Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Your Home On The Web, Part 1
Making a polished and professional-looking website doesn't have to be an all-consuming endeavor. A number of companies can have you up and running at a low cost and with a minimum of hassle.
Let's face it—most of us already spend more time behind a computer keyboard than we'd like, dealing with Photoshop, digital asset management and e-mail. The last thing anyone has time for is learning HTML and how to create a website for showing and selling our work. In recent years, a number of options have become available to pro photographers who want to have a compelling website without requiring a lot of time, energy and money to maintain.
There are plenty of independent web designers you could hire to build your site. In this article, we're looking at companies that provide template-type page designs and some level of image management. The templates may or may not be customizable, but they all make a professional-looking presence on the web. In part two of this article (May/June Digital Photo Pro), we'll look at web companies that specialize in more advanced image management and stock sales rather than the design-intensive, up-front services that we address here.
The web companies that cater to the pro photographer center their services around building high-end-looking sites for clients and some degree of image management. As you begin to shop, you'll quickly find that you have two basic choices: Flash or HTML. HTML has the advantage of the widest compatibility with web browsers and is typically faster to load pages, while Flash is more secure—it's harder for someone to steal your images. Flash also makes many of the administrative tasks such as image uploading and order processing much easier. With high-speed connections now common, Flash doesn't have the drawbacks it once did.
Your next decision involves hosting. Some of the options we cover here are one-stop solutions, with hosting, reporting, e-mail and sales all provided, while others offer templates for your own use on a website that you own and maintain. All of the services that provide hosting transfer an existing domain—your name on the web—to their servers, making the switch to the new service transparent to any visitors to your site.
Because nothing in life is free, stay ahead of the game by doing some initial planning up front to determine your needs. If your plan is to showcase selected images, a more basic package is likely all that you require. For selling stock photography, you want features that enable purchasing, usage information and availability. Portrait or event photographers are interested in the ability to post custom galleries for viewing and selling (more on this in the next issue of DPP).