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Author Topic: Squarespace for photographers  (Read 13386 times)
simplify
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« on: January 06, 2011, 06:07:22 PM »
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Hello everyone,
I have just used SquareSpace to build a new website, and it is an amazing and easy to use tool.  I checked out FolioLink and Livebooks, but didn't want to fork over the money.  Squarespace is only 20 bucks a month for the plan I am on, and I was able to import my blogs over from different websites seamlessly into my new website with squarespace.
Tell me what you all think about my new site, and I encourage you to give squarespace a try, it seems very revolutionary to me, and very cool.
http://johnpauljespersen.squarespace.com

P.S.  Almost all of the images on my site are shot with a PhaseOne P45+ and Hasselblad V bodies.
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Justinr
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« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2011, 06:22:09 AM »
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Mmmmm..... Yet another revolutionary CMS service.  I find that I have the same problem with all content management system and that is lack of flexibility and constraints upon creativity. They all seem wonderful to begin with but after a few months you start to get bored with it and would like to perhaps change this or that or alter something else but the template design system hems you in. I used to do things this way then gradually taught myself the basics of HTML and with the help of MS Expression Web I now build my own from scratch, indeed I now build simple sites for other people so far from costing me it has become an earner.

I'm no IT expert by any means so if I can do it then plenty of others surely can and let's not forget that CMS can be as complex as HTML. I use Wordpress to embed news blogs in sites but I cannot get my head around building a multi page site with the thing and the support forum 'community' would appear to be off their heads on herbal tobacco half the time.

Edit.  Just been back to have another look at the site and as commendable as the images are, and I do like the clean cut style which draws attention to the purity and minimalistic approach to the framing of the subject, I see that some of them disappear off the bottom of the page and all the ones I checked were around the 190kb file size which is fine if you have good broadband connectivity, which alas we don't so the pictures can take time to load, not a long time, but enough for fidgeting to set in whilst waiting. I know that the larger the file size the better the picture should appear but the web is the very worst place to display photos anyway due to the complete lack of control over viewing conditions. I test my sites over 5 different browsers, the 2 major operating systems and 3 different screens and the variation on how each combination interprets and displays identical code is really rather alarming, and that's before we consider how the viewer might have their own screen set up (or not) and what sort of device it is.   

One other point, the font size on your biography is very small and all but unreadable on my rather standard 17 inch screen.

Hope I've not come across as too miserable a git.

Justin.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2011, 06:50:25 AM by Justinr » Logged

kikashi
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« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2011, 03:27:59 PM »
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Hope I've not come across as too miserable a git.
There's some pretty stiff competition for the post of "resident miserable git" on this site!

Jeremy
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Justinr
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« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2011, 03:41:23 PM »
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There's some pretty stiff competition for the post of "resident miserable git" on this site!

Jeremy

I'm working on it.  Cheesy
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tom b
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« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2011, 05:29:16 PM »
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Jeanpaul to start with I like your images and the graphic design of your site is clean and stylish.

Justin has pointed out some basic problems with your sit.

Most sites are deigned to fit into 1024x768 screen without scrolling. Your site falls down in this respect but not in a major way. You have to scroll to the see the copyright when I set Firefox to 1024x768 on my Mac and yes images disappear off the bottom of the screen.

The fonts are small on the CV page but a command + fixes that up, no biggie.

What made me comment was a more disturbing feature of your site. When I clicked on your name at the top of the splash page it took me to a totally different navigation system. This is an image of building and 4 links underneath. Click on a link and it brings up a duplicate slide show to the one in the splash page only this time in Autoviewer. The slide show works well and resizes images so they fit on the page.

I have a few problems with this:

Why are there two different slide show/gallery methods showing the same images?

Why is the no obvious link to the Autoview slide shows on the splash page?

How do you get back to the main splash page from the Autoview page?

The Home button at the top of the Autoview slide shows takes you back to the start of the Autoview alternative splash page not the main splash page that you would expect to see. In the main navigation, Home takes you back to the main splash page.

