Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Building Your Perfect Website
As a professional photographer, you need to have a professional-looking website. What used to be a difficult process of design and coding now can be achieved simply, with minimal leffort and maximum effectiveness.
“No, I don’t have a business card, but all my details along with a portfolio of images can be found on my website.” And for those photographers who do carry business cards, it’s becoming increasingly common to include only a business name and website address along with some photos but no other details. Now more than ever, websites are front and center as a promotional vehicle for photographers.
Location, Location, Location
Everyone wants a great address, in both the real world and the online world. If you’re creating a new website, you’ll need to obtain a domain name, which is the address visitors will use to get to your site. Of course, at this point, it seems all the good names are taken, especially if you want a “.com” address. You could settle for a “.net” or “.biz” address (or other options) if the name you want isn’t available, but a “.com” address is still considered optimal.
Get a domain name that’s relatively short, easy to spell and relates to your photography in some way. Because so many domain names are already spoken for, you may need to get creative. Have a list of keywords you’d like to incorporate, and try variations while looking for an available option. You’ll often find that using your own name will help in terms of finding a domain name that’s available.
But using your own name isn’t always ideal. As professional photographer and videographer André Costantini (www.sillydancing.com) says, “A photographer’s name is their brand, so most choose a domain that incorporates their name. But sometimes that’s not the best solution. Most people have a difficult time spelling my last name, so I chose a domain name that would be easy to spell and memorable, while reflecting a bit of my personality.”
You can check availability and register a domain name with a registrar such as NetworkSolutions.com, Register.com and many others. You’ll also need a place to host your website. Look for a hosting service that guarantees reliability, offers good performance and has competitive prices. To make things even easier, you can use a hosting provider that also enables you to register a domain name directly with them. For example, 1&1 Internet (www.1and1.com) serves as a one-stop shop for your website, allowing you to register a domain name, have your website hosted and even use their own online tools to build a basic website.
Planning The Site
Before diving in to create your website, give some careful thought to how you’ll present yourself to the world. Take the time to find the right images, create a navigation map and design a rich and rewarding experience for site visitors.
“I’m asked to review hundreds of sites each year by photographers from around the world,” says former PACA president and stock photo consultant and educator Patrick Donehue. “I find the sites I enjoy the most are simple, straightforward and elegant. The images should be displayed prominently and sequenced carefully with a great deal of thought. Show only your best images and show them large. The importance of good editing can’t be overstated, and navigation should be simple and ought not to be creative or cute. Also, music or other audio ought not to be used. A photographer’s website should be about their imagery and inspiration. It should leave the viewer breathless and begging to see more.”
As a photographer, it goes without saying, you’ll include your photography in the site. You also need to provide links to the key pages of your website. It’s important to keep the site’s organization as simple as possible, even if your business is complex. As nature and cultural photographer Art Wolfe (www.artwolfe.com) says, “There are many aspects to my business, including stock photography, prints, workshops and a television show. My website needs to provide access to these individual pieces of my business without overwhelming the visitor and while emphasizing my photography. So I’ve kept the home page simple, incorporating photographic images and links to the key sections of my site.”
Create a site map to define what pages you actually need, as that will drive the navigation you build into the site’s design. Then sketch out what you think you’d like the site to look like and start thinking about color and other design considerations. As with great photographs, the best websites are usually born out of much previsualization and planning.
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