for coming to my Ted Talk. I hope this was helpful. (I know this was helpful. I’ll always be your aesthetic queen.)

Check out my website. For more information about website design, click here.

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