Photographers : Our Sites Suck

As a disclaimer to front this post with, this is a bit of our personal opinion. There isn’t a right or wrong way to do things necessarily. As I’ll explain though, there are ways to do things that will benefit your customers/clients and as a plus make you look good!

Let me then start with this. Photographers and videographers, our sites SUCK!

Be honest with yourself, you may (or may not) be a master with your camera and your images. That’s a rant reserved for another post. What happens though, when you go to post your work online? What are you using to cobble together a site? Do you know what’s happening to your business on the digital front?

I know it’s scary to think about, but I think it’s only scary because most of us know nothing of the web. That’s no reason to remain blissfully ignorant to it though!

Let’s start by being laying out what sucks about our photography sites first, get the embarrassing issues out of the way at the top. Here, in no order, are my pet peeves of photographers websites. A lot of this actually applies to any general website.

  • Landing or portal pages
  • Flash
  • Hard to use
  • Slow
  • Small images/videos
  • Not mobile friendly
  • Difficult to navigate
  • Inconsistent
  • Info hard to find
  • Generic layouts

Here’s a common scenario.

It may only be me, but when I visit a photographer or videographers site I expect it to be a representation of them, their work, and their business. So you can imagine my disappointment when I see such fantastic work being dragged down by a horrible site. Leading the charge with this is landing/portal pages. These seem to be what happens when photographers and videographers don’t know how to keep their site under one domain. I often see this portal page on their main domain. It then has 3 images lined up horizontally and says something like blog, website, facebook. Or perhaps the site is split into two sub sites like seniors, weddings. I call them portal pages because each option takes you to a different site, each link is like a portal to a new experience.

I’m looking for a seamless experience here. Perhaps I’m missing out on some proven technique, but WHY split up your work into separare sites? There are much better ways to handle your type of sessions than separate sites!

This brings us to the next problem, Flash, ugh. I can get to your portal page just fine, if it’s some simple HTML. When I try to go to your actual site, which is hidden behind your portal page, I have to wait for it to load. You also better pray I’m not on a mobile device. You know, Flash doesn’t work on any iOS device nor on most mobile devices. Pretend I’m not on my iPhone and the Flash site works in my browser. It’s now taken me away into a whole new experience for your brand. The colors may be the same, and it may look familiar, but how do I get back to the portal page. Or better yet, how do I see your work? How do I see your rates? How do I contact you? Do you blog? WHY IS YOUR SITE PLAYING MUSIC!? I was already listening to music.

You are really making it a pain for me to see how good you are at taking pictures, and you’re unfortunately making it hard for me to use your site. Plus your massive Flash site is hosted on shared hosting and not cached, it loads super slow if it all.

Let’s say you aren’t using Flash on your main site, I still see a lot of problems crop up. Going back to our first problem, you’re using a portal page. Before I can get to your portfolio I have to choose which door to walk through. Do I want to see baby pictures first, or do I want to see seniors? Nonetheless, I finally make it to your blog or portfolio but your images you’ve posted are super tiny! There also isn’t a way to view them larger in a lightbox or anything. Imagine I was trying to view these on a mobile device, they appear even smaller!

Of course that issue of a slow site pops up again, you’re on shared hosting and you don’t cache your site.

Now I’m on your blog, which has a completely different look than your portal page and your Flash site. What brand is this? Luckily I’ve stuck through your site thus far because I like your pictures a lot. Say that I wanted to now contact you, how do I do this? Is the information easily found, in a page clearly labeled contact? Do I need to go back to the portal page to then go to your Flash site, then find a contact link there? Your navigation is in different spots on every site, hopefully I make it.

This is a scenario often played out when I’m viewing a fellow photographers or videographers site. It drives me insane! Do you guys use your own site, and do you love it or hate it? I apologize if this is a mean post to you, I meant it to be this way though. When you own a business, no matter the industry, you can no longer ignore your online presence. I’m not talking about merely having a Facebook and Twitter account either. Your website is important. Let me repeat, your website is important!

For me, a potential client or fan of your work, I want a centralized place on the interwebs where I can find your business. I want to be able to use your site from my 27″ screen, then expect the same experience from my phone. Let me get a feel for your business and brand. I want to see your work, convince me of your value, let me read more about you, keep me updated via your blog, and finally let me contact you.

Make it as easy as possible for me to fall in love with your business. I have a hard time doing so if I’m annoyed via your website.

/Rant over. I don’t want to leave you with just a rant though. I’ve already started working on another post where I layout my best advice for your site. So let me know what you think of this. Am I too mean, am I missing anything? Let me know what you think of photographers/videographers sites, what ticks you off about them? Thanks for reading!

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