Today is the official launch of my new website that I’ve been working for the past 7 months, and I’m super stoked. It was designed by my peeps over at Knowawall who designed a number of talented photographers. My background in design influenced many logical points that were thought about going into it. I thought I would share some of those with you.
The first perspective was the state of the industry and where it’s headed. As this website was a pretty penny, and a huge investment for me I didn’t want to take it lightly. I have a feeling that the printed portfolios will diminish in 5 years. Right now the printed portfolios are still very much in play and website portfolios are creeping their way in. Will printed portfolios completely go away? I doubt it, but photographers are getting booked more and more straight from their websites. Why not make it easy for potential clients to see big images, and fast?
Taking that into account, we broke it all down to those objectives(big images & fast). Having that design background has given me the ability to look at it from an Art Director/Art Buyer’s(my target market) receiving/viewing perspective. I do it all the time when looking at other photography sites. There are so many sites that my adult ADD quickly vetoes(chasing thumbnails, single loading images, crap design, etc.) I’m sure most AD’s & AB’s have the same issues. The first thing I took into account was my target market. Art Directors, Art Buyers, and Photo Editors at ad agencies and magazines. They are super busy people, and they don’t have much time to make their way through a site that is hard to navigate and slow to load. They are typically working from a fast broadband connection with at least a 20 inch screen. Sometimes smaller, but a majority have at least that. And the last thing, who doesn’t want to see HUGE images?
In my brief to the design team, we created the site to that target market. The site is a combination of flash and PHP scripting which allows url linking to specific galleries and parts of the site. The flash allows the images to be scaleable based on the viewer’s monitor, whether it’s a 13 inch laptop or a 30 inch cinema. (which is awesome when you land on the home page and click the full screen button. The site becomes a screen saver with full screen images) The developers created a special algorithm to have the images loading ahead of the viewer, and following them where ever they go in the galleries. We developed the horizontal scrolling stories because it compliments my story driven work. The design is intentionally minimal visually because it is really all about showcasing the images. The navigation shows in every part of the portfolio website.
Here are a few features I’d like to highlight and why we did them.
•Full Screen(button top right next to search, subtly there without being distracting)
This feature is a definite must with flash capabilities. It creates a dynamic user experience not having to view it in a browser window. Try it out. It also works as a great branded screen saver if you leave the site on the home page in full screen mode)
Including a keyword search, is partially for my own use in addition art directors and art buyers. There is a database of 2400 images on the site that can be searched through. This was a huge undertaking in that my whole library had to be organized and keyworded. Even at that, we still ended up having to blanket shoots with certain words pertaining to that shoot.
The lightbox feature works in conjunction with the keyword search. It’s for both me and clients, and anyone for that matter. You can create your own lightbox of images to send to a friend, or for art buyers to send their art directors, etc. I can create front end lightboxes to send certain potential clients looking for certain images.
Simple navigation is the most key thing you can integrate into a website. Make it EASY for your viewer to get through your site. Have it static in every page, don’t make them chase things, and make it intuitive for a 3 year old) In the gallery nav, we included many options. You can click the next arrow, which snaps to the next image, you can use your arrow keys, you can click anywhere on the thumbnail bar, or grab the box as the scroll bar without having to chase it. You can also click on the “view all” to see all the images in the gallery. Click on any image and it will take you directly there.
As Social Media is rapidly integrating into our web 2.0 world, I wanted to integrate into the functionality. You can now tweet, facebook, stumble upon, and/or email any link within the site as well as tweet any image. I’ve also included links to my facebook public profile, and twitter pages.
Many clients like to comp ad mockups with your images if they’re considering you for a campaign. Regardless of how you do it, people are going to snag your images whether that’s saving them or screen shotting them. I’ve made it easy by including a download option that lets the viewer download a watermarked image for comping purposes. I’m not a fan of watermarking images on websites. It takes away from the image.
•Image license request:
Licensing images is another great source of income. I want to make it easy for people to inquire, if they are interested in using an image. Clicking the “license” link will create an email to me with the image ID info. I can then have my agent negotiate the licensing if it’s an advertising use. (if the image is licensable, the word “license” will appear in the image rollover nav.)
As we all know, video is creeping into our little photography world. As I’ve only done a few stop motion projects at this time, I wanted to make room to grow and integrate video into the brand.
•News, Behind the Scenes, and Profile
I wanted to create a news section to showcase any press or exciting new endeavors that may come about. Behind the scenes are always fun and a great way for clients to see what it’s like to work on set with you. It’s also a great brand extension. The profile page has a great new cheeky bio written by my copywriter friend Dave.
The new blog has new functionalities, that I will specially highlight in an upcoming post. It was created by my homies over at We The Media in Portland. They can do some insane things with Word Press.
•Backend Content Management System(CMS)
The biggest asset of this site, is the part you can’t see, and a majority of why it costs a pretty penny. The whole backend allows me to have a database of images that I can create galleries on the fly, update and change content, add new news clips, behind the scenes videos and pics, etc. It’s all keyword searchable and makes it so I can update all the content myself without having to get the developers to do it every time I want to add something.
As we all know, so many creatives out there have iPhones, and I wanted to make my new site iPhone friendly. I hired my friends over at AG Design in Mexico to cook up a special iPhone website that draws the galleries from the main website. It’s great because all I have to do is change the galleries in one place. When you hit my website from an iPhone it automatically redirects you to the mobile site.
Nothings ever perfect, but I am super excited to have this site working for me. Think ahead, take your target market in to account when building your site and make it easy for them to understand what it is that you do.