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Author Topic: How should a website look  (Read 10034 times)
sanfairyanne
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« on: September 06, 2013, 09:32:35 AM »
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I wonder if I can get some opinions. I have written a website which is far from perfect. I have the opinion that there are millions of Zenfolio type websites great pictures (or not) on a white or black background. I feel that if a website is to stand out the site itself has to be memorable, I believe in having some kind of design behind the images. I'm quite fond on a website by a guy called Michael Andersen or Marc Adamus. Both these sites have interesting designs. I wonder if anyone has an opinion, a friend tells me to look at the Apple website as his example of basic, but to me there is only one
Apple site, whereas there are a million photo websites, this is why I fee a site has to stand out and cannot just rely on the quality of the photographs.

Any opinions would be very much appreciated.
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jjj
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« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2013, 10:08:08 AM »
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What makes a photography website memorable is the images and having a pared down/minimal website is a pretty good way of letting one's images stand out.
The most amazing design in the world doesn't mean a thing if the images are a bit meh!

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sanfairyanne
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« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2013, 10:16:23 AM »
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Totally I agree, you have to have fantastic images, but I truly believe there are so many photographers with fantastic images that you need more than the images themselves to make your site stand out.
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jjj
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« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2013, 11:26:29 AM »
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Don't forget that phones and tablets are increasingly the way people go online these days - not a lot of room for any website chrome on small devices.
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sanfairyanne
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« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2013, 11:35:35 AM »
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Certainly that is a huge thing to think about. I'm going to come up with something today that will allow the use of smaller screens.
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LoisWakeman
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« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2013, 03:49:29 PM »
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Outstanding photos have to be #1, and a way to get engagement with the audience has to be #2. The chrome is, I think, largely irrelevant as long as it doesn't get in the way of reading the words and looking at the images.

Anyone who's overly impressed by the design isn't paying attention to the content.
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sanfairyanne
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« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2013, 04:22:17 PM »
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Well this is certainly not a request that anyone look at the site because it's barely got a few images on it but I just chose a basic background image that looks like carbon fibre. The site is www.andrewwaddington.com

Previously I had a mountain image that was quite dark but perhaps confused the home page.
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rgs
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« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2013, 12:04:04 AM »
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There is a lot to like on your site and it seems to function quickly and cleanly. If you will permit a little criticism, the background is a bit distracting but not overly so until...scrolling through your galleries makes me dizzy. The moving thumbs and static background just fight against each other.
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sanfairyanne
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« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2013, 10:23:32 AM »
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Thanks for the comment, you're right I don't have the ability to do much about that, this is a Wordpress theme so there's only so much I can do.
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jferrari
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« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2013, 10:34:53 PM »
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Which Wordpress theme?
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sanfairyanne
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« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2013, 10:42:21 PM »
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Modularity Lite, I hear it is 2 years old and has not been updated. I worry that it won't run with newer versions of WP. Truth is I don't know how to change over.
It's not broken right now so I won't try to fix it but when it goes under I'll have to get organized.
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RFPhotography
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« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2013, 09:07:15 AM »
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It's an ongoing issue.  How to make a website that will attract viewers.  I think that's a bit of a backward way to look at it.  You have to attract the viewers through your marketing efforts.  Then, when they come to your website, make it as visually appealing as possible.

The reason, I believe, that most photography websites are darker themed is because photos tend to look better on a dark background.  Lighter backgrounds make the image appear a bit washed out.  Darker backgrounds make the image 'pop' more.

I think simple is better than complex.  Lots of stuff moving around or flashing on the page is distracting.  I've got a simple, non-Flash slideshow on my homepage but it can be stopped.  Image galleries are automated but there's a fair amount of time between images so it's not overpowering and those too can be stopped.  I'm not saying my site is the pinnacle of photography-themed site design.  It's absolutely not.  These are just a few things I've gleaned over the years from trying to figure out answers to the same questions you have.  Still looking too.  Smiley  Mine used to be very dark.  Too dark.  It was heavy.  Now, with the lighter interface with darker accents and the dark borders on images in the viewer, I think I'm getting closer to a better balance.

As someone else said, mobile integration is key.  Either choose a theme that has mobile integration built in or use a plugin to convert your site for mobile display.  One I've used in the past and found quite good is WPTouch.  The current theme I'm using has mobile integration built-in. 

The issue you can run into with Wordpress is that if you heavily customise your theme, you may lose those customisations when the theme is updated.  That's the problem I have now.  I'm a few iterations behind in my theme because it's so heavily modified.  I've tried just copying the stylesheet but that doesn't address everything so I live with the older them coding.
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jjj
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« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2013, 09:29:11 AM »
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It's an ongoing issue.  How to make a website that will attract viewers.  I think that's a bit of a backward way to look at it.  You have to attract the viewers through your marketing efforts.  Then, when they come to your website, make it as visually appealing as possible.
Absolutely. It's basically an online portfolio, which in reality is extremely unlikely to get noticed amongst the millions of photography websites out there - unless you direct people there.

