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Author Topic: How should a website look  (Read 6957 times)
MarkM
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« Reply #20 on: September 14, 2013, 06:56:41 PM »
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Thanks Sharon. The fact that you have two websites that are aimed at different markets speaks to the importance of understanding your audience and the context in which they are looking at your work. You've done a really nice job on creating two clean presentations that let the work speak for itself. It's interesting to see such different sites from the same photographer.
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Sharon Van Lieu
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« Reply #21 on: September 14, 2013, 06:59:35 PM »
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Thanks so much, Mark. I appreciate that.

Sharon
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iluvmycam
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« Reply #22 on: September 14, 2013, 07:20:46 PM »
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I like my new Tumblr.

(nude warning for both)

http://ifreeztime.tumblr.com/


Here is old style. I'm keeping is old school. Don't want to fudge it up.

http://danielteolijr.tumblr.com/

I like websites fast and to the point. If I can't access it fast I shut it down.
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PeterAit
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« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2013, 07:57:50 PM »
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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.

Remember also that the website has to be functional - not too complex while still making it easy for the visitor to find whatever he wants. Need to find prices? Email the photographer? Learn about print sizes and options? All must be readily accessible.
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Martin Ranger
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« Reply #24 on: September 14, 2013, 10:34:30 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.

I don't think it can be said better than this. My own personal rule is to keep everything as simple as possible: nothing to disctract from the actual images I want people to notice. Background images are a complete no-no for this reason. They distract and potentially clash thematically/aesthetically with the "main" image. Background designs are different, and might work for certain sites (wedding photography?)
About background colors, I seem to remember reading somehwere that light background colors put the viewer in a better mood. I could have mis-remembered this, though.
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Martin Ranger
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« Reply #25 on: September 15, 2013, 12:15:51 AM »
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Remember also that the website has to be functional - not too complex while still making it easy for the visitor to find whatever he wants. Need to find prices? Email the photographer? Learn about print sizes and options? All must be readily accessible.

Agree.  Insofar as it relates to fine art and print prices.  But when it comes to something like commercial photography, it's a bit more nebulous.  Weddings/portraits, less so.  Depends on the genre.
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Chris_Brown
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« Reply #26 on: September 15, 2013, 12:35:11 AM »
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I feel that if a website is to stand out the site itself has to be memorable . . .

What is memorable to you may not be such to another. I think it's best to create a site that reflects your own aesthetics, in terms of both visual and functional qualities.
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« Reply #27 on: September 23, 2013, 07:35:48 AM »
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I personally think developing a website is torture. It's a long process that, as far as I can tell, never really ends.

All well-said.  I'd like to add that _for me_, developing a site can be kind of fun.  But that in no way changes that it is a long process involving many tedious tasks, and that, while it may achieve stable moments, it is, as you say, un-ending.

In one of Michael's recent articles he emphasizes the difference in the amount of time it takes to make a good photo vs. a good video.  Making a good website takes even longer.
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« Reply #28 on: September 23, 2013, 07:40:55 AM »
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In one of Michael's recent articles he emphasizes the difference in the amount of time it takes to make a good photo vs. a good video.  Making a good website takes even longer.
Film making is the bigger time sucker in my experience.  Undecided
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Justinr
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« Reply #29 on: October 05, 2013, 02:08:04 PM »
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What pains me more than anything when looking at websites are the acres upon acres of white space that we are usually presented with. It burns the eyes and distracts the attention. LL has got it right with it's light grey background and that is what I use on mine.

We are told that websites have got easier and easier to produce with the advent of CMS programmes but to be quite honest by the time you have got your head around Joomla or Drupal, or tried to make something of Wordpress other than a blog you might as well get wise to a little HTML and use a WYSIWYG editor to to create your own design.

Purists and web geeks had better look away now for I am going to admit to still using tables for the layout as this is by far the quickest and simplest method that I have found of doing things. It works as well, but hey, it ain't trendy except when it's tarted up and sold to the unsuspecting as '960'. Web design suffers as badly as any other branch of computing in that there is nothing as big a nuisance as a programmer with an idea. My poor old pa who was working with punch card machines 60 years ago told me this from the cradle onwards and the very same can be said today of those who insist that HTML is dead, and then CSS, and then html 4 and so on and on. Just who's web is it anyway?