These are small problems that should be able to be fixed without too much effort. My main problem however revolves around how expandable your design is. If you are just going to have four galleries then there is no problem but if you are going to have a larger number of galleries I would be thinking about what type of navigation you will be having.

I have had four major redesigns of my web site over the years and I'm now thinking about my fifth, so I'm well aware of the problems involved in designing a site.

As I said you have the basis of a very cool site. You just have to get the basics right.

Good luck!

Cheers,
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simplify
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« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2011, 06:56:28 PM »
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Thanks for all the advice guys, exactly what I wanted.  I will be fixing the issues asap, for some reason the banner is linking to my old site.  And I will definitely change the size of the vertical images.
All in all I am pretty proud of the design considering I did it all in less than two hours.
Keep the advice coming if you see anything else funky,
Thanks again,
JP
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Justinr
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« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2011, 09:47:22 AM »
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All in all I am pretty proud of the design considering I did it all in less than two hours.

And therein lies another problem with CMS, yes it may look cool and clean etc but so do any one of a million other sites built with similar fast loading templates, at the end of the day they all look the same.

Johnpaul, I'm not knocking your excellent photography at all, just suggesting that you stand back and ask yourself why should anybody remember your site above all others? Apart from the quality of the work it is utterly indistinctive from thousands of similar websites. Will your ability with a camera drag the site up out of the morass or will your work be dragged down by the monotony of yet more clean white pages with a dinky little slideshow thingy along the top? No doubt you spend considerable time ensuring that your photography is distinctive and is of your individual style; what does the website say about you?

BTW, just one small and immediate improvement might be the addition of a very thin black border around the images, it will help stop them bleeding into the background.

Justin.
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simplify
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« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2011, 12:30:40 PM »
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I would have to disagree with you justin.
I hate sites that are overdone and fancy.  I click through hundreds of artists sites every month, and all I want to see is their work in a easy to navigate simplified manner.  I hate when there are pop down menus and other things that make it difficult to find what I want to see on their site.  I love sites that have a list of portfolios on the first page and all you have to do is start clicking the portfolio titles to  see the work, which is all I want to see.  I could care less how an artists website looks, as long as I can see their work as soon as possible without having to do too many clicks.  Its all about the work to me.  I am not going to fall in love with somebodies work because their website impresses me.

Ps, the dinky little slide show thingy is my old site, and now clicking at the top will not take you there.
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simplify
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« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2011, 12:33:36 PM »
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Justin,  I just looked at your site.  I don't think I can take any advice from you, sorry.
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Justinr
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« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2011, 02:20:34 PM »
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Meeow!

Whatever JP, but I'd still ditch the white background, it competes far too much for the eyes attention. Oh, and I hate pop ups as well for exactly the same reasons as you.

Something to think over though,  here is one person who is fed up with the same old website formula, if there is one that mentions it how many are there that think it? And just because you approach websites in a specific way does not mean to say everybody does. You may be right though, your site could well tick all the boxes for your target audience, I hope it does, and that is all that matters at the end of the day. On the other hand.....
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tom b
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« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2011, 03:19:03 PM »
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I did a 10 week, 3 hour per night web design course for photographers. There was about a dozen of us in the course. It was a CSS course, building a site from scratch.

At the end of the course half had dropped out and I was the only one who put up a couple of pages. This was after I had two different versions of my site up already using tables and then frames.

Most photographer just want their site up and running. Communities like Joomla and WordPress just make the process easier. The success of a template depends more on the designer than the code behind the pages.

Every good web site will have some sort of template behind it so that navigation will be consistent and predictable.

Anyway Jeanpaul it's good to see that the problem was just a lousy link.

My only gripe now is that I'm not a click, click click… person. At the minimum I'd prefer to use arrow keys to view a gallery. Preferably I just want to hit the play button or even better still have the slide show play automatically when you open the page.

