Building A Photography Website

"How can I create my own photography website like yours?"

I'm asked this question often enough that I decided to devote a separate page to the answer. The first thing I will tell you is that I'm not the best person to answer it. While I've learned a great deal over the course of building my site, in the grand scheme of things I know little. I can tell you that building this site has been little more than a time-consuming frustration from the outset. Get that in your mind right now. Nothing will be easy.

A good nature or commercial photography website has three essential elements that must be executed properly. First, you must know your audience and tailor the site to suit their needs. Second, you must present the information in a pleasing and easy-to-navigate design. Third, you must build the site to be search-engine friendly. Cut corners on either of the three and your site will never reach full potential.

Trouble is, no one person is qualified at all three of these essential components. You are most likely the ONLY person who really knows your intended audience and what they want to see on your site. Good website designers are everywhere, but generally they are not the best at building a good foundation for search engine optimization (SEO in geek jargon). SEO experts generally are not the best at creating a pleasing design that works well with photography sites.

So, what's the answer? I recommend utilizing the services of several people. First, talk with friends who have the same photographic interest as you and make an outline of the content you want on the site. Then hire a designer to create the visual plan. Finally, give everything to an SEO expert and let them put it all together. You might get lucky, as I did, and find someone competent with both design and SEO, but I wouldn't count on it. They'll tell you that, but take it with a grain of salt. Consider this: Design and SEO are on different ends of spectrum. You wouldn't expect someone who designs body styles for a Mercedes Benz to be an expert on the hydraulic system for the power steering.

Regardless of who or what you enlist in building your site, I strongly recommend that you act as an integral part of the site's development. Don't farm everything out without having a clue about how it is done. Do that and you'll spend a boatload of money every time you want to change a word or add a photo. You should know how to add and edit content yourself, and you should learn enough about SEO to make sure the new content is in sync with the rest of the site.

So what did I do to create this site? I did most of the overall work myself, including the design. But the smartest thing I did was hire a professional site builder and SEO expert to optimize the content, design, and navigation. I can tell you without hesitation that this website would not exist as it is today without his guidance. His name is Patrick Smith www.codeitdesign.com.

Remember, it is critically important that you enlist the help of professionals from the outset, even if you plan to write all the content yourself. If you don't, you'll spend a great deal of time reworking everything to fit the design and SEO parameters. And if you ignore the basics of design and SEO, your website will never compete well with other photography sites.

Notice that I haven't said anything about what software I used or any details about setting up the content. As I said, I'm not qualified to talk about this. What I used and how I set it up works okay for me, but it might not for you. Talk to some people and spend some quality time Googling. Just remember that the mechanics of how you actually get your site going are secondary to the three elements discussed above, which merit repeating:

  • Know your audience and give them the content they're looking for.
  • Assemble the content in a pleasing and easy-to-navigate design.
  • Make Google your friend.