10 Essential Tips for Designing a Better Photoblog

March 3, 2011 / by admin

photoblog1Blogging has come a long way since it’s humble beginnings as a personal diary of sorts. Now more than ever photographers are turning to the blogging format to display their photography online. In the same way as many businesses use blogs to periodically update their news section, photographers can use photoblogs to regularly upload new images to share with the world. This post will focus entirely on the web design aspect of a blog for photographers and offer some insights that you might find helpful.

1. Clean unobtrusive design

The main purpose of a photoblog is to showcase photography so keep the graphics and distracting imagery to a minimum. Maintain the focus on the pictures. You don’t want to saturate your visitors with too much information. To achieve this use a layout that is maximum 2 columns, typography that’s not too loud, clean and minimal design, low key graphics, neutral colors, and a clean background. Your design should tastefully complement and not overpower your photography.

2. Fast loading times

To improve the quality of the web viewing experience you’ll want to maximize loading times. There’s nothing more frustrating than waiting forever for images to load. And since a photoblog is full of them, you’ll have to make special considerations to compensate. The first thing that you can do to maximize loading is to optimize your images for the web. Don’t upload images at 100% quality or the downloading experience will suffer. Optimize images for web between 60%-80% quality, depending on the dynamic range of the image. The second thing is to keep the site’s HTML code clean and lean. This is done by adhering to web design standards and best practices, meaning unobtrusive javascript and graceful degradation, all concepts that any good web designer worth their salt is familiar with. And lastly pick a quality host with the right bandwidth. Depending on the amount of traffic your blog receives, you’ll have to manage bandwidth. Most hosting services offer differing plans, but you should stick to the ones on the middle spectrum. Going with a cheap host based on price can work to your blog’s detriment and inhibit download capacity.

3. About/Bio page

Blogging is about getting personal. It’s a form of medium where you loose the facade and show your true colors. So creating an about page with your bio will definitely welcome visitors and make them feel at ease. Put a human face behind the name and the work, and people will be attracted to that personable side of you. This will keep them coming for more.

4. Engagement

One of the main elements that distinguishes a blog from a regular website is its commenting capability. Make it easy for visitors to comment on your images. People are more engaged when they can interact with the content they see. So invite and promote interaction. It’s also kind of fun. Make your comment area clearly visible and even ask for comments by creating nicely defined buttons and titles that ask for comments explicitly.

5. Integration to portfolio website

If you have a photography website why not make it a seamless experience to jump from your blog to your professional portfolio and back? I see a lot of professional photographers have two separate sites. This approach can be cumbersome and a costly. Some of the people who stumble upon your blog may want to immediately look at your professional portfolio and maybe even hire your services, so keeping the door open to your main site is always smart. A good way to do this is to have the same look and feel for the blog and the portfolio, and use a content management system like WordPress to power the whole experience.

6. Search Engine Optimization

SEO affects your site in more ways than you can imagine. If your photoblog is well structured for search engines you’ll be blessed by the Internet Gods (meaning Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines). This translates to more traffic, more interaction, more exposure and ultimately more photoblog success. You want your site to be crawled by search engine bots, so make this an important piece of your web design puzzle. What can you do to improve SEO? Well, use correct and relevant title tags, description tags, headline tags in all your pages. Since most of the content is imagery you’ll want to use some sort of caption to inject relevant text in your photos. Internet technology is not yet at a point where search bots can process images. You’ll also want to use tags replete with rich keywords concerning each image. All this will do is create a semantic foundation for your images that web crawlers love and understand.

7. Large imagery

There’s nothing more disappointing than going to a photoblog only to find really small images. The images are the centerpiece so make them large and attractive to the display and layout of your photoblog. I would suggest making them at least 600 pixels wide if it’s a two column layout, and maybe even 800 pixels wide if it’s a full screen width layout.

8. Relevant information design

Information design is the key to building an excellent web experience. Successful information design starts with relevant information so it makes sense to keep your links and buttons relevant on your photoblog pages. Let’s say a visitor is looking at a post in the fashion photography section. If you want to keep them engaged you’ll want to offer them links to related fashion photography posts, information about fashion photography services, and possibly a link to your fashion photography portfolio all in the same page. Make relevance come front and center so the user doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

9. Screen resolution

The basic screen web resolution today is 1024 pixels wide by 768 pixels high. Web users are quickly shifting to greater screen resolutions, but this number is still a reference point for web design in general. There are thousands of websites that don’t adhere to this standard either by making sites too thin or too wide. Some sites have images that are way too small because they don’t maximize the alloted screen space, or the opposite, they have images or navigation cut off because they overextend their reach. Your aim should be to entertain the greatest number of users on your site. By applying a standards based screen resolution to your photoblog you’ll be able to communicate effectively with everyone.

10. Define your style

Part of having a blog is about expressing your own voice. Every photographer has a unique vision and you’ll want to express that uniqueness in your photoblog. If you have a certain style make it evident not only in your photography but in the blog design itself. So as a creative find your own style and stamp it on your site. This comes by defining the right color palette, typography, and even graphic design that’s relevant for you. Doing this will infuse your blog with personality and make you stand out from the pack.

These are all essential steps which can take your photoblog to new found glory. As a photographer you already have beautiful images to start with so why not give them the right home on the web by applying these insights? In the coming weeks I will also write a follow-up post that relates specifically to marketing your photoblog so stay tuned.

Update: If you’re looking forĀ wordpress photoblog themes you might want to check outĀ ProPhotoThemes.com