Creating a photo website - part 2

Whoa, what gives? Yes, you are absolutely reading about a Wordpress-based photography site on a blog that is no longer based on Wordpress. I seemed to get a fair bit of traffic on my site from people wondering how to do this, so I am leaving these posts here for posterity. That said, the internet world has evolved quite a bit in the last four years, so I now use a system that is simpler in some ways, but immensely flexible. So read about this newer flat-file CMS approach as I document it over the next few months.

The previous post discussed what I view as the essential requirements of a photographer’s website. Now I will discuss some of the pros and cons of each approach.

  1. Use a photo-sharing site such as Picasa, Flickr, Photobucket, etc..
  • Pros ** Easy to use ** Often free ** Easy for others to find ** Offers the opportunity for people to just stumble into your work ** Tagging opportunities allow your work to be seen by people just randomly surfing the site for something like “Hawaiian surfing porn”

  • Cons ** Limited control over the overall appearance of your web ‘presence’. You are showing photos on a site someone else thinks looks good ** No differentiation in the presentation of your work from a gazillion other photographers ** Doesn’t make it appear you like to go to much trouble to do anything

  1. Create a hand-coded HTML/CSS static site
  • Pros ** Lots of visual flexibility. The appearance of the site is limited only by your ability to code well written HTML and CSS code ** Lots of potential for individuality. If you want a scandinavian death metal look-and-feel for your site, this approach may be your best bet

  • Cons ** This approach requires either an innate knowledge of HTML/CSS coding techniques, or a big fat billfold to pay someone who does have it ** adding additional photo content can be difficult. There are some canned solutions that maintain galleries and so forth, but then you end up back at the problem with the first approach: you are using someone else’s idea of how a gallery should look ** changing your design can be a major effort. Using CSS will mitigate a lot of this, but if you make any major structural changes in your site design, you may be back to square one.

  1. Adapt blogging software such as Wordpress or Textdrive to create a dynamic, database-driven website
  • Pros ** getting a basic website live is almost as easy as using one of the photosharing sites ** Most of the blogging software is available under the GPL or Creative Commons license - e.g. it is free ** Very easy to add content - whether visual or text-based ** Appearance is very flexible - by using themes you can alter the look of a website with a button push

  • Cons ** Visual appearance is flexible, but not quite as flexible as a code-it-from-the-ground-up approach using HTML. Making major visual changes will require some level of knowledge of CSS and HTML and quite possible the scripting language PHP ** Will require you to get an internet hosting plan that allows database access using a MySQL database. Most ISPs offer this option now, and it normally is no big deal to get this capability added to your hosting plan. ** Level of difficulty is midway between photosharing approach and hand-coded HTML approach

Here is how I see the three possibilities:

Photo website possibility matrix

categories:  web design, presentation, portfolio, marketing