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 Post subject: Critique My Website!
PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 3:27 am 
I've been wanting to do this for sometime now but I finally feel like I've developed my site enough to the point where I'm ready for feedback. Not all my portfolio galleries have photos in them... I'm planing on adding more as I take em. I'm not asking for feed back on my photo's either just the layout of the website. Thanks for your help and don't hold back... I want to pick it to pieces.

Link:
http://www.thomaslowe.com


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 5:51 am 
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Joined: Fri Aug 01, 2008 8:27 am
Posts: 528
Location: Hanoi, Vietnam
Quote:
I want to pick it to pieces


tbc I don't like your homepage as you linked it there - a better photo of yourself representing your portraiture style might be better. I also read the word 'Thomas' 7 times and it's obviously written by you. Also you talk about clients, but don't reference any (I know you're starting off, but I'd drop the pretense). It reads like those testimonials. "It was fantastic!" T.C., California... "Well worth the money!" S.W., Hong Kong

You should check some formatting of the words above the thumbnails and below the images (back to album/slideshow/play/download/next/previous etc) as it's jumbled up on my Firefox browser and some are duplicated. Maybe you should test your site on numerous browsers?

Also, there were too many clicks to get to see your portfolios. I think you should streamline it at least one click less. It's a little clunky. I think part of the problem is that you aren't specialising in any type of work and so have tried to create a multi-level navigation to your varied portfolios. What type of photographer are you/do you want to be? It's not clear from you website.

Lastly on a good note. Although it takes a long time to get to the portfolios, I really love to not have to wait for the images to load once I click on a thumbnail. I assume they're already cached, or something? An idea miight be to have a clickable larger version?

I also like the simple clean lines of your site, with the emphasis on the images - just a shame about the clunky navigation.

Hope I haven't been too mean![/quote]

_________________
http://www.flickr.com/photos/53061745@N02/

Panasonic G3: 9-18mm, 14mm, 20mm, 45mm


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 7:23 am 
Thank you for the fast reply! I'm currently making a redesigned site based off of the feedback I receive here.

I agree with my homepage. Its the first impression viewers have of a site and I think its important to get it right. I'll have to take some new images sometime. Its harder to write about yourself then I originally thought, I'll have to work on that.

I just looked at the words above the thumbnails in firefox. I see what you mean. I'm using a program called iWeb that comes on all apple computers. Its designed to be really easy to use and therefore lacks many features. You basically arrange things where you want and set up the links and it does all the hard work for you. I'm going to have to figure out a way to fix that.

I want to be a commercial photographer. I think your right, I have just about every type of photography in there and I don't really want to do many of them. Right now it takes 3 clicks to find a specific portfolio. In my next version I think rather than having 13 categories I'll just do the 3 (commercial, event, portrait) and put all the images together to eliminate all that extra clicking and loading of pages.

iWeb really works the wonders behind the fast image loading. If you view it on a different browser the words above the thumbnails are controls for launching a larger gallery viewer.

I'm glad you think its clean and simple. That was what I was aiming for something that focuses on my images.

I really wish I could do some sort of pop down menu system but I don't have that ability in iWeb. I think it would really cut down the clicks needed. I tried to learn a little basic coding but I got totally lost. I really need to commit to it sometime and just figure it out.

No you weren't too mean! Thats just what I needed, thank you so much!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 8:01 am 
Quote:
I want to be a commercial photographer. I think your right, I have just about every type of photography in there and I don't really want to do many of them. Right now it takes 3 clicks to find a specific portfolio. In my next version I think rather than having 13 categories I'll just do the 3 (commercial, event, portrait) and put all the images together to eliminate all that extra clicking and loading of pages.


This was going to be my main point. You really need to be able to get to your work faster. If I was a client I'd have lost interest by the time I'd clicked the 4th link before seeing another photo.

A few things I'd suggest:

1) Have at least one photo on EVERY page. If that means that you have a banner at the top with a specifically chosen photo or random photo from a group, or whether each page has its own specific photo, it doesn't really matter. But you need to be showing off your work all the time.

2) I'd stay away from a white background. This is kind of personal preference, but I much prefer sites (especially portfolio sites) to be a darker color (gray or black). I think the pictures pop more, and they generally feel better designed.

3) Think through your menu bar/system. I think it looks OK when you've just got the one "L" line, but on your portfolio one, where there's two plus "L" lines, it doesn't work for me as well.

4) As a photographer, you are an artist. Your site should represent that. Even commercial photography clients will want to see that you've got an artistic style or vision. Make your site represent that. You may not be a web guru, but there are TONS of sites out there that can help you create a well laid out, well presented, and great looking website.

5) Make sure you test your site on multiple browsers (at least Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari). Even better if you can test it on IE6, 7, and 8, as well as a few older versions of firefox. There used to be a firefox extension called IETabs that let you load a page within firefox as if it were in IE. If you're on a mac and are having a hard time testing in IE, that might be an option.