There is though something of an elephant in the room, well certainly over here anyway, and that is, err.. nobody actually uses the web to buy stuff in Ireland!  Well that's not absolutely true but all a website does for most firms is prove that they exist. I put a site together for a friend who runs a small chain of computer repair shops, the very business you would think would benefit most from the medium, but over five years he had less than a dozen enquiries come his way via the internet! He has one of his own lads do it now when they are quiet, no point in paying anyone.

As for galleries I'm minded to run without one. I have a montage as a header that adds colour, instils drama and gives a reasonable indication that I'm handy with a camera. If they want to see more then I'd be delighted to send some extra through. Again I'd point out that in many of the non glossy magazines just a picture, any picture will do. This is most sad and unfortunate but it is the way of the world. There is also another alarming development that I've come across and that is Graphic designers hating photography as they feel they can do a better job with their arty designs, maybe some can, but it's not universal. One that I know of deliberately screws up pictures that are 'too good' I'm sure . If I send anything decent in it often gets desaturated or yellowed or generally messed about with. Anything snapshotty or mediocre he leaves alone!

http://www.inkplusimages.com


 
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Justinr
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« Reply #30 on: October 05, 2013, 03:15:47 PM »
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All well-said.  I'd like to add that _for me_, developing a site can be kind of fun.  But that in no way changes that it is a long process involving many tedious tasks, and that, while it may achieve stable moments, it is, as you say, un-ending.

In one of Michael's recent articles he emphasizes the difference in the amount of time it takes to make a good photo vs. a good video.  Making a good website takes even longer.

The cost/benefit equation is not nearly as often considered as it should be I feel.
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EgillBjarki
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« Reply #31 on: October 08, 2013, 01:06:08 AM »
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A well designed webpage should reflect on the context. I consider my self to have a minimalistic straight forward style photographically speaking, so I went  the same direction with the web page.

Bottom line, every photographer is different, and so should their webpages be.
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jjj
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« Reply #32 on: October 08, 2013, 04:59:27 AM »
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What pains me more than anything when looking at websites are the acres upon acres of white space that we are usually presented with. It burns the eyes and distracts the attention. LL has got it right with it's light grey background and that is what I use on mine.
Never had any issue with reading on white backgrounds. Reading reverse text as used on LuLa main site and DP Review is simply horrible though, you get retina burn from that I find - there's a very good reason why text is usually black on white.
I find it interesting that Michael writes so well about camera ergonomics yet LuLa is so very clunky to use. Seriously needs an design overhaul to bring it into this century.

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Purists and web geeks had better look away now for I am going to admit to still using tables for the layout as this is by far the quickest and simplest method that I have found of doing things. It works as well, but hey, it ain't trendy except when it's tarted up and sold to the unsuspecting as '960'. Web design suffers as badly as any other branch of computing in that there is nothing as big a nuisance as a programmer with an idea. My poor old pa who was working with punch card machines 60 years ago told me this from the cradle onwards and the very same can be said today of those who insist that HTML is dead, and then CSS, and then html 4 and so on and on. Just who's web is it anyway?
Tables certainly got a bad press from certain purists who insisted as that they were designed for displaying data, that's all that they should be used for, when in reality they were a useful solution to some web design issues.  However times have moved on a long way since then and fixed size layouts are an extremely bad idea these days. Screen size and shapes that web sites are viewed on can be so very different and trying to view a site designed for a computer monitor on a mobile device is usually quite painful. So now there's no good reason to use tables anymore, just like using hand set type is past its prime for printing.

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There is though something of an elephant in the room, well certainly over here anyway, and that is, err.. nobody actually uses the web to buy stuff in Ireland!  Well that's not absolutely true but all a website does for most firms is prove that they exist. I put a site together for a friend who runs a small chain of computer repair shops, the very business you would think would benefit most from the medium, but over five years he had less than a dozen enquiries come his way via the internet! He has one of his own lads do it now when they are quiet, no point in paying anyone.
Uh, Chain Reaction Cycles in Northern Ireland sell a silly amount of stuff online. But then they have a well designed, easy to use website with good prices.

