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  1. #1
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    EDIT: Time has passed, and I've bumped the thread up because we now have a whole new site live at http://www.jessicaverma.com/ that incorporates many of the things we discussed. It's very different than either of the old sites, and I would appreciate some new input. More details are mentioned in my bump-post down below.


    Hi,

    If anybody's got the time, please take a look at this draft of an update my fiancee and I are working on for her wedding/portrait photography website.

    The draft update is up at:
    http://febupdate.jessicaverma.com

    The original site, for comparison, is at:
    http://www.jessicaverma.com

    We're looking for a site that presents her work and carries the tone of her friendly business and work ethic. Also, We've purposefully chosen not to use the un-navigable flash that most competing photographers use because nobody but other photographers seem to like that on a business website. Instead, we're trying to keep a simple, functional, and navigable layout using recognizable usage patterns.

    Suggestions of any order--small or large--are welcome. The logo is also new, so we also welcome comments on it.

    Thanks!

    Andrew (and Jessica)

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Eddy Bones's Avatar
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    I like the new one. The only aesthetic change I would make would be to put some padding within the pink text boxes on the faq page so the text isn't right up against the edges. Other than that I just think it's a good site. It's usable and simple. Nice work. Yes, much better than the original in terms of coding and design.

  4. #3
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    Thanks!

    Yeah. The coding is definately different in the new one. The original was generated by Quark Xpress (Jessica comes from a print design background) which puked out really crappy HTML and couldn't even use GIFs. The new one was a quick (though 400+ asset) dreamweaver mx project that was modelled off a Quark layout. Quark has a more flexible and natural layout interface, but falls apart when it comes to HTML generation, site management, and using templates.

  5. #4
    Senior Member Trico's Avatar
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    Just because something is new, doesn’t mean it’s always going to be better.

    The photos themselves seem to portray the whole friendly atmosphere very well, but I found the dominating colour of the new design rather antagonising and distracting from the over all point. I found myself not being able to look over the site for very long as it’s a bit of an eye sore.

    It might be an idea to say where you actually work, (what country, what county etc) somewhere within the site before having to make people trawl through tedious faq pages.

    I don’t quite understand your reasons for being so quick to shun Flash, (maybe here you could reference your competitors as an example) from my experience it comes down to how it’s used… blame the designer not the tool. In terms of being navigable, there is nothing wrong with using a Flash based navigation. If the site in question were to be 100% flash you would lose the ability to use a browsers back/forward buttons, but in this case it isn’t.

    As far as ‘recognizable usage patterns’ go, the top or left edges of a web page make a more intuitive and suitable location for housing your main navigation based on the fact that nearly every other site out there uses this principle. Web users will have this idea drummed into their head by now and expect it to be in a similar location.

    In terms of getting across the easy going aspect of the business a different sort of font maybe more appropriate for the navigation links. The current one resembles the style you might use to quickly scribble down a shopping list as opposed to the style of a professional photographer. I would continue to experiment with other script or serif based fonts.

    The logo is a nice addition; however it looks a little crude. Maybe you could work on making it look more elegant, slightly curvier?

    My recommendation at this point would be to stick with the first design in terms of appearance but rework the coding along with a few other minor amendments… centre it, change the body font and tint the background etc.

    Sorry but my feelings on the new one are very mixed. :ermm:

    Having just finished writing this you can place less emphasis on the colour thing as mentioned above. I realise my resolution leaves a lot more empty space around the design than your target audience will probably have; but hence the whole overpowering feeling.

  6. #5
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    Thanks, Trico.

    I appreciate the detailed comments. Whether we follow up on all of them or not, they definately give a different vantage of the site than what we've been hearing elsewhere. That's what I came here for.

    And I didn't mean to say that flash was useless. That would be absurd. But most photographers use flash sites that overshadow the presentation they're trying to make. They look more like a portfolio entry for their designer than a site the presents their work and style. Plus, their navigation schemes are notoriosly maddening (according to most brides anyway), no matter how pretty they look (try dougboutwell.com). So that's the kind of flash we're avoiding. Some level of interactivity and graphic manipulation could be fine--we're just being careful not to go overboard.

