How User-Friendly Is Your Photography Website?

Photography | August 16th 2010
Creating a user-friendly photography website might seem like a no-brainer. I mean, all it takes is uploading a few pictures, right?
Wrong! Although photography websites don’t pose a big technological challenge (especially when using Wix), they are nevertheless prone to becoming victims of common web design mistakes. In fact, their relative simplicity highlights every single tiny glitch with each mistake costing you visitors and potential leads.
We put together a set of questions to help you see whether your website is pulling visitors in or pushing them out. So is your website user friendly? Read these to find out.
  1. Do First Time Visitors Understand Where They Landed?
Just because the homepage has a magnificent set of photos doesn’t automatically spell out a “Photography Website”. Almost every website out there uses a lovely photo or a gallery on the homepage, even when the service offered has nothing to do with photography. Often we encounter photographers that created truly great designs, uploaded their best work and created a fantastic gallery but wrote nothing but their name for the page title.
Unless you’re playing a guessing game with the site visitors, this is not a good strategy. Especially for commercial work. If the name of your company does not imply Photography, use a tagline. If you specialize in a certain type of photography – real estate, fashion, landscape – make sure that the title, tagline or introduction text make it clear.
Sure, the site’s visitors will eventually understand your type of work if and when they navigate to your “About” section but that’s missing the point. Being user-friendly means making your visitors’ experience as easy and as quick as possible.
How User-Friendly Is Your Photography Website Photo by RE-Photography
  1. Is Your Navigation Too Complicated?
Run a little test with someone who’s never browsed your site and ask them how easy did they find their way around. Best use the help of someone who’s web savvy, a teenager or a web designer. These people know exactly where to search for the navigation menu and where buttons should be located. If their navigation process wasn’t intuitive, if they had to stall to find relevant information or if they didn’t what’s behind a certain button, you should reconsider your current navigation.
An important thing to realize is that navigation doesn’t end with the must-have menu that appears on every page. Even if the site’s visitors can easily navigate from one page to another, it still doesn’t mean that they easily navigate within the pages.
  1. Do You Really Need All Site Pages/ Do You Need More Site Pages?
This effects mostly people working with an existing template. The template has a fixed number of pages on it: “Home”, “About”, “Gallery”, “News”, “Contact”, etc. But wait… do you really need that “News” page? There’s no point of keeping a page unless it updates regularly. Pages that don’t update are harming your website by making it look extinct.
However, just as you can reject a template’s default tabs you can also add new ones: whatever works for you. For instance, you might feel that a “Photography Tips” or a “Special Offers” page is in place. You should decide which tabs to use based on your business’ needs and you might find yourself adding or removing tabs as you go along before you have the perfect fit. This is perfectly natural. Very few people get this right the first time.
How User-Friendly Is Your Photography Website Photo by Nadav Dov Boretzki
  1. Is Your Photo Gallery Fun To Watch?
Now we’re getting to the interesting part – the photos themselves. There are several things you need to ask yourself about your gallery:
  • Did you use too many photos in one gallery? A big gallery looks intimidating and unfriendly. If you have a lot of work to exhibit, consider splitting the photos into a few galleries.
  • Do you have smooth navigation between photos? It doesn’t matter if you use static thumbnails, sliding galleries or backwards/forwards arrows. The main thing is that your visitors can easily browse the gallery and control what they see. Automatic transitions between pics might work for non photography websites but are less recommended when the service / product offered are the photos themselves.

How User-Friendly Is Your Photography Website Photo by Janine Hylton

  • When clicking on a pic to enlarge it, is everything working right? Fortunately, the gallery settings in the Wix editor allow you to zoom into small details. Use the “Expand” function to decide how you’d like your photos to appear.
  • Is you Slider gallery moving too fast? That can really annoy your visitors. Adjust it by clicking “Settings” and controlling the speed.
How User-Friendly Is Your Photography Website Photo by Alice Marc Photography
  1. How Does Your Text Correspond With The Photos?
It is not always necessary to add text to photos. As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Still, if you have exotic locations on your portfolio, if you have a set from a photo shoot of a cool brand or if you have an unusual photo which you feel deserves a caption – use one. (Con)text is king.
Good context: “Freestyle skiing. Vancouver 2010, Winter Olympics”.
Bad context: “The Robinson’s family portrait. Chesterfield, Missouri”.
Worst context: “Just a random thought. An instant of light meeting color”.
The Same goes for gallery titles. Name your galleries generically – Urban, Black&White;, Portraits, etc. Abstract titles such as “Inspirations” or “Life in Motion” work mostly in photography blogs, but are not recommended if your site is a business website.
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