Every photographer should have a professionally designed website to promote his or her business. Photography is a purely visual art form and a customer’s first impression of the photographer will form within seconds of viewing the website. Great testimonials from previous clients will not count for much if the photographer’s portfolio is short of exceptional.
Photography is a very competitive market. The introduction of cheap, high quality digital SLR cameras and photo editing software means that with a little training and practice anybody can take a good photograph and print it out on their inkjet printer. However, those seeking a really professional product shop around for photographers online, mainly because they can immediately view a portfolio. Gone are the days when a customer would sit in the reception area of a photographic studio and flick through albums of color prints while the photographer promoted his services. Most customers do their research online and make their decision before making the first call.
Ways to give your website impact
A photographer’s website must be a visual masterpiece. The images need to be of a high quality, and the best photos should be displayed first. The website needs to load quickly too, so it is important to find a good balance between image quality and page loading speed.
Image sliders are an excellent choice for photo websites. While the customer is reading about the services they will see a variety of images appear. Around three seconds per image gives enough time to view an image and read a one-word description. A new trend is to use single verbs and adjectives on images to describe the event, such as “fun”, “enchanting” or “classic”. The photos are large and the text is overlaid to maximize the visual impact. Do not expect customers to click tiny thumbnail images to see a full version; everything should be displayed in full on loading, at least for desktop websites.
Using photo galleries with fade effects is a good option. Showing one photo at a time will ensure that page load is quicker and it allows a short description to accompany each photo. Good copy provides a story for each photo, which can make a connection with the customer.
For those on a tight budget it is often better to buy a ready-made photography theme for the website and then have professional copywriters create compelling sales copy. Many designers argue that a unique website is vital, but so long as your site is different to your local competitors, customers are unlikely to know the website template was bought. What ultimately sells a service is a great product description and a call to action that the customer cannot ignore.
Every business should have a unique selling point. To stay ahead of the competition a photographer needs to demonstrate that they are one of the best in their field. Again, a combination of highlighting the best work with some excellent copy will help to send this message to the customer.
Important factors to include on the website
Most customers will visit the home page first, so this needs to clearly show all the services on offer. If you specialize in wedding photography, ensure that the first photos are of weddings.
People are more likely to view websites on their mobile phones and tablets than on a desktop today. It is therefore very important that a website looks great and displays quickly on mobile devices. This does pose a problem for photographers because high quality images are expected.
Make your brand clearly visible. Assume that potential customers will view many photography sites in a short time and then return to the ones they liked the most. While the portfolio is important, you need people to remember the name of the business or photographer. A strong logo is a must.
In addition to the visual aspects of the site a photography website still needs to follow the basic rules of business web design: every page should have a clear contact telephone number, ideally at the top-right of the screen and again in the footer. Never rely on a contact page alone. Telephone numbers should be clickable on mobile devices. Also provide a street address for the photo studio and a comprehensive FAQ page that should answer every conceivable question a new customer would have. Ensure that your personal qualifications and experience are all well documented on the site; consider displaying images of your certificates.
The most important rule for photographers is to keep the site clean and simple and let the photos do as much of the talking as possible.
Contributed by Guest Writer
Photos by Arrow & Wren (a great example of an excellent photography site like the one talked about here!)