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Author Topic: Good and bad web gallery designs  (Read 54002 times)
Chris_T
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« on: December 29, 2006, 09:04:29 AM »
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There appear to be quite a few suave web designers and programmers here. What are some photography web galleries that you consider to be "good" and "bad", and why?

The context here is not about a gallery's images, but rather how a gallery is designed in terms of information (gallery categories, image captions, image counts, etc.), presentation (thumbnails, enlargements, etc.), window size (fixed, fluid, scrolling, etc.), navigation (in particular from thumbnails to enlargements), colors and fonts, and last but not least security.

Please be as objective and subjective as you can. <g>
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Christopher
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« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2007, 07:49:49 AM »
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Ok let me say following. What is important ? Easy clear fast. Sorry but I hate flash gallerys which are slow like hell. For me images should open in a new window, but in that window there should be a strip mode to navigate through the selected gallery. Each gallery should consist out of 10-25 images but plz not 50...
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simonkit
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« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2007, 08:08:20 AM »
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Hi,

 I'm no expert but I also dislike sites with lots of flash - if the site is for photography I prefer the emphasis to be in the photographs themselves and not "flashy" menu options etc

 simon
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mikeseb
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« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2007, 09:57:01 AM »
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I'll second what the previous two resondents mentioned: ease of navigation with some kind of thumbnail or preview of each gallery's contents.

Please, no Flash or very minimal Flash that serves some obvious necessity.

NO MUSIC!! I've got an iPod of my own, thanks. I'll likely hate the whale-song or inspirational crap you've chosen. Nothing makes me click off faster than music.

[Departing from the gist of your question for a moment, into areas not directly related to site design: I'd make a personal plea to all photographers/website publishers to spare us long-winded philosophical musings in the "bio" or "artist's statement" sections. "Bio" means biography, and a concise one at that. Really, it probably doesn't matter until you are as famous as Edward Weston, anyway. End curmudgeonly New Year's rant! ]

The photography is foremost; the visitor shouldn't have to run a gantlet to enjoy it.
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michael sebastian
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plugsnpixels
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« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2007, 09:17:36 PM »
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On those few occasions where I need a gallery (usually to share photos with family), I use the free JAlbum. Easy to use and works great, with nice skins.

I agree with others in regards to use of Flash. It's a great technology, but on most websites its acrobatics just seems unnecessary ("Look at me, look at me!") and just slows visitors from accessing the info they came for in the first place. The technique is one step above the old useless "Enter" page.
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Brian Gilkes
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« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2007, 05:23:22 AM »
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All the information I  have says search engines do not read Flash.As well as music it is a real pain. If you want hits and don't want to really annoy people, don't use flash and don't use music.Use images that open fast. Include only useful and/or interesting information. Content is king. Sprinkle the key words that you hope people will use to find you in your headings and through the site.Update your site all the time.
You want inspiration? Analyse Luminous Landscape.
Cheers,
Brian
www.pharoseditions.com.au
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Chris_T
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« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2007, 08:52:47 AM »
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Ok let me say following. What is important ? Easy clear fast. Sorry but I hate flash gallerys which are slow like hell. For me images should open in a new window, but in that window there should be a strip mode to navigate through the selected gallery. Each gallery should consist out of 10-25 images but plz not 50...
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=93113\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Agreed, I don't like flash either. In fact, for my site, I try to eliminate the need for plugins, frames, etc. The goal is for the viewers to access and navigate my site *easily*.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2007, 09:19:03 AM by Chris_T » Logged
Chris_T
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« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2007, 09:17:53 AM »
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Hi,

 I'm no expert but I also dislike sites with lots of flash - if the site is for photography I prefer the emphasis to be in the photographs themselves and not "flashy" menu options etc

 simon
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

With all due respect, some comments on your site and mikeseb's site.

What I like (same comments for mikeseb's site also):

- Neutral colors for background
- Clean and concise navigation menu (a bit congested in mikeseb's case)
- Fixed design, which I think is better for image display
- Usable area is centered
- No vertical scroll necessary for a maximized window on my 19" monitor. (Some small amount of scrolling needed on mikeseb's site)

About Me page:

- Paragraphs not centered.

