Website theme choice and design considerations advice please

Started 2 months ago | Discussions
Dweeble Regular Member • Posts: 112
Website theme choice and design considerations advice please

Hi. I'm just starting out, focused exclusively on equine photography. Brave I know, but I think my background in and understanding of horses and their owners might give me an edge. Or an in, at any rate!

Clearly a website is kinda important.

I'm totally un-techy, but having been stuffed by website designers in the past want at least to be as well informed as possible or even do it myself.

Am told Wordpress and Linux is the way to go. Any comments?

And what would be amazing would be pointers to a theme which has worked for others. I'm browsing the Wordpress catalogue and my brain is being fried by the choice.

My current thoughts on what I should have:

Clean and light design

Ability for clients to access their images with a password

A blog, really a series of short articles

Don't think I need e-commerce, I'm not planning on selling stock images.

Ideas advice do's and don'ts MUCH appreciated. Thanks!

 Dweeble's gear list:Dweeble's gear list
Nikon D300 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR
PeterGuyton.com
PeterGuyton.com Senior Member • Posts: 2,330
Re: Website theme choice and design considerations advice please

Dweeble wrote:

Hi. I'm just starting out, focused exclusively on equine photography. Brave I know, but I think my background in and understanding of horses and their owners might give me an edge. Or an in, at any rate!

Clearly a website is kinda important.

I'm totally un-techy, but having been stuffed by website designers in the past want at least to be as well informed as possible or even do it myself.

Am told Wordpress and Linux is the way to go. Any comments?

Remember "Wordpress" is really two worlds, there's "Wordpress.com" which is sort of a turnkey version of Wordpress, then there's the Wordpress standard world where you choose any theme from tens of thousands and a hosting company (Bluehost, Siteground, Wpengine,  and many others etc) and run with it.   Your options there are almost overwhelming.

There are other non-Wordpress options too like Squarespace and Format.com, PIxpa, photoshelter etc. Many of those are sort of Wordpress variants under the hood and have similar feel.

Since you are "un-techy", you may want to take a look at Squarespace and Format.com and some of the others. They may have 20 to 30 template options (vs thousands with Wordpress) but for what you are needing they are pretty simple. With Wordpress, I found it needed more "management" on my part and you may not want that?

And what would be amazing would be pointers to a theme which has worked for others. I'm browsing the Wordpress catalogue and my brain is being fried by the choice.

My current thoughts on what I should have:

Clean and light design

Ability for clients to access their images with a password

A blog, really a series of short articles

Don't think I need e-commerce, I'm not planning on selling stock images.

Ideas advice do's and don'ts MUCH appreciated. Thanks!

 PeterGuyton.com's gear list:PeterGuyton.com's gear list
Sony a9 Sony a7R III Sony FE 55mm F1.8 Zeiss Batis 25mm F2 Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS +13 more
OP Dweeble Regular Member • Posts: 112
Re: Website theme choice and design considerations advice please

Peter, that's great. Really like the look of format.com - I think Wordpress would prove far too much for me and the idea of not having to find a techy is bliss.

It's odd - most people quail at dealing with builders and garages - I find it a pleasure and interesting. But techies and tailors - they stitch me up every time:)

 Dweeble's gear list:Dweeble's gear list
Nikon D300 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR
BAK Forum Pro • Posts: 24,785
Re: Website theme choice and design considerations advice please

RE: >> Am told Wordpress and Linux is the way to go. Any comments? <

You should find better sources of info.

We are to some extent in the web site business.

Mostly we use WIX, happily.

www.DesignMyGarden.com is a WIX site packed with photos.

www.TheLegalATeam.com is another WIX site, but fewer pictures.

As for templates - first, decide what you want the site to contain, and then find a template that holds it well.

i.e. do you want to update the site every Sunday night with saddle bronc pictures from the weekend, and you want the pictures full screen on a 1920 x 1080 monitor?

BAK

Paul Skelcher Regular Member • Posts: 422
Re: Website theme choice and design considerations advice please

Dweebie,

Look at PhotoDeck, even if you're not interested in e-commerce.

Run by J-K Maion and brother Cedric, European based, very responsive to questions, fast, flexible, client friendly, blog, multi-language available, free demo.

Paul

TheGrammarFairy Regular Member • Posts: 132
Re: Website theme choice and design considerations advice please

I know this isn't cool, but I've used Squarespace.com for five years with zero issues. For me the thing that sets them apart is their tech support.

The other thing is though, websites aren't really the front and center introduction to your work anymore. From what I've seen, the successful strategy is to choose whichever social media platform is easiest for you to use and post photos and teasers to your blog posts from there. According to experts I've talked to, it doesn't matter which you use, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or whatever your potential clients are on. What matters is that you personally find it easy and convenient to use. If it's a pain in the haunch you'll never post.

