Want to make a professional website

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by SuzanneR, Jul 31, 2006.

  1. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The past two years or so I have been working parttime making portraits. My marketing has been word of mouth. As a mac user, I have a "homepage" that is just a template that I use through .mac. It's fine for showing work, but the design is a little boring, and I think a more custom and professioanal design would show the work better. As my youngest is finally off to kindergarten in September, this fall will be time to transition to more full time work. I figure, a little marketing may be in order!

    I like to think of myself as a reasonably good photographer, but a lousy designer, and a complete idiot when it comes to website stuff. I'd love to find some kind of easy to use well designed template to drop my photos/text/contact info into. I have found a few resources, but would like to know if anyone else has used a website design service. How much did it cost? How easy or hard was it to get the site up and running? How did the hosting work?

    Your thoughts?
     
  2. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Suzanne, just sent you a PM..

    Dave
     
  3. blaze-on

    blaze-on Member

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    My only advice (seeing as my photo site is not running yet) is to hire someone locally or at least will be available to you and for you. Possibly a student who needs to have a "real" site on their resume.

    Many so called web designers have no design abilities, but know how to format.

    Keep it simple yet elegant.

    Look for someone who has done art sites, or look at many sites you find appealing and use them for samples of what you're looking for and go from there.

    Should you hire someone with experience, a decent site (custom) designed and formatted for under/around $1k would be fair, as the competition out there for web "designers" is fearsome...

    You can also put out a request for bid on Craigs list and cater it to your area.
    Just my 5 cents worth...
     
  4. Pragmatist

    Pragmatist Member

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    Keep with the times

    Suzanne, there are a number of things to keep in mind when embarking on a web presence. Until not too long ago, the majority of sites were built with web authoring software (FrontPage, Dreamweaver, etcetera). Unless you were authoring the site yourself, changes and updates would put you at the mercy of your web designer & host. Not to mention the complexity of doing it yourself, as you would have to author the changes, and then upload them to your site.

    The new trend is called CMS (Content Management System). Many of the sites are now using it, and one that everyone is familiar with would be Weather.com, and from a discussion perspective, this one. CMS sites are generally based on a specially scripted template and system, such as Joomla or PHP Nuke. The great thing about that is the framework is open source, meaning it is free. Custom templates or designed templates are where you can incur some cost.

    The beauty of the CMS is that if you can use a word processor, you can make changes and upload pictures and galleries yourself without the assistance of a web guru. You will need a host, someone to set it up for you per your design requirements, and you are essentially ready to go. Everything is accessable from an administrative interface, and it is relatively easy to integrate PayPal into the mix if you wish to do online sales. My preference in Joomla. Check out the deal at http://www.joomla.org

    For a variety of templates and a view of some of the possibilities, check out the club templates section at http://www.rockettheme.com .
     
  5. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    I have to disagree on the design abilities Matt, there are quite a few out there that have the abilites, its just most people don't want to pay for them, just like many a customer don't want to pay the price for a fine art prints, since the advent of many of the wysiwig editors, every Tom, Dick and Harry thinks they can do a quick website for Friday night beer money...which is a sad thing, just as since the advent of digital cameras, every body thinks they are a photographer!....Professional web design does cost money and it also involves quite a bit more than just doing the website and hosting it...

    Dave
     
  6. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    matt magruder does very nice websites, too (scootermm) here on apug.

    my one suggestion: no flash!
     
  7. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi suzanne

    whatever you do, flash or html or ???, make sure it will be easy for you to update your info, add pages &C. i had a site designed several years ago, it was all html --- i pretty much updated it / made new pages &C &C &C, and it was easy but it alway took a long time to do. adobe made some sort of ez $50 website drag+drop web design program that made it really easy ( since i know very little code) ... i think the program is usually given away as a bundle these days ...

    the site i have now, is flash, not html, and it is a bit easier to get images up /remove add galleries &C ... i wouldn't say it is better, but it is easier for me to manage just the same ...

    it all depends on how much you want to fiddle with it and how patient you are.

    good luck!
    john
     
  8. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    I designed my own professional site using Apple's iWeb software. iWeb comes bundled in Apple's iLife'06 package. Cost $79.00.

    http://www.walterpcalahan.com

    My previous site cost $1500. The new site is getting better response.
     
  9. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

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  10. Drew B.

    Drew B. Subscriber

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    I'm glad this thread was started...good info for the "no website" photographer.
     
  11. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    FWIW, from someone who cannot program a vcr let alone a web page, I recommend an intuitively easy to read layout for your readers. I, and many of the folks I know who are web readers will simply leave a flash page or one which is too busy without reading them unless we KNOW there is something there for us.

    cheers
     
  12. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Thanks everyone for the help and PM's. It seems there are a lot of choices out there, and shouldn't be too hard to get something going!
     
  13. jansengunderson

    jansengunderson Member

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    Suzanne, at the risk of being redundant, I've designed many sites for both myself and others and even tried some of the open source CMS sites out there.

    The site software I've finally settled on is called pixelpost. It is meant to be photoblogging software but it is easily customizable and has quite a few pre-designed templates already available for it. Once it's running, it requires absolutely no HTML or any other coding to add photographs to. Additionally, it is by far the easiest to install and get up and running out of all the content managements systems I've tried.

    If you're interested you can see my site up and running here: www.jansengunderson.com

    I'd be happy to lend a hand if you're interested in it.
     