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The reason, I believe, that most photography websites are darker themed is because photos tend to look better on a dark background.  Lighter backgrounds make the image appear a bit washed out.  Darker backgrounds make the image 'pop' more.
Yet prints on black backgrounds are rarely done as they don't work as well as on white. I've opted for white with slim borders on each shot.

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I think simple is better than complex.  Lots of stuff moving around or flashing on the page is distracting. 
As are lurid rainbow backgrounds and headers, oh wait...
 Wink

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As someone else said, mobile integration is key.  Either choose a theme that has mobile integration built in or use a plugin to convert your site for mobile display. 

That was me, but what I forgot to mention is that ones images must be able to adapt to different sized screens. The one size image fits all simply does not work when there is such a variety of screen sizes that your work can be displayed on. At back end of my website, I have a content management system [CMS] that downsizes and sharpens images to suit screen size. This means they should look sharp whether on a phone or on a large monitor.
Though I am currently looking to change my own website to be something more than just a portfolio site, but I've not found a solution I'm completely happy with yet. Mainly to do with getting a CMS as good as I currently use.
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RFPhotography
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« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2013, 09:56:57 AM »
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Yet prints on black backgrounds are rarely done as they don't work as well as on white.

In part that's the difference between a reflective and backlit image.  Prints may not be made on black paper but it is very common to see dark frames and dark matting.  With, sometimes, a small border of white or lighter coloured mat. 

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I've opted for white with slim borders on each shot.

So you have.  Are you suggesting that yours is the pinnacle of photography website design?  We should all use your design due to its perfection?  A selfie?  Really?   Roll Eyes

Quote
As are lurid rainbow backgrounds and headers, oh wait...
 Wink

Was that really necessary?  Did you have to make that statement to come across as a complete asshole?  Oh, wait.... 
 
Quote
That was me, but what I forgot to mention is that ones images must be able to adapt to different sized screens. The one size image fits all simply does not work when there is such a variety of screen sizes that your work can be displayed on. At back end of my website, I have a content management system [CMS] that downsizes and sharpens images to suit screen size. This means they should look sharp whether on a phone or on a large monitor.
Though I am currently looking to change my own website to be something more than just a portfolio site, but I've not found a solution I'm completely happy with yet. Mainly to do with getting a CMS as good as I currently use.


Yes, that's part of the mobile integration. 
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jjj
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« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2013, 09:06:20 AM »
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Yet prints on black backgrounds are rarely done as they don't work as well as on white. I've opted for white with slim borders on each shot.
So you have.  Are you suggesting that yours is the pinnacle of photography website design?  We should all use your design due to its perfection? 
Someone got out the wrong side of bed today it would seem. No I simply said what I used, nowhere did I saw everyone should do the same, but it seems here as in the other thread where you resorted to a foul mouthed tirade you have problems reading people's posts and respond poorly as a result.

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A selfie?  Really?   Roll Eyes
Struggling to parse photos too, no selfies on my site. Roll Eyes There is a portrait of me demonstrating the rule of thirds, however it's very obviously taken by someone else.


Quote
Quote
As are lurid rainbow backgrounds and headers, oh wait...  Wink
Was that really necessary?  Did you have to make that statement to come across as a complete asshole?  Oh, wait.... 
I simply point out the irony of you advising someone to avoid distracting web design, with a smiley to indicate it was in good humour and you respond with abuse. Dear me.
 
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RFPhotography
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« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2013, 01:54:33 PM »
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Re: the pseudo-selfie, if that's what you think you're doing, so be it.  Re: the apparent 'good humour' of your other remark, I'm not sure you know what that phrase means.   
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jjj
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« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2013, 03:07:57 PM »
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Re: the pseudo-selfie, if that's what you think you're doing, so be it.  Re: the apparent 'good humour' of your other remark, I'm not sure you know what that phrase means.   
You seem to be the sort of person who likes to take offence. Regardless of whether there is any to take.

Re the 'selfie'. It's a tongue in cheek portrait of me in a location studio I built in the woods in Sweden.
Now as it may have escaped you attention - I'm a photographer.
Now photographers use cameras.
Therefore I have a camera in my hand.
The shallow focus is on the camera to illustrate my role at this location.
Which is taking pictures. With a camera.
Except in this one case.
As my girlfriend took the picture of my hand and the camera I am holding.
[You are still keeping up I hope.]
I'm aping a what is now known as selfie pose, rather ironically as I'm in an actual photo studio.
Where I actually use a big macho grown up, proper camera. Not a dainty P+S camera.
So technically it's not even a self portrait, let alone an actual selfie.


BTW in your mind, are all self portraits now automatically crap because 'selfie' has made the dictionary?

And as irony seems to baffle you - it's
1 - the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.
2 - a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often wryly amusing as a result.


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MarkM
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« Reply #17 on: September 14, 2013, 04:31:53 PM »
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Your basic premise, that a website needs to stand out, is correct in my opinion. There are a lot more ways to screw it up than there are to get it right which is why there are so many dismal websites and websites that just use templates.

