In Monday’s post, I discussed the tendency of photographers to create websites that have lots of bells and whistles, but that don’t necessarily put the priorities and interests of their audience first. Here are five tips for designing a website with your customer in mind:
1. Mimic the real world.
If you are a wedding photographer, the look and feel of your site should be similar to a wedding album. It should have the softness and warmth to reflect that event. If you are an artist, your site should be similar to viewing images in a gallery. The backgrounds should be clean and non-distracting — just as if you were viewing photographs on a wall. Remember, your audience is used to looking at images in a particular way and you do not want to make them uncomfortable looking at your work.
2. Transition is important.
The transition from one image to another should be simple, quick and non-distracting. Soft blends or dissolves are fine. Wipes, smears, revolving boxes etc. interfere with the viewer’s tempo. It is also important that the time between one image and the next be minimal. A dissolve should not take more than a second. A quick cut has a somewhat brutal effect and should be used with caution.
3. Flexibility is vital.
Going from one image to the next is important, but navigation is key. Most buyers, gallery owners and clients like to flip back and forth between images. They do not always go in a straight line and your site design should consider this.
4. Plan site architecture first.
The site architecture should be considered first as part of your initial design process. Your navigation bar, page set-up, and flow should be planned from the start. Professional designers do not always have a clear picture of how the navigation and flow should work in your specific business. They need guidance!
5. Different browsers show different pages.
My browser is set up to show my fonts as Verdana 12 point but my neighbor’s may be set up to show them as Times 9 point. My fonts on a Mac show up smaller than if they were seen on a Windows system. It is important to test your site on both operating systems and with as many browsers as possible. If you want your site to look the same on all platforms, make sure you or your designer knows how to use cascading style sheets. It’s not that difficult to learn, but it sure helps if you want consistency.
This should get you off to a good start in designing a website or working with a designer. You don’t always have to follow all the rules — but make sure when you break them, it’s for a good reason.