Nature Photography & Luxury Fine Art Blog: Brand New Website
Over the past 10 years I have had websites from four different services, each a bit better than the previous yet all still lacking in one area or another. My first website was hosted by a company I cannot even remember the name of! You can tell the lasting impression it made on me. Let's just say I would be terrified to have a flashback of that website today and I am both proud and relieved at the progress I've made over the last decade both as a photographer and in my personal style but we will talk more about that in a bit.
My second website, the first one I was truly excited about, was created using Photoshelter. For the most part it was a good experience but I never liked the way the site looked with small images and quirks that just made me crazy half the time. That being said, I do not know anything about Photoshelter or their service today so I will simply leave it at that.
My third website was built using Big Black Bag. This was the first website that I was able to put some of my own creativity into as this was about the time when companies started creating admin panels on the back end of their sites, adding this feature as both a service and a selling point for their customers. This change in the industry afforded people like me, with no knowledge of coding or web design at all, to create their own more personalized websites. If you ask my wife Lisa....this is where everything went south.
Obviously, as a photographer, I am a fairly creative person. Who better to design my website than me? Am I right? I mean, so what I like crazy fonts? Don't you!? Less is more? Who says? I like my websites to be dark, smooth and then when you least expect it, I want it to slap you upside the head with my photographs and my beautiful, decretive fonts! As a matter of fact I like crazy. Luckily for me and probably for you too, I have a very sensible and no-nonsense wife who is usually there to keep me from getting into trouble. The key word is usually. You see, I tend to stay up late, editing images and tinkering with my website. Lisa has learned that she should probably take a peek at it now and then because chances are I turned my name and logo into some bright blue calligraphy font when she wasn't looking and just ran with it. I probably added a new blog post as well where I said at least three things I shouldn't have, added a kick ass photo collage to it showcasing my 50 favorite photos of the day and then slapped my new blue super-font on it before hitting publish and going to sleep. The next morning, there is Lisa having breakfast shaking her head. "I don't like it", she says. Oh no she found the fonts!!! I hang my head in shame knowing what I have done was wrong and promise to change it back as soon as possible. This happens more often than I care to admit. I don't know if you know this or not but there are a LOT of cool fonts out there. I am simply blessed that I have a wife with far more common sense than I have.
My last website was leaps and bounds ahead of my previous websites and this one was created by Squarespace. Now, I will say that I really like Squarespace. If you do not have a need for a custom built website or you really, really like to tinker without knowing anything at all then a service like Squarespace is great. In fact, my experience the past year and a half with their service helped me understand what I really wanted from a website. I was able to use that experience, along with my wife's better judgement to help direct Jack Brauer, owner of WideRange Galleries (I'm really sorry for all the emails Jack) and his designer Raza Durrani to create a beautiful, clean and functional website all without a single blue font.
So Why A New Custom Built Site?
As I mentioned above, I personally liked my Squarespace site so why did I decide to have a custom one built?
Visually, Squarespace gave me the ability to do most things I wanted to, even though I had to use creative work-arounds from time to time. For me, the problem was with final design for the end user and SEO.
The bulk of my business is in selling large-format Fine Art photography prints. With Squarespace, not enough thought, or care was put into the structure of sales on their websites. If I wanted to do something as simple as changing the price of my prints, I had to drill into and edit each product one at a time. That alone was enough to make me want to bail, but there’s more. Although I could accomplish just about anything with Squarespace if I thought about it long enough, these challenges often led to two or three step work-arounds that sometimes confused potential customers. Even though I tried multiple ways to explain the print purchase and checkout options on the site, more often than not, a potential customer would just reach out to me via email instead and I would end up sending a PayPal invoice in an effort to keep it simple. What good is a shopping cart if no one uses it? As a business selling products online, I want to make it as easy as possible for my customers. Most of us have very short attention spans. The last thing I want to do is to give someone an excuse to leave my site, or time to get distracted by some other shiny object. The truth is that people want simple.
The second and equally important reason for the switch was Search Engine Optimization. Although the Squarespace framework was set up for decent SEO, as a photographer selling multiple products I needed something more. The WideRange sites created by Jack allowed me to input titles, locations, captions and create unique URLs for every image. This is all critical information for both my customers and Google. The ability to input this relevant information, paired with the extremely well thought out admin panel on the back end, made setting up my website a breeze.
Finally, lets talk about responsive images. For us, it's all about the images. We use 50mp cameras and 4k monitors and above all else want our images to be big and beautiful, looking their best on desktops, tablets and mobile devices. The product Jack has built here does just that with ALL images being truly responsive site-wide so images always look their best.
If you are a photographer and you have been looking for a new website, consider investing in yourself and your work by looking into WideRange Galleries. Jack was a pleasure to work with, was incredibly patient, even for his most scatterbrained clients (that would be me) and was clear and concise from the moment I reached out to him. You simply can't go wrong working with Jack and Raza. If you would like to have a look for yourself, please take a stroll through my website or the many other testimonials and examples over on the WideRange site. If you end up working with him, please let Jack know I sent you.
Thank you so much Jack and Raza!