In other words, your social media is the ballyhoo and your website is the circus tent.

DenWil
DenWil Veteran Member • Posts: 3,974
Re: Website theme choice and design considerations advice please

Dweeble wrote:

Hi. I'm just starting out, focused exclusively on equine photography. Brave I know, but I think my background in and understanding of horses and their owners might give me an edge. Or an in, at any rate!

Clearly a website is kinda important.

I'm totally un-techy, but having been stuffed by website designers in the past want at least to be as well informed as possible or even do it myself.

Am told Wordpress and Linux is the way to go. Any comments?

And what would be amazing would be pointers to a theme which has worked for others. I'm browsing the Wordpress catalogue and my brain is being fried by the choice.

My current thoughts on what I should have:

Clean and light design

Ability for clients to access their images with a password

A blog, really a series of short articles

Don't think I need e-commerce, I'm not planning on selling stock images.

Ideas advice do's and don'ts MUCH appreciated. Thanks!

I was going to respond as my first clients were horses but realized our needs were opposite.

My site is incredibly basic   and simply offers portfolio images.  Self maintained and no active host.

If there is a theme it is that the images speak for themselves. Grey dark grey  gallery style background.

I do not offer customer access to anything -  no business takes place.

I do not blog as I find it self indulgent and a bit pompous. If I can't resist a journey through the past I do it on FB since those people were the participants anyways. They understand. They were there.

-- hide signature --

dw

KE_DP
KE_DP Veteran Member • Posts: 5,589
Re: Website theme choice and design considerations advice please

I'm totally un-techy, but having been stuffed by website designers in the past want at least to be as well informed as possible or even do it myself.

Am told Wordpress and Linux is the way to go. Any comments?

I haven't looked overly close at Wordpress, but the little I saw it looked really messy tech-wise.  I lost interest in trying to develop with it.

On OSX something simple like Sparkle would do great for a simple website with galleries etc.

But wanting client service galleries, proofing, password protection, downloads etc. I would really look into something like Zenfolio.

 KE_DP's gear list:KE_DP's gear list
Sony a7R III Sony a7R IV
BAK Forum Pro • Posts: 24,785
Commissioned customers or speculative clients

Are you planning  to take commissioned pictures once an agreement is reached, and then post proofs of those pictures. And the client orders from this proofs.

Or are you planning to shoot speculative pictures, shooting the most interesting pictures of what is going on, in the hope that once the horse owners see the great shots, they will decide to buy pictures?

Will web visitors be able to see horse pictures owned by lots of people, or only horses they have password access to?

Is one purpose of the web site to set up a business relationship with owners before the horse show, race, rodeo, etc.? Then you go to Red Deer and photograph a bronc trying to dislodge Kaila Mussell?

BAK

OP Dweeble Regular Member • Posts: 112
Re: Website theme choice and design considerations advice please

Now this "According to experts I've talked to, it doesn't matter which you use, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or whatever your potential clients are on. What matters is that you personally find it easy and convenient to use. If it's a pain in the haunch you'll never post." Makes total sense.........another learning curve to scramble up!

Blogs can be very self-indulgent, but I think they can work well for explaining and discussing things which can't be covered in the space available on a phone screen.

Photodeck looks brilliant but although fairly intuitive seems to assume a rather French approach to logic and structure, which is NOT me!

Zenfolio doesn't seem a whole heap easier than Format and costs a bit more....so I'm battling with Format. Kinda getting there. Slowly. Unless Photodeck blow me away with advice when they get back to work tomorrow!

Good news is my FIRST real client (I did say I was starting out) burst into tears of delight when I dropped off her prints this morning....a nice feeling!

 Dweeble's gear list:Dweeble's gear list
Nikon D300 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR
OP Dweeble Regular Member • Posts: 112
Re: Commissioned customers or speculative clients

BAK wrote:

Are you planning to take commissioned pictures once an agreement is reached, and then post proofs of those pictures. And the client orders from this proofs.

This

Or are you planning to shoot speculative pictures, shooting the most interesting pictures of what is going on, in the hope that once the horse owners see the great shots, they will decide to buy pictures?

NO, well covered already

Will web visitors be able to see horse pictures owned by lots of people, or only horses they have password access to?

Will get model releases, most people will be cool but needs to be done.

Is one purpose of the web site to set up a business relationship with owners before the horse show, race, rodeo, etc.? Then you go to Red Deer and photograph a bronc trying to dislodge Kaila Mussell?

