Monday, June 29, 2015

All Done Pimping My Website

Designing the new cover page on Squarespace
My original Squarespace site
For a few weeks now I've been working on unleashing the Gods of Websites on my poor old tired site. They say change is good so I dove in and gave the site a completely new look - new template, new logo, new fonts, new image display, and even new images. The new design was the brainchild of my female offspring unit who I decided to bring into the process to take advantage of her brand new degree from Florida State in Digital Media and Graphics Design.

The more recent site before its renovation
It's was hard for me to let go of my affinity for all thinks tacky and gaudy but slowly, patiently, she persuaded, cajoled, and nudged me to a new design that was much cleaner than anything I had dreamed up by myself in the past. I wrote about the design process recently (here) so I won't go into that aspect of the process again.

After the site was redesigned, I thought the hard work was over since Squarespace converted all of my portfolio galleries into the new format seamlessly. Then I came up with the notion that maybe it was time to put some new images on the site so I could include stuff that came out of my camera bodies over the past year or so, maybe even throwing in a few other images that had special meaning to me but I had never processed.

Little did I know that going through thousands of images and then trying to select, re-process, and limit the number of images would be light years more difficult than redesigning the site. But it's all in the rear view mirror now as it's finito.

New shot in the "Football" gallery
New shot in the "Football" gallery
New shot in "The World" gallery
At first I was just going to add one gallery with a few sports, studio, scenic, travel and people shots. As I poured through my desktop hard drives copying and pasting possibilities into a portable hard drive I paid no attention to quantity. As images popped up on my preview screen, if they caught my attention for one reason or another they were copied and pasted for processing. When I was all done, I opened the hard drive only to find that I had copied and pasted well over 1,000 images. Yikes. Talk about a big gallery. I realized there was no way to reduce that number to a manageable gallery of 30-35 images so I went to Plan B - multiple galleries with images grouped into the same themes in my Portfolios. I created folders on the portable hard drive for each genre - Sports, Studio, Black & White, etc. and funneled the images into the appropriate folder.

One of my new Studio shots
Now, the gallery format on the new site initially displays images in a large grid, but clicking on any image transforms the gallery into a full page view of each image, allowing a viewer to click through them full size. So, I had to make sure each image would not only look good in a grid but also when enlarged to full size. Night after night, hour after hour over the past week I sat at my desktop working on images, organizing them, discarding anything that I didn't think was worthy, and putting them into their respective folders. When I was through I still had way too many images but at least the number had shrunk down to less than half of the original number.

A new shot in "The U.S.A." gallery

New shot in the "Other Sports" gallery
To make a very long story short, I started to create the new galleries by uploading all the images that remained. That opened up a new cans of worms. I had way, way too many sports images. Go figure. I didn't want my sports gallery to be dominated by football, baseball, and basketball because I wanted to include images from other sports but I also didn't want to sacrifice some of the football or baseball images just because of a numbers issue. That caused me to gravitate towards breaking down the sports gallery into several galleries - one for football, one for basketball, one for baseball, etc., giving each major sport its own decent sized gallery with a catch all "Other Sports" gallery. Problem solved? Hah. Adding all those galleries made the navigation list at the top of my web site pages look like a book. On to Plan C - figure out a way to condense that navigation links into something readable and easy to follow.

New navigation menu
Going back into the Squarespace design menu I figured out a way to create a "New Images" page with folders, each folder containing the gallery for each genre of images. Hovering on the navigation link resulted in a drop down menu listing Football, Basketball, etc. for easy peezy selection. Not stopping there, I did the same thing with the Portfolios. Much to my pleasant surprise I killed a flock of birds with one stone - a navigation menu that was even cleaner and simpler than before and easy to follow.

New shot in the "People" gallery
I finished up by renaming the galleries and translating those names to the Portfolio galleries. That meant moving images around in the Portfolio galleries since I got rid of "Black & White" and went with a gallery titled "People". I also got rid of the color and black & white travel image galleries and reshuffled images into a galleries for images from the U.S. and images from abroad. I still have too many images in many of the galleries but I just don't have the fortitude to take them down. Supposedly the rule is to keep the number of images on a photography web site gallery to 20 and certainly no more than 30. Maybe someday I'll bite the bullet but for now it is what it is.

New "Football" gallery
New "Other Sports" gallery
New "The World" gallery
New "People" gallery
New "Studio" gallery
New "The U.S.A." gallery
New "Baseball & Softball" gallery
So, here they are. Each new gallery was limited to no more than 35 images. You gotta try to follow the rules at least to some extent, right? That's 7 new galleries containing well over 200 images that are now on my website. Too many? Maybe. I'll live with it for now. I know that's my gaudy, tacky self rearing its ugly head but it's good to let the beast out every now and then.


Joshua Price said...

Your website looks awesome! I hope it makes it easier for you to acquire viewers and possible clients. Besides the format of your site, your photos really show how creative and skilled you are in this field. Thanks for sharing this with us. More power!

Joshua Price @ Branding First Inc.

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Pete Summers said...

Those are very cool layouts – mind blowing, even. I like how your page previews not just your works well, but also your aesthetic style. It personalizes your page to such a point that it bears your visual signature. That is a good thing, and it goes a long way towards promoting your brand.

Pete Summers @ Elite Market Links

Steven said...

This is one seriously impressive and inspirational website Mike! You can tell you've put the hours in on this. Makes me ashamed of my pretty standard dull old site. Really like the way your stuff is curated into galleries showcasing different themes- makes it easy to get into the right stuff that interest you. Good job!

Steven @ Cambridge Local Marketing