Galleries:

- Portrait thumbnails much bigger than landscape thumbnails. Why?
- Portrait thumbnails are grouped at the end and separate from the landscape thumbnails. Why? Ideally, I want my images sequenced in a particular order, and not dictated by their aspect ratios.

Many galleries tend to display the thumbnails on one page and an enlargement on a separate page. Once a viewer displays an enlargement, he is forced to view other enlargements sequentially, or have to go back to the thumbnails page to select a particular one.

My preference is to display a block of thumbnails and one enlargement, all on one page. This way, the viewers can have a top level view of the gallery (or part of it) and be able to select any thumbnail of his choice, all on one page. I think this is a much better way to navigate a gallery. The following pages are such designs, but they do have their own navigation problems though.

[a href=\"http://www.lezarimages.com/2939OrdwayPk.php]http://www.lezarimages.com/2939OrdwayPk.php[/url]

http://www.richardadamsphotography.com/Gal...gland/index.htm
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Chris_T
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« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2007, 09:32:57 AM »
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All the information I  have says search engines do not read Flash.As well as music it is a real pain. If you want hits and don't want to really annoy people, don't use flash and don't use music.Use images that open fast. Include only useful and/or interesting information. Content is king. Sprinkle the key words that you hope people will use to find you in your headings and through the site.Update your site all the time.
You want inspiration? Analyse Luminous Landscape.
Cheers,
Brian
www.pharoseditions.com.au
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

From what I understand, search engine hits are based on text and not images. For better hits, think text.

Some comments on one of your galleries:

[a href=\"http://www.pharoseditions.com.au/the_gallery/danielle_benson01.html]http://www.pharoseditions.com.au/the_galle...e_benson01.html[/url]

It has a thumbnail block and an enlargement on the same page. But unlike the two examples I sited, the thumbnail block is horizontal. This eats up a page's vertical real estate, which is more precious than the horizontal real estate on a regular monitor. This is particularly problematic for displaying a portrait enlargement *and* eliminating the need of vertical scrolling.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2007, 09:38:01 AM by Chris_T » Logged
mikeseb
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« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2007, 10:01:54 AM »
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With all due respect, some comments on your site and mikeseb's site.

Chris, I appreciate your feedback. Don't want to hijack your thread here.
I agree with your assessment of my site's navigational difficulties; I wrestled with the thumbnail layout and have tweaked it repeatedly based on some customers' feedback. I like your suggested layout best of all.

My sites problems are twofold in origin: my inadequacies as a web designer, and the narrow range of design choices presented to me by the template-based hosting service I use. I'll likely upgrade the site to a custom design when I can justify it business-wise. Compromises we must all make, eh?

Good luck with yours, and thanks again.
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michael sebastian
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« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2007, 10:13:28 AM »
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The technique is one step above the old useless "Enter" page.
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

As far as I know, the 'Enter' page isn't useless. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but most search engines still don't handle frames very well. I therefore have a non-frames 'Enter' page with some text, keywords and non-frame links to non-frame pages that are intended for robots, not real people. Real people can just click on 'Enter' which leads them to the frames version, which I hope is very easy to navigate.

And I agree - Flash is a nr. 1 attention killer for me. I use no flash whatsoever.

Gerard Kingma
[a href=\"http://www.kingma.nu]www.kingma.nu[/url]
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john beardsworth
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« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2007, 11:28:30 AM »
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My preference is to display a block of thumbnails and one enlargement, all on one page. This way, the viewers can have a top level view of the gallery (or part of it) and be able to select any thumbnail of his choice, all on one page. I think this is a much better way to navigate a gallery.

While there's a lot to be said for this filmstrip / main image principle (which you see in Lightroom and Aperture for instance), the problem is that the thumbnails distract from the main image or are so small that they are effectively useless for navigation. There's no easy compromise - other than using a Flash galleries that enlarge the thumbnails upon cursor rollover... upon reflection, there's no easy compromise.

On the other point, search engines are OK with frames - Enter pages just make the site look like it was designed in the pre Dotcom days when it seemed obligatory to annoy your visitors with "Best viewed with Internet Explorer" or "Made with Mac" buttons.

John
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Chris_Brown
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« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2007, 12:11:59 PM »
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And I agree - Flash is a #1 attention killer for me. I use no flash whatsoever.