Your question is a little hard to answer, however, because you haven't laid the groundwork upon which an answer can be formed.

You first need to identify an audience—a wedding site will be much different than a fine-art photography site, which will be much different than a commercial photography site.

You also need to understand and be able to articulate your brand. Who are you? Why should the audience in the above question care?  Answering questions like these will often lead to better answers to questions like background color and typeface choice. Also, the better answer you have to this question, the less you'll want to use a template.

Having said that, I've noticed some common threads among good websites:

1.The editing is ruthless. You won't see good websites with multiple versions of the same image, like a color and sepia next to each other. You might think it demonstrates flexibility, but really it screams, "I don't know what I want." Editing can be painful because we are inevitably attached to certain images for very personal reasons that are irrelevant to the audience. It can help to have a trusted third party give you candid advice. One poor image can throw off the whole thing and is much more damaging than one less image.

2. Works flexibly across media: small screen, large screen, iPhone, provides basic usability without javascript, etc. It's becoming harder and harder to make generalizations about how your audience is using your site. Analytics can help find problems.

3. Quick. Not only the downloading but also the interface. This is especially true if your audience includes art buyers and photo editors. They want to quickly scan your work and get a sense of who you are photographically. Don't put up road blocks and require lots of clicks to see images. If you need to write instructions about how to use the interface, you're doing it wrong.

4. Search engine friendly. Don't display text as images unless absolutely necessary. Be mindful of page titles, descriptions, etc..

5. Obvious things: no music, no faux borders, don't let the interface distract from the message. Above all, you need to demonstrate good taste.

Good luck. I personally think developing a website is torture. It's a long process that, as far as I can tell, never really ends.
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RFPhotography
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« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2013, 04:34:17 PM »
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You seem to be the sort of person who likes to take offence. Regardless of whether there is any to take.

Re the 'selfie'. It's a tongue in cheek portrait of me in a location studio I built in the woods in Sweden.
Now as it may have escaped you attention - I'm a photographer.
Now photographers use cameras.
Therefore I have a camera in my hand.
The shallow focus is on the camera to illustrate my role at this location.
Which is taking pictures. With a camera.
Except in this one case.
As my girlfriend took the picture of my hand and the camera I am holding.
[You are still keeping up I hope.]
I'm aping a what is now known as selfie pose, rather ironically as I'm in an actual photo studio.
Where I actually use a big macho grown up, proper camera. Not a dainty P+S camera.
So technically it's not even a self portrait, let alone an actual selfie.

Yawn.


Quote
BTW in your mind, are all self portraits now automatically crap because 'selfie' has made the dictionary?

Not at all.  

Quote
And as irony seems to baffle you - it's
1 - the expression of one’s meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect.
2 - a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often wryly amusing as a result.


Fully understand the meaning of irony.  There was nothing ironic about your remarks.  

WRT the constant questioning of my intelligence; just keep running that play, maybe some day you'll get it right.

Now, if you're finished trying to insult me, perhaps we could get back to discussing photography web design.
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Sharon Van Lieu
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« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2013, 06:02:19 PM »
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Your basic premise, that a website needs to stand out, is correct in my opinion. There are a lot more ways to screw it up than there are to get it right which is why there are so many dismal websites and websites that just use templates.

Your question is a little hard to answer, however, because you haven't laid the groundwork upon which an answer can be formed.

You first need to identify an audience—a wedding site will be much different than a fine-art photography site, which will be much different than a commercial photography site.

You also need to understand and be able to articulate your brand. Who are you? Why should the audience in the above question care?  Answering questions like these will often lead to better answers to questions like background color and typeface choice. Also, the better answer you have to this question, the less you'll want to use a template.

Having said that, I've noticed some common threads among good websites:

1.The editing is ruthless. You won't see good websites with multiple versions of the same image, like a color and sepia next to each other. You might think it demonstrates flexibility, but really it screams, "I don't know what I want." Editing can be painful because we are inevitably attached to certain images for very personal reasons that are irrelevant to the audience. It can help to have a trusted third party give you candid advice. One poor image can throw off the whole thing and is much more damaging than one less image.

2. Works flexibly across media: small screen, large screen, iPhone, provides basic usability without javascript, etc. It's becoming harder and harder to make generalizations about how your audience is using your site. Analytics can help find problems.

3. Quick. Not only the downloading but also the interface. This is especially true if your audience includes art buyers and photo editors. They want to quickly scan your work and get a sense of who you are photographically. Don't put up road blocks and require lots of clicks to see images. If you need to write instructions about how to use the interface, you're doing it wrong.

4. Search engine friendly. Don't display text as images unless absolutely necessary. Be mindful of page titles, descriptions, etc..

5. Obvious things: no music, no faux borders, don't let the interface distract from the message. Above all, you need to demonstrate good taste.

Good luck. I personally think developing a website is torture. It's a long process that, as far as I can tell, never really ends.

Excellent advice and I love your work, Mark. Tongass National Forest just blew me away.

Sharon
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