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As for galleries I'm minded to run without one. I have a montage as a header that adds colour, instils drama and gives a reasonable indication that I'm handy with a camera. If they want to see more then I'd be delighted to send some extra through.
A photography site without photos, that's a novel concept.  Huh

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Justinr
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« Reply #33 on: October 08, 2013, 08:51:07 AM »
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Never had any issue with reading on white backgrounds. Reading reverse text as used on LuLa main site and DP Review is simply horrible though, you get retina burn from that I find - there's a very good reason why text is usually black on white.

And that reason is? To be honest I think it's idleness. Lets face it the majority of sites are now built using CMS's of some sort and that is the default colour scheme and rarely gets changed. It makes for a very bland browsing experience when all the sites are so alike. All the variety, vigour and excitement in viewing different websites is slowly draining away. I'm not saying white print on black is any better, I don't think it is, but there is plenty of scope in between.

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I find it interesting that Michael writes so well about camera ergonomics yet LuLa is so very clunky to use. Seriously needs an design overhaul to bring it into this century.

I'm not so sure. Change for changes sake or for good reason? No doubt any new layout will be chock full of bells, whistles and interactive buttons to 'enhance' the viewing experience, or in other words even more information will be extracted from the users to the delight of the advertisers and the NSA.

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Tables certainly got a bad press from certain purists who insisted as that they were designed for displaying data, that's all that they should be used for, when in reality they were a useful solution to some web design issues.  However times have moved on a long way since then and fixed size layouts are an extremely bad idea these days. Screen size and shapes that web sites are viewed on can be so very different and trying to view a site designed for a computer monitor on a mobile device is usually quite painful. So now there's no good reason to use tables anymore, just like using hand set type is past its prime for printing.

I've yet to receive one complaint and should people really be judging a photo by looking at it on the screen of a mobile phone anyway? Would you take an image captured on the latest 80mp Blad down to a Happy Snaps outlet for a 4x6 print and then take that along to a client?

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Uh, Chain Reaction Cycles in Northern Ireland sell a silly amount of stuff online. But then they have a well designed, easy to use website with good prices.

A photography site without photos, that's a novel concept.  Huh


Two things one needs to notice here. First, I qualified my statement and secondly it's not actually a photography site. 


p.s. Northern Ireland is a different place to the rest of Ireland.
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Justinr
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« Reply #34 on: October 08, 2013, 08:57:23 AM »
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A well designed webpage should reflect on the context. I consider my self to have a minimalistic straight forward style photographically speaking, so I went  the same direction with the web page.

Bottom line, every photographer is different, and so should their webpages be.

Quite so.
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jjj
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« Reply #35 on: October 08, 2013, 11:50:02 AM »
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And that reason is? To be honest I think it's idleness. Lets face it the majority of sites are now built using CMS's of some sort and that is the default colour scheme and rarely gets changed. It makes for a very bland browsing experience when all the sites are so alike. All the variety, vigour and excitement in viewing different websites is slowly draining away. I'm not saying white print on black is any better, I don't think it is, but there is plenty of scope in between.
There are countless ways to differentiate a site's appearance even if text is black on white, so hardly idleness. Besides I see a huge range of looks and styles as I browse. It's more that black on white is a very good and readable good way of  presenting text and hence why it is a near universal way of displaying text. And as your site is very plain and lacking any design flair, critiquing others for lacking interest in their design seems a bit daft.

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I'm not so sure. Change for changes sake or for good reason? No doubt any new layout will be chock full of bells, whistles and interactive buttons to 'enhance' the viewing experience, or in other words even more information will be extracted from the users to the delight of the advertisers and the NSA.
It needs an overhaul as it could be so much better and is horrible to read on a big screen as the text spans the entire display. There's a good reason columns are used to layout text in newspapers and magazine. Also it's much easier to read LuLa on any screen if colours are inverted.

