You only need about 70 images for your website, which should be broken down into projects and very clearly signposted, says Victoria Forrest of Smith Design, who recently created this for Stuart Freedman.
Smith Design specialises in designing books, logos, identities and websites, and has worked with photographers and institutions such as Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, Martin Parr, James Nachtwey, Brighton Photo Biennial and Photoworks. Victoria Forrest of Smith Design shares with BJP some key points behind what makes a good photography website, as part of our 11 Tips for 2011 series
Your site will probably cost between £2000 and £5000. If you can get it for less, well done, but if a friend is doing it cheap, bear in mind it will probably take longer, because they will be fitting it around other work. Programmers and designers do different jobs, so make sure you have a designer – programmers don’t necessarily have an overall vision of what the site should look like, and can suddenly go off piste. Ideally, you will have a designer and a programmer who regularly work together.
If you want your website to be modular, tell the designer early on because they will need to set up the whole system with that in mind. But think carefully about whether it’s worth it – creating a website that can be updated can be so expensive that you might as well just refresh the whole lot every once in a while. You could have a blog or news section you regularly add to. You need to refresh your website at least once a year, even if you’re only adding three or four images. Try to go back to the same designer and programmer. If you don’t, it may be as easy for them to start again as to try to understand someone else’s language.
Have as few clicks as possible – people hate clicking and scrolling, so make it easy for them. Make sure the finest level of detail is a maximum of three clicks away from the home page, and have clear directions such as “previous” and “next” and “click here”. Consider having a page of thumbnails providing a visual web of everything that’s on the site – we did that recently for Stuart Freedman’s site. Or have a single image on the home page that refreshes through the content. Make sure your images stand out: the pictures should speak for themselves, but include as much HTML information as possible. Our site is filled with an incredible amount of information, including things like ISBN numbers and book publishers. If someone does a search for that book, publisher or number, our site will come up.
Approach editing your pictures like editing a book – only use the best images, divide them into sections, and assume you won’t change them once the site is finished, because the chances are you won’t. You don’t need very many images – 70 is plenty. It’s about seven sections of 10 images each, which is about right. IPad applications are an excellent way to show images, but it might be best to wait for the technology to develop. At the moment they’re difficult to program, so you’re working around the program rather than the program helping you. If you do decide to have one, have the same look as feel as your website. Apps, websites and traditional books are all portfolios, and they should all have the same look and feel. That way you start to get a brand going.
This article, and the other 10 tips from our panel of experts [to be published each day until 31 January], were first appeared in BJP's January issue, published on 05 January 2011. It's still available for purchase from your nearest newsagent until 02 February 2011. To find your nearest newsagent, check our Store Finder.
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