I browse quite a good number of blogs and websites daily. What I notice is that while some websites have good content, they have horrible representation as a whole. Some are difficult to navigate, some are just too convoluted with junk, and some don’t even rank as high on search engine result pages (SERPs) as they should. Today, I’ll give you guys some tips on DOs and DON’Ts while designing your website, and more specifically, designing your website as a photographer.
DON’T: use flash on your website. Ever. At all. This is one of the biggest problems I have. Flash is slow, insecure, and hard to navigate. While it may (debatable) deliver eye-candy to your viewers, it takes away the ability to browse around as a user. Moreover, search engine crawlers cannot detect Flash contents, so whatever images or tags you put up, they don’t get indexed, thus lowering your search engine optimization (SEO) scores. The worst of all is when you have music playing in the background. Please, I don’t want to listen to your cheesy taste of music. I can’t even stand it when Youtube videos automatically play, don’t make me have to hunt down your tab and kill it.
DON’T: have your websites/blogs take too long to load. The attention span of internet users are anywhere between 3 and 5 seconds.If your website takes longer than 7 seconds, you can expect your visitors to lose interest. I personally have a 10-second-or-so limit. If I have to wait for more than 10 seconds for a website to load, I’m closing it, regardless of how good I think the content may be.
DON’T: put too much stuff on top of your website. Assuming you only have about 3-5 seconds to impress a visitor, and your website takes too much time to load, it doesn’t leave you a lot of room to work with. And by room I mean “the fold”. And by the fold I mean the approximation of where things are cut off before they have to scroll down. In the early days, people believe that everything had to be above “the fold” to catch a reader’s eyes. Things have changed, people are used to the concept of scrolling down, you no longer need to cram a gazillion things above the fold.
DO: while it’s wise to design your website to be clean and aesthetic, you need to keep in mind that nice pictures always attract more attention. Aside from the [simple and intuitive] navigation on top of your website, you should at least post a thumbnail that’s related to the content. This is how you keep your visitors interested while the rest of the content is being loaded.
Below are a few more general tips on designing your website as a photographer:
Tip: always assume the users to be lazy. To encourage more sharing, you want to place the social buttons as close to the main content as possible. Our eyes are used to the “top-down, left-right” flow, so make sure those buttons appear where the eyes generally go. With respect to the position of the main content, the four corners usually work very well.
DO: clearly state where you are based out of, and make sure your contact form and/or information are correct. You want your future client to know exactly where you are, and how to get in touch with you with the least of their effort.
There are a lot of tips on the Internet on how to design a blog or a website in general, but I wanted to give you some tips on designing it specifically as a photographer. One biggest key point to take away is: design it not for you, but for your future and current clients. Put yourself in their shoes, and ask yourself the question, “If I were to visit a random website, what would I really like (and hate) to see?” Be objective and honest as much as possible.