I think you've got some good foundations here. You don't have too much on the site to distract from what you're doing, you just need to take those fundamentals and craft them into a site that really shows off your potential and your skills.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 4:08 am 
Thanks for your help guys!

Based off of whats been said so far I've totally redesigned the site. Please let me know what you think! Thanks!

www.thomaslowe.com


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 4:46 am 
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Joined: Fri Aug 01, 2008 8:27 am
Posts: 528
Location: Hanoi, Vietnam
I think that's much improved - although your commercial photo on your homepage isn't particularly attractive from a subject perspective - maybe the cheesecake image would be nicer?

One more suggestion is to be able to navigate directly to other galleries when viewing another instead of accessing a different gallery via your homepage each time. I'm a believer in single clicks!

_________________
http://www.flickr.com/photos/53061745@N02/

Panasonic G3: 9-18mm, 14mm, 20mm, 45mm


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:16 pm 
Hmmm... I don't have many other food pictures that I'm super happy with at the moment... I think I'm going to do another shoot with a restaurant here pretty soon so I think I'll wait till then and see if I come out with anything better.

I'm having a hard time thinking of the best way to make clickable links to other gallerys. I have "mini" buttons up now. What do you think of them? do they do the job or do you have any other ideas in mind?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 7:16 am 
I'm still trying to figure out a good way to make links between the galleries.

Right now on my site I have three separate galleries with three different ways.

#1 - This is my favorite one right now. It has large arrows that really make it obvious.
http://www.thomaslowe.com/index/Event_Photos.html
Image

#2 - This one is easy, but I think it may be too large at 1200 (wide)
http://www.thomaslowe.com/index/Commercial_Photos.html
Image

#3 - This one is simple and clean though I'm not sure its as easy to figure out.
http://www.thomaslowe.com/index/Portrait_Photos.html
Image

Which one do you guys like best? Or, have any other ideas?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 5:12 pm 
Tomis,
Trust me I know what you're going through and honestly let me give you a little background on myself. I have been a "professional student" of web design and development for the past 12 years. I have designed several church websites and worked on designing the websites in the past for the High School that I graduated from in my hometown. One of the things that I would definitely try to work on is this. A portfolio is a means for people to see your creativity and desire and passion that is evident in your photography but I'm looking at white text on a plain black background that to me just screams this is someone that isn't very creative at all as a first impression. In my honest opinion I would like to see something that makes your site jump and stand out to me. Just think about it this way if this is what I saw when I went to your site what are potential clients that want to hire you to be their photographer going to think? It really won't impress them at all. I hope that you take what I said as my honest opinion and in no way am I trying to put you or your hard work down or discourage you in any way like that because I'm not I'm just trying offer an opinion thats all. Plus I am not sure if I am breaking the forum rules by saying this but I will even offer my experience with this sort of stuff to help you in your future designs. Just email me or sent me a "pm" on here and I will gladly help you in any way that I can.
Gunner out


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 3:10 am 
There were a couple things that I noticed that I don't like.

1) You have an uneven number of photos in ALL of your galleries. I don't know why but that bothers me. I'm anal about it I guess. Try to make it even numbers in each row and column. You can always add/remove columns to make them fit or just simply add a photo or two.

2) Its a photography website with little tiny images. You might want to make some of the images larger.

3) Theres no way of getting back to your site from your blog without clicking Back on the browser.

EDIT: Additionally, you gave links to two different websites outside of yours. You should try to avoid that. You should only list your clients rather than linking to their website, unless you are under a contract agreement with that client. If you are trying to sell a product, you want your viewers to remain at your site and not be distracted by links to BBQ places. Look at in another perspective, Troy's BBQ doesn't like their customers to your website. A client list without links would suffice.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 3:33 am 
Homepage
Overall, this is nice and clean. The plain black background of the site is quite plain, but that isn't necessarily a problem. The main problem I have is with the inconsistent use of fonts. The default Times/serif font doesn't really feel right when placed next to the logo or the text used on the main portfolio links. I would experiment with some sans-serif fonts.

About Page
'Unlike most photographers in the area...' - You don't say anywhere on the site where you are actually based. Not even on the contact page. Kind of important for a photographer don't you think?
Also, the textual home link is redundant. It is convention now that the main site banner is a link to home, you don't need the text link as well.

Contact Page
Like I said before, not much point in me contacting you from South Australia about a job. Or is there? Hard to tell at the moment because I don't know where you live!

Portfolio Pages
The layout of the portfolio looks weird because of the different size photos. I would either make the thumbnails crops of the photos all the same size, or have some sort of background in the cells so the layout looks more consistent.

General
There is no way to get to your portfolio from Contact, About, or Blog without first going back to the home page.

Make the blog and the main site look the same. Otherwise, get rid of the blog.

The page widths look weird. They should all be consistent. For example, The home page vs. the About page.

Be consistent with your titles. The contact page's header is smaller than the rest, and is center aligned.

In general, I like where this is going. Like others have said the overall design is kindof plain, but that could be made into a positive if you allow your portfolio to really be the key to the website. Most of the things I have listed are small things that are needed to make your website look polished.


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