I used to feel the same way, but after six months of on/off attempts to write my own php gallery, I decided to try a Flash site and have recieved more compliments than any other site I've had.

Here are a couple of examples of Flash used well to produce a quick loading gallery:
Fluid Galleries
SimpleViewer

The biggest benefit to Flash galleries is the prevention of copying images, which helps protect against copyright infringement. Of course, one can still do a "screen grab" but not with the same results as copying the image file from server to client computer.

With Flash galleries you need to make sure your meta tags and meta data is concise & accurate and you'll need to tweak it to get the best search results (or else just advertise with Google & Yahoo!).

Then, there are php galleries. Here are a few php galleries:
Menalto Gallery
Simple Gallery v2
Qdig
Copper Mine (the grand-daddy of 'em all)

A php gallery uses a MySQL database and its greatest benefit is the ability to include IPTC data, captions and searchable key words (for those of us that sell stock photography).

The greatest benefit to a php gallery is that it's dynamic server side programming. Everything is executed on the server and the html is generated on-the-fly. No plug-ins, browser extensions or Java is needed. The browser can be Windows, Mac, Unix, or even Blackberry. Pages load as fast as your server can generate them.

Another benefit is that you can add and delete images and/or folders of images and the php script will change the site as the content changes. This makes gallery generation while working on location a breeze.

My old php site is here.
My current Flash site is here.

Both are pared down to simplify browsing.
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john beardsworth
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« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2007, 12:17:39 PM »
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The biggest benefit to Flash galleries is the prevention of copying images, which helps protect against copyright infringement. Of course, one can still do a "screen grab" but not with the same results as copying the image file from server to client computer.

Screen grabs can be identical, so that's no protection. But the Flash gallery does help mask the images' location and makes it tougher for someone to serve your pics in their site. Then again, an htaccess file can stop that.

John
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plugsnpixels
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« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2007, 12:30:23 PM »
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Screen grabs can be identical, so that's no protection. But the Flash gallery does help mask the images' location and makes it tougher for someone to serve your pics in their site. Then again, an htaccess file can stop that.

John
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Exactly. Your images are probably 72ppi, and the screenshot will be the same res. But as John says, preventing hotlinking might be the main avantage. I find sites doing that with my plug-in screenshots. So I swap the original source images for those pages to keep the layout intact and replace the hotlinked images with ones [a href=\"http://www.forumempire.com/viewtopic.php?t=43794&highlight=adobe+photoshop]overlaid with a little blurb[/url]!
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John.Murray
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« Reply #15 on: January 02, 2007, 12:31:48 PM »
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I'll also side *against* any flash based sites for 2 reasons:

Unacceptable load time for users with slow internet connections
Lack of alternate (ie: keyboard based) navigation
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Christopher
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« Reply #16 on: January 02, 2007, 12:34:23 PM »
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Ok, I think it really depends for what you use the gallery. if it's a portfolio page with only a few images and gallery FLASH is brillinat and wonderful. You'll never get such nice pages without it. BUT if you have lot's of images want to sell prints, then plz DON'T use flash. It's to slow and I hate to navigate through a lot of galleries and pictures.

Fluid Galleries is nice, but I think it has the same problems stated aboth. Just nice for a portfolio.
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Chris_Brown
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« Reply #17 on: January 02, 2007, 12:38:35 PM »
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Screen grabs can be identical, so that's no protection.

Screen grabs don't have correct ICC data nor any IPTC data. That's all been stripped out. At least, on the Flash sites I've checked.

For example, the images on my site all use the new, v2 sRGB profiles with BPC, but if I do a screen grab, the images open in PS with my monitor profile. In addition, there is no IPTC data in the screen grab, while the original images have it.
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« Reply #18 on: January 02, 2007, 12:42:02 PM »
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So I swap the original source images for those pages to keep the layout intact and replace the hotlinked images with ones overlaid with a little blurb!
Hey! Pretty cool!  

I prevent hot linking with a script on my server. It's set up so that only specific URLs can access image folders. So far, it seems to be working.
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john beardsworth
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« Reply #19 on: January 02, 2007, 12:43:55 PM »
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Well if I were stealing an image, I'd want to flush the IPTC, and colour managed browsers aren't exactly ubiquitous.... Flash raises the cost in time of nicking your pics, but that's not enough of a reason for using it.
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