Project Web Gallery
Internet has changed the way we experience and access information. In today’s world for any individual or businesses, it is very important to have a web presence. A website is an electronic presentation of your portfolio or services. In fact, it is one of the most important marketing tools. It is not only easily accessible and convenient, but also makes advertising more cost effective. Of course, the efforts and time involved can vary, depending on the exposure one requires in the market. Web presence also makes it easy to access the power and the benefits of social media marketing. Keeping these and many more advantages in mind, I have established my website since in 2009. My website mostly represents a portfolio of travel images. If you are interested, these images can be viewed at www.lenstrail.com.
Idea of building a website is more complex than one can think of. To begin with, I had to decide what exactly was the objective behind building a web presence. Is it just for displaying the images for friends and family? Or will the website act as a portfolio for my work? Do I plan to sale my art through the website? These and many more aspects of design and e-commerce were considered, at the time of conceptualizing. Initial objective behind building the website was to demonstrate the portfolio however, it had to be scalable. As in, I required a service provider that was more than just a hosting agent. I looked-for a professional and Ecommerce savvy website. I was aware that I could design the layout (thanks to my web-designing background), but did not possess any programming knowledge to handle the backend. That meant, I was entirely dependent on the companies that would provide a full solution. After thorough research, I decided to go with www.photoshelter.com. It had most of the features that I was looking for. It has some minor constrains however; they are quite insignificant compared to the benefits. I already had a domain name registered with www.godaddy.com. Now between both the providers my website www.lenstrail.com was hosted successfully. It is mainly a travel photography related website. It doesn’t have a direct connection with the OCA course however, mentioning it here was important, as that is much robust website than the one I plan to set up for the course project (as I am looking at the free options). After discussions with my tutor we decided to have the project separately displayed from my website. This is done to ensure that the viewer’s attention is not diverted.
The following aspects were considered in conceptualizing both the sites to ensure the maximum benefits out of web presence.
- The gallery should look great and is a positive reflection of my work.
- The design is consistent in logo, typeface, colour palette, and other elements that are giving identity to the site.
- As this is photography website the importance should be on the photos and not the graphics of the website.
- Pleasant experience to ensure returning clients
- Contact details are easily accessible
- Text should be clear and easy to read
- Clean and simple design
There are many articles available on the Internet that explains design aspects in depth, pasting some links here.
- Easy navigation
- Faster loading. A busy editor or a viewer will not have the time or patience to wait for the images or pages to load (this part is described in length below).
- Search engine optimization
- Publicly searchable
- Personalized domain name (or it should have the possibility of using it in conjunction with other service provider)
- Nested gallery option
- Easy UI (for me as well as for the end user)
- User-friendly e-commerce interface
- Good customer support
- Reliable provider
- Vendor service for the product (photo) delivery
- Non-flash site (as flash cannot be optimised for the search engines)
- Full screen option (at the moment, I am compromising on this. Once I generate steady cash flow, I plan to purchase an option that will enable full screen display within Photoshelter’s interface.)
- Robust image protection
Photoshelter also provides a reasonable amount of image protection by placing invisible watermarks. It also automatically downsizes the images for screen display (to ensure faster loading and image protection) however; high-resolution images are available for download with password access or after payment. Ways of protecting you images are described in the following blogs in details.
Protecting your images
http://blog.photoshelter.com/2010/09/five-things-you-can-do-to-protect-your-online-imag/ Accessed on 25/06/2012
http://www.makethephoto.com/articles/how-to-protect-your-images-online Accessed on 25/06/2012
http://www.naturefocused.com/articles/image-protection.html Accessed on 25/06/2012
Project web gallery
For the Project web gallery, I was not too concerned about the ecommerce part. As it is just to demonstrate module specific learning. Hence, I was looking for a possibility that is free of cost and easy to use. I have explored the following options for building the website.
Above mentioned both the options did not have html templates, and I was not keen for the flash based site. As it can take a lot of time to load. As per statistics viewers leave a website that takes more than 2 seconds to load, check more here http://munchweb.com/effect-of-website-speed Accessed on 28/5/2012. Moreover, if I plan to do search engine optimization than flash is not readable by most of the search engines. I also found the interface for above 2 services bit difficult to follow. Viewbook had some very nice templates, but it is not a free web hosting service. Finally (though I am not complete satisfied), I have settled for the HTML 5 version of www.wix.com to display some of the images from my archives. It is available for free, which was one of the deciding factors. The subject for this project gallery is “Faces”. It displays some of the faces covered in last few years of my travels across the world. In spite of being two separate web sites, they still have a coherent theme for the subject and colour scheme.
- I have kept the gallery layout simple and uncluttered with a plain background to show the images at their best.
- Navigation menu is clear and easily accessible from all the pages.
- Under the portfolio tab, the images are displayed as thumbnails for ease of browsing. It has an option to enlarge images.
- I have provided separate page, which provides information about me
- A separate tab for DPP learning blog and personal website with screen shots makes the page more interesting.
- I have also included a social media buttons on each page, which takes the viewers to respective pages.
Basic principal for this gallery as well as my other website is quality over quantity. Hence, the selection available is limited. Click on the image below to have a look at the website created with wix.
Tracking the traffic:
Once the website is established one can just choose to leave it the way it is or work on gaining the popularity by deploying little marketing and technological strategies. I do not have some knowledge of this and when ever possible I try to find time to promote the website. There are many ways of doing this like using Google adwords, doing search engine optimization, setting up newsletters and email marketing, affiliate programmes and many more.
I find the best ways to track the effects of you marketing campaign is through Google Analytics. I have set up lenstrail domain for this.
Other publishing services:
To experiment, I have also set up a blog with the same theme “Faces” on WordPress. I am quite happy with it however; it does not have full screen option or ecommerce function available. On the other hand it is more accessible by the search engines and has an options for visitor’s comments. That means more traffic, and potentially higher conversion rate for sale. Click here to see the website/blog established with wordpress that also serves the same purpose.
I am aware that web exposure increases the risk of theft of the image, copyright violation or stealing of the content idea (the intellectual property theft). To a certain extent this can be traced with TinEye. TinEye is a reverse image search engine. You can submit an image to TinEye to find out where it came from, how it is being used, if modified versions of the image exist, or to find higher resolution versions. TinEye is the first image search engine on the web to use image identification technology…… http://www.tineye.com/about Accessed on 27/05/2012
Hosting web gallery has made me revisit the research, I had put in few years back (that is before launching my website). I am even more convinced that Photoshelter is the right choice for my requirements. Knowing that, I will give a boost to the plans I have made for the promotions of www.lenstrail.com. Supporting it with various blogs will be one of the initial strategies. As mentioned earlier there are few limitations within Photoshelter, that I am sure will be resolved with time. If not, I am still okay to compromise as they are not the showstoppers. The full screen option is something; I am most keen to change at the moment. I will take care of it once a steady cash flow is generated through www.lenstrail.com. The look I am aiming for can achieved by combining Photoshelter with graphpaperpress templates. However, it is an additional cost for me. Example of the look can be seen on Gavin Gough’s website, see the screenshot below:
After listening to feedback and tips from many editors, and as a personal preference I would prefer lighter colours scheme for my website.