I've made a list of the 11 most important considerations for any photography portfolio website. This comes from lessons learned while working with photographers and photo buyers during the past 10 years.
1) Clean and simple wins. Always.
If people are constantly praising the design of your portfolio website, you're probably doing something wrong. Your photos are supposed to be the star of the show, so don't clutter it up with useless design elements. If people notice the design of a site over the photography it contains, that's a problem. The design of a website should fade into the background and not be noticed.
There's a growing trend among photographers who want to show their images at full screen. This is a departure from the past, where photographers were worried about image theft, so they intentionally made their images small. Today, it's all about impact and getting the assignment. Larger images, they feel, make a bigger impact.
A clean website also takes things out of the way when they aren't being used. For example, next and previous buttons can fade away until the user wants to move to the next image. They would do this by moving their mouse pointer to the left or right edges of the photo.
Another way to decrease clutter on your website is to be careful about how you watermark your images. Protecting your images from being stolen is important for many photographers, but it's important to realize the implications of going too far. If a watermark is so large that it obscures the image, destroying the experience of viewing it, the photographer may be doing more damage than they think.
Keep in mind that there are people out there who want to buy or license your images, and you should make it as easy as possible for them to do it. An aggressive watermarking strategy could backfire on a photographer because it could result in the image not being selected for consideration based entirely on the watermark.
2) Navigation, links, gallery titles must be easy to understand.
Don't turn your portfolio into a game of mystery. Make sure that categories, sections, labels and navigation make sense to everyone. Getting clever with these things may seem like a fun idea, and a way to be different, but it creates a frustrating experience for your users.
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