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I've yet to receive one complaint and should people really be judging a photo by looking at it on the screen of a mobile phone anyway? Would you take an image captured on the latest 80mp Blad down to a Happy Snaps outlet for a 4x6 print and then take that along to a client?
Why would anyone complain, they'll simply move on to a better site. Photos can look great on mobile devices if handled well and people are increasingly using such devices to surf. I've impressed people with my work  by being able to show them photos on my phone that I always have with me. I certainly do not carry an A2 folio with me just in case, but a phone or tablet is a great way to show off work informally. Oh and your site is simply awful to use on a phone and looks like it was made in the 90s, so there's your first complaint.  Tongue

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Two things one needs to notice here. First, I qualified my statement and secondly it's not actually a photography site. 
er...this is a thread specifically about photography websites and you specifically said in relation to a photographs "As for galleries I'm minded to run without one.". Which is what I was referring to. Anyway the name of yours implies implies it's about photography [and writing].

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p.s. Northern Ireland is a different place to the rest of Ireland.
I'm well aware of that but I bet a lot of people South of the border also use Chain Reaction site to shop. It just so happens I was on that very popular site just before replying. I also had a quick scan of Irish bike shops and they all seem to be geared up for online sales too. I'd imagine that the reason your friend doesn't get any business via the website is because it isn't very good.  I'd be a bit surprised if Ireland was the only place that didn't shop/do business online. Undecided
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Justinr
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« Reply #36 on: October 08, 2013, 12:55:21 PM »
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Oh all right, if we are going to sit here being rude to each other then 1, Futt Futt Futt is a stupid name. 2, It took around 20 seconds to load. 3, Its about as distinguishable and stylish and heap of dog poo, and so on.

You see, its easy to hurl bricks around but hardly constructive, neither does it take into account ones preferences. I wouldn't be at all happy having a site like yours it would just come over as pretentious. Sure, if my market was the insufferable 'creatives' in Dublin ad agencies then they would no doubt be suitably impressed and we could all have a big ol' love in, but the people I'm selling to want substance in content, being handy with the camera is a bonus which is why they can immediately see what I get up to without having to trawl through acres of white out.  

Now you may not like my site but plenty do, it's simple, straight and the information is there to be had with little faffing about looking for it. It's cost effective as well, I can change, correct or update it in minutes. I'm happy for now and if it doesn't work on your gizzmo then that is a further burden I will try and have to cope with as I struggle through life. I've got a foreign trip out of it/despite it this weekend anyway.

Now, I qualified my statement about people buying on the web in Ireland, of course they do, but its not big because of the social structure out here in the west. You say you know NI is different from southern Ireland but believe me, you don't understand that difference for if you did we wouldn't be having this sort of conversation. But, hey, I only live here so that doesn't count then does it. If I were to say to you that the real cultural divide is between the east and west rather than the north and south would you know why? You remind me of my very English sister in law who said to me, "Don't tell me about Ireland, my grandmother came from there" which was about 70 years ago. Roll Eyes

Toodle pip!


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jjj
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« Reply #37 on: October 08, 2013, 01:39:26 PM »
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As it happens I used to work on Ireland and I'm quite fond of the place, which is not something I can say about Northern Ireland. Though it's a real shame you still have wind up computers and steam powered modems which prevents people from shopping online.

BTW, I was simply pointing out your site does not work very well in today's changed world and also the hypocrisy of you saying most web sites are bland and was not simply being insulting as you infer.
I'm also not sure why you think a plain and simple site with minimal chrome is pretentious. My site is just an minimal online portfolio designed to show off the photos and not draw attention to the site itself. And most importantly it also displays images correctly on any size screen. And I can update it from Lightroom in a few seconds too, none of this wasting minutes nonsense.   As for my photos lacking substance in content because I have a white background, well at least I have some photo to show for my sins. Tongue
But anyway you seem to have a bee in your bonnet about creative people as a whole as well as change it would seem and if you think a photography site without photos is a good thing then carry on. But don't try and advise other people that or that a functionally impaired site is useful without expecting someone pointing out your advice may not be of much use.
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Justinr
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« Reply #38 on: October 08, 2013, 03:24:05 PM »
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No no no! it's not that they can't, it's that they don't want to. It's all about who you know or is in the family, if I want a bit for the car I go and see Mike, something for the computer it's Pat, Household/DIY? Then it's the lads at Blackburn's or the co-op, all of whom are on first name terms with everyone else. Certainly I'll shop for cameras and kit online but that's mainly because it's a long way to a decent photo shop but I'll always talk to the dealer before ordering and if I don't like the sound of them they don't get the business no matter how wonderful the site. Travel tickets are something else we buy online and the girls the odd item of clothing, but not much else really. That's the way it works around here, the web is something of a last rather than first resort for everyone. Beyond FB and Done Deal people don't much care for it.  Where did you work over here btw? I should imagine it was the east rather than the west.