Sounds fun, but I'm in the UK where the only rodeos are those put on by the horses themselves when a helicopter flies over low. Or they see an ice-cream wrapper on the road. Or they just feel like seeing you on the floor

BAK

 Dweeble's gear list:Dweeble's gear list
Nikon D300 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR
BAK Forum Pro • Posts: 24,785
Re: Commissioned customers or speculative clients

Then pick a UK example.

The point remains the same; do you want horse owners to go to Google and search for horse photographers and then look at your site days or weeks before an event, contact you, hire you to photograph their horse, hire you to photograph the rider, the trailer and matching range Rover, and so on.

Or are you going to arrange some other method of initial contact, leaving the web site as a follow-up?

MAYBE I AM THINKING WRONG

I've been thinking you'll go to horse sports events, where there are lots of horses and owners,  but maybe your plan is to go visit individual farms where there is only one paying client (human) but could be several horses and several people riding those horses.

Take this into account in you webdesign.

BAK

PeterGuyton.com
PeterGuyton.com Senior Member • Posts: 2,330
Re: Website theme choice and design considerations advice please

There are a lot of options for sure and I agree with one of the other posts that Social Media is more important these days. I know one successful photographer in Florida who uses Social to point back to his website and visa versa.  He often blogs about "how to" topics which draw in a ton of hits.

That said, Social is limited in terms of photo size and resolution (e.g. Instagram resizes down to 1350px long side portrait orientation, 1024 or something like that for square) so a strong/large gallery website is, I think , still a great way for potential clients to get a better look.

Besides Format.com , I saw a beautiful site the other day created with https://www.goodgallery.com/  ... may be worth a look. But there are tons out there as you are finding out.

Anyway good luck. If you don't need a "shopping cart" type sales front end, then there's no need to pay for that only to go unused (e.g zenfolio, photoshelter) unless you just lover there templates.

 PeterGuyton.com's gear list:PeterGuyton.com's gear list
Sony a9 Sony a7R III Sony FE 55mm F1.8 Zeiss Batis 25mm F2 Sony FE 70-200mm F2.8 GM OSS +13 more
OP Dweeble Regular Member • Posts: 112
Re: Website theme choice and design considerations advice please

Thanks everyone for your input!

Went with Format in the end, by far the simplest. If I can do it.........

A VERY unpolished first version is up at www.equimage.co.uk

Not publicising it yet as there are many images to load, typos and links to fix, etc but the bones seem to be there.

Comments and suggestions very welcome

 Dweeble's gear list:Dweeble's gear list
Nikon D300 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR
OP Dweeble Regular Member • Posts: 112
Re: Website theme choice and design considerations advice please

Update......Format is formatting nicely. I suspect it might be light on features needed if you actually sell images online but OMG the guys there are helpful and efficient. Really first class service! Very impressed indeed.

 Dweeble's gear list:Dweeble's gear list
Nikon D300 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR
TheGrammarFairy Regular Member • Posts: 132
Beautiful Work

that opening photo is a stunner....however looking at it on my iPhone here in the US, your name runs across the horse’s eye. Is it possible to change the way the lines break?

OP Dweeble Regular Member • Posts: 112
Re: Beautiful Work

Thanks for the compliment, GF!

I see what you mean...have checked on my Sony Xperia and it looks OK on that.....I think tweaking it is beyond my capabilities but will ask Format about it later....

 Dweeble's gear list:Dweeble's gear list
Nikon D300 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR
TheGrammarFairy Regular Member • Posts: 132
Re: Beautiful Work

Life was much easier when  your only worry was whether or not it was time to mix up a fresh batch of developer.

I see what you mean...have checked on my Sony Xperia and it looks OK on that.....I think tweaking it is beyond my capabilities but will ask Format about it later....

OP Dweeble Regular Member • Posts: 112
Re: Beautiful Work
1

Indeed, says I, despite having never seen the inside of a darkroom.......

I think I'll bypass that stage and go straight to carbon transfer printing

Well I would if failure wasn't guaranteed - but what a magical process. Can't wait to find a client rich enough to commission a carbon transfer print.

 Dweeble's gear list:Dweeble's gear list
Nikon D300 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR
J C Strange
J C Strange New Member • Posts: 10
Re: Website theme choice and design considerations advice please

After ages of looking around and using different services, I finally settled on Pixpa. They are GREAT and the prices are some of the best out there. My website is www.jcstrange.com if you want a sample. I also have a coupon code or something I think if you want it.

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Soli Deo Gloria

 J C Strange's gear list:J C Strange's gear list
Nikon D7100 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-105mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD Tamron SP 90mm F2.8 Di VC USD Macro +1 more
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