Cheers,

 

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Justinr
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« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2011, 03:43:43 PM »
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True, all sites do depend on templates to a certain degree and the first part of any site that I create is the Menu template and then hang everything off that. I am though totally self taught with trial and error, a few books, and lurking around web designer forums being my main resources. Not only is being self taught considered a cardinal sin amongst many web designers but I use tables to structure a page rather than CSS. I have had the argument many a time that such a method is so yesterday but it's quick and it works and I don't fall under the prescriptive and somewhat limiting diktats of W3C.

My own site is a fairly early one and needs completely turning on its head, people come to it to look at the events page not because they are wanting a photographer, that is done by word of mouth around these parts and a website is completely out of the loop for generating leads.

Anyway, here is one that I did last year and am presently updating, It has a style which I believe matches the cause and I've tried to include as many images as I can- www.tipprally.com There aren't many like it, which some may consider a good thing!
« Last Edit: January 08, 2011, 03:58:06 PM by Justinr » Logged

simplify
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« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2011, 05:49:41 PM »
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good advice tom, i don't usually like auto playing slide shows, but it is an option I can easily select for my picture galleries, maybe I will try it out.
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tom b
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« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2011, 06:11:17 PM »
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I've just purchased a copy of Capture photography magazine to read while I got my lunch (great Indian thali). In it was a list of inspirational photographers web sites.

I looked up the first twenty sites and I can tell you that only four had user friendly portfolios. How many clicks does it take to be turned off a site. Unless you really want to be at a site I can tell you it isn't many. One flash site didn't work at all and my computer is only four months old.

A slide show that preloads images just makes the viewing experience much more enjoyable. Somehow I think that vanity plays a part. The photographer thinks, with all that dross out there, someone entering my site will linger lovingly over each image.

Cheers,
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usathyan
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« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2011, 08:17:37 PM »
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I like it...looks pretty good to me...looks like a regular custom designed site...I am sure this is HTML5 and can be viewed on an apple device with no flash right?
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« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2011, 08:29:53 PM »
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I like it...looks pretty good to me...looks like a regular custom designed site...I am sure this is HTML5 and can be viewed on an apple device with no flash right?

While Flash should die, iPhones and iPads are not (yet) killing it. I just checked my site's stats, and only 2% of users are from those platforms.
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tom b
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« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2011, 08:44:45 PM »
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Looks fine on my iPad, though same height problems.

I've been looking at different solutions for my next site redesign. One option is Joomla and I took a look at their Community Photography Showcase here:

http://community.joomla.org/showcase/sites/arts/photography.html

You just have to look through the first half dozen sites to understand what works and what doesn't.

Cheers,
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simplify
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« Reply #17 on: January 08, 2011, 09:20:17 PM »
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One of the main reasons for the re-design was to ditch the flash, and have a site that looks good on iphone and ipad.  Mainly for my parents.  Their iphone's and ipads are pretty much the only way they browse the web.
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Justinr
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« Reply #18 on: January 09, 2011, 04:56:09 AM »
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Before creating any website we should be deciding upon its purpose and then designing it from there. We therefore need to ask some questions along the following lines-

- Who is the target audience?
- What information do I wish to convey?
- What is the immediate impression I want to present?
- Is the site to be predominately active in generating a response or passive in simply supplying data/images? 
- What mood is to be suggested by the colour scheme?
- Which age group are you aiming to cater for mostly?
- Is the site to be data rich or image rich?

And so on.

Very few people actually stop to ask these sort of questions thinking that a website is just a website rather than a reflection upon their approach to the matter in hand. I have had numerous approaches from potential customers who want a website, fine I say, what do you want to put on it? And that point they beat a hasty retreat. Website content does not magically materialise from the ether, it needs thinking about.

Now JP, it seems that your overriding concern is that your mom and dad can see it on their Igadgets, in which case the site probably works extremely well but you must pardon the rest of the world if they appear to be less than impressed at times.

Just trying to help.
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« Reply #19 on: January 09, 2011, 08:00:45 AM »
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Now JP, it seems that your overriding concern is that your mom and dad can see it on their Igadgets, in which case the site probably works extremely well but you must pardon the rest of the world if they appear to be less than impressed at times.

By "rest of the world" you certainly mean "me."

His site is quite good and displays the (very good) images nicely.
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