Minimalist is a design style in itself and just how many thousands of minimalist photo sites do we encounter on the web. Would an editor recommend me to greasey old tractor enthusiasts/dealers or salt of the earth bikers with the words, 'Justin from Fut futt futt photography is coming over to talk to you and BTW he has a rather natty minimalist website'. It's horses for courses, you and I aim for different markets if yours works for you then fair enough but it's not for me, acres of white still annoy the hell out of me though.

Yes I was being unfair to Dublin creatives, in fact most Dubliners have their head stuck up their rear ends to some degree. Now, let's see what sort of trouble that gets me into.
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« Reply #39 on: October 09, 2013, 05:26:21 AM »
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Apparently Ireland spends a fair bit online and a rapidly increasing proportion at that. From the Independent.ie

"Around €4bn of the country's annual €35bn retail spending is now done online.
But only a quarter of the money from internet purchases goes to Irish online merchants.
And the flight of consumer cash is likely to get worse, with online spending growing year-on-year.

While consumers have drastically cut back on purchases in traditional stores since the recession kicked in, the frequency of online buying shows no let-up.
The Digital Hub Development Agency said figures from Visa Europe indicate online purchases by Irish consumers now exceed €4.1bn.
The figures show that online purchases were €2.96bn in 2010 and are growing by up to 39pc a year, said Dr Stephen Brennan, strategy officer with the Digital Hub, a state body promoting Ireland's online sector.
He warned that Irish companies would have to beef up their online presence to stem the flow of purchases overseas, with the market predicted to soar to €21bn by 2017."


I prefer to spend locally myself, mainly as I have someone to complain to when things go wrong. Wink But I will source locally unavailable things online or find best prices that way.

I used to work at various Universities/Colleges from Dublin to Galway. Ireland reminded me a bit of France as I also worked there around same time, lots of rules that everyone completely ignored - but the Irish were friendlier.


Minimalist is a design style in itself and just how many thousands of minimalist photo sites do we encounter on the web. Would an editor recommend me to greasey old tractor enthusiasts/dealers or salt of the earth bikers with the words, 'Justin from Fut futt futt photography is coming over to talk to you and BTW he has a rather natty minimalist website'.
Nope only a complete numpty would say say that. A sensible person would simply say Justin is coming to see you and he's a really good photographer. 
And there are probably as many photographer's website with a no design aesthetic as there are minimalist designs. But it's the photos [should there actually be any] that should distinguish the photographers not the design.

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It's horses for courses, you and I aim for different markets if yours works for you then fair enough but it's not for me, acres of white still annoy the hell out of me though.
My site is designed to show off my photographs, so images fill screen with no distracting chrome. The background is white in the areas where image is not same shape as screen, much like if it was a photographic print printed on white paper, so hardly acres of white which you seem to equate with pretentious. And to be pernickety if it was actually minimalism in style, I would need to use a lot more white space and much smaller photos to achieve that look. I actually like minimalism as I do many other styles, even some that quite ornate, but the point here is to show my photographs as they should dictate the style. The mobile version shows just the photo with a dark grey where aspect ratio of screen differs, as again it's just an online portfolio with no clutter putting photos front and centre. Avoiding chrome is not the same as minimalism.

Website is a few years old now and and I am looking to do a different kind of website, one that incorporates things other than just images, but not found a solution that ticks all my boxes yet. I am now thinking of almost white text on a crisp white background with images only 10 pixels wide with a 2 pixel white border.  Grin
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