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  15. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    The trouble with most CMS software is that it is almost as difficult to use as learning HTML.... All the freeware ones I have looked at have badly written manuals (where they have one at all) and assume that you already understand the concepts behind the way the CMS works. They tend to have acres of documentation on how to create new templates and other techie areas, but little on the basics of how to get a usable site up and running and organize the pages.

    I've looked at several of them (Drupal, Joomla, Mambo, PHP-Nuke, PHP Website, Post-Nuke and Xoops - I've not tried pixelpost!) and decided that the simplest of them is actually the best for my purposes - namely Drupal. Look at Michael Kenna's site (http://www.michaelkenna.net/): a clean design like that would be relatively easy to code, or build in Drupal.

    Having said all that, the site I started building in Drupal (www.bobfphoto.com) has been in its present very unfinished testing state for over 6 months and for my business site I used Dreamweaver... :surprised:

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  16. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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  17. MenacingTourist

    MenacingTourist Member

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    Suzanne,

    I always cringe a little when I see posts like yours. Why not do what you do best and let the Designer do what they do best. I'm talking trade here. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Designers love photography. You're in a good area (East coast) to find some awsome talent. Don't settle for some cheese-eating kid who "knows" Photoshop and Dreamweaver. You can afford to wait for the right person.

    Start networking and find the Designer you want to do your site and trade with him/her. Everybody wins.

    Then again cash is always nice :smile:
     
  18. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    As I've done the el cheapo route already, I think it's time to get a professionally designed website for myself, Alan. I hope I didn't give the impression that I want to do it myself. I'm not a designer by any stretch of the imagination, and even less of a computer geek. So.. I am certainly willing to pay (or trade!). I'm just trying to get an idea about what to pay.

    I have found a few online services that design templates specifically for photographers, one of which has some designs I quite like. I just wanted to know if there are other's out there. I've been looking at lots of photographers' websites, too for ideas.

    BobF... I quite like Gallery 1 on your site.

    And a general question... what is wrong with flash? Don't get me wrong, I don't want to Las Vegas blinking light type of display, but I don't mind scrolling through a series of images where the fade in and out between them when you click an arrow.
     
  19. HeliH

    HeliH Member

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    Suzanne, I agree with Cheryl. It doesn't need too much learning to get started to make your own website. I did mine also myself: www.kuvakonttuuri.fi Well, my site doesn't look very professional but I'm not a professional photographer and yet I have clients...

    And want to add, please, do not use flash. Flash-sites look good but I know too many people, including me, who don't even open the pages made with flash. And don't make it too complicated. Keep it simple and stylish is always the best. IMO :smile:.
     
  20. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    It's a freebee (though it does use Flash...). Some display details are customizable. You can download it at http://www.airtightinteractive.com/simpleviewer/

    I do think the idea of trading with a local web designer is your best bet - I didn't think of that...

    Good luck, Bob.
     
  21. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    Trades sound good, but what is a ballpark figure (or range) a good designer would charge for a basic photo web site?

    Jon
     
  22. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Hey John.. I'm gathering from my research that you can find "do it yourself" templates for as little as about $100. The designs aren't great, but certainly useable. Then I've found some better designed templates anywhere from about $400 to $800. Blaze-on mentioned earlier in a thread that about $1K for having a custom web design.

    Once you really start looking, there are an awful lot of choices out there, and it really looks to be pretty easy.
     
  23. Joe Lipka

    Joe Lipka Member

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    My web site is DIY. I took a course at the local tech college on web design. I continue to have a bunch of fun with the site. Disclaimer here - I am sort of a geek in occupation. But, right now it's kind of the perfect storm of photography, art and geek so I get to be pretty happy about it.

    One of the issues that you will find out that can be a problem in web design is content. It's not the time taken to design and create the web site, it's in the time and effort taken in preparing the content. I see this quite a bit. A photographer will have a really nice web site design that shows about eighteen photographs. That's because the web designers charge to prepare the content.

    Just something else you need to consider.
     
  24. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    Thanks Suzanne, I'd be willing to spend a couple hundred, but would like a template that doesn't look like a template or corporate design...

    Jon
     
  25. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    My site, www.desmidt.net, was my first (and only) one. It took me about two days using Dreamweaver MX. So basicially one day to learn Dreamweaver and one day to get the design/content up. Add another couple of days to scan prints. The problem is, I haven't updated it in a long time, and now I'll have to spend a day learning Dreamweaver again. :sad:

    I did use frames, which I've heard isn't a good idea. Basicially, search engines can link to one frame without the other popping up. Personally, I don't think this is a big deal, as you can always have links to the main page from any of the pages. Supposedly, the way to do it is with a table. That way you get the advantages of frames, such as always having a header with link information or whatever, but you don't need frames.

    In any case, does learning a little web design sound like fun? If so, give it a try. Even if it doesn't work out, you'll have learned enough to help you talk to a designer. If it doesn't sound like fun, farm it out. I wouldn't use a template. I'd rather get a wysiwyg program like Dreamweaver.
     
  26. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Something that I have been looking at is turning my Mac into a webserver. It's actually quite easy if you read a book such as Mac OS10, The Missing Manual. All you need is a static IP address and a reasonably fast DSL Lite connection. From there you can work in any software on your machine that saves/codes in HTML such as Appleworks. There is also a firewall on your machine to use. Just another idea that some may be interested in.