  7. #6
    Senior Member echoSwe's Avatar
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    The dougboutwell.com was a really good site. I didn't mind the navigation and I liked the gallery navigation, although a next button would work as well. So don't try to avoid that type of flash (ok, avoid the menu, but not the rest) since it's good.

    About the draft you sent the link to I think it smells too much photoshop. It might be all the drop shadows. It could also be that you really haven't been able to capture the monochromatic colours the way they should. If you don't really manage to go with only monochromatic colors as many try to, then I think it's better to go with a more complementary color sheme.

    After looking at the dougboutwell.com again I find that they also have a monochromatic sheme... The difference between the two sites is that theirs have the accent color on stuff that _matters_ while you have it in the background. They have it on the navigation and on the logo - you have it all over. I guess it's another way of saying what trico said with the background really

    FAQ typeface is times new roman AND verdana together. Not good looking.

    I think it could be nice to experiment with the galleries. Instead of having a thumb of an image with a 2px drop shadow with #ccc or something you could try to do some nice roll-over effect. Try changing the background as a box..... hard to write how, but... or you could do something with the text as the mouse goes over the image - add "-" to both sides of the names.

    On the code side of things I wouldn't opt for tables if you're making a redesign.

    What I really liked with the flash layout was the moving interface ... Felt like something new.

    Hope it helped...

  8. #7
    Junior Member Phate's Avatar
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    Adpalumbo,

    Beginning with the good news, your new website is, in fact, better than the first. I believe that background color to be warming and inviting; however, as EchoSwe noted above, it would be nice to see that color used more prominently on the menu and the like rather than the background. (The background should be a duller color, maybe?)

    And now on to the critique...

    First, think about centering the interactive area. This will both provide for a cleaner cut, more professional, look and help to keep the reader focused on the information rather than the distracting background.

    Second, the logo is nice as it is, and will probably work for you; however, as Trico stated above, it could do to see some more curves. The curves would definitely serve to provide a more professional look.

    Third, as Eddy Bones stated, the FAQ could use some padding around the pink area. (Enough Said)

    However, I do disagree with some of the comments made by the other posters...

    The navigation font is appealing. It provides a scrapbook sort of look. Not to shabby, yet not too elegant. (A sort of sentamentality is created)

    And I believe the font used within the FAQ also goes together decently. It could do to be considered, if time allows, but it isn't something that screams "EWW!"

    Also, I don't understand what you have against Flash websites. The "dougboutwell" website was amazing. Flash is catchy. True, it doesn't provide the same cozy feeling as traditional HTML, but it's still beautiful. So don't rule it out just yet.

    Hope this helps!

  9. #8
    Senior Member Shani's Avatar
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    Okay, I'll keep this short, at least by comparison, and not go over the same stuff. But first... The newer version is better than the older one.

    The flash site, boutwell, or whatever it was, has the same problem other flash sites have... it takes too long to load. You can capture all the elegance by other means.

    Now one thing I would like to see is a group of thumbnails where I can click on any image, and not necessarily go in order. But, by doing this, you will have to allow for more vertical scroll. That's just a more practical way of doing an online photo album.

    And... do you realize how easy it would be for people to take your images?!?!? Flash embeds the images so you can't just copy it to a disk, you actually have to purchase it from the photographer. Still avoiding Flash, that's fine, use javascript pop-ups for your larger images, or add a water mark.

    I dug deep into my email to find the site of the photographer from my friend's wedding last summer. Note the web design of the site is not high by my standards, but I like the site map. This will give you an idea of what I mean as far as the organization of thumbnails and galleries.Whysall Photography
    Shani

    I have an eye for detail like you'd never believe.

  10. #9
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    Thanks all.

    As I mentioned in the beginning, many photographer's have web sites that reflect the tastes of graphic designers and not that of potenential clients. It must just have something to do with working in the art industry... The site I referred to is one such site. It's *very* pretty, and I'm not surprised that you all are comfortable with the navigation. But our research has led us to the conclusion that brides are *not* looking for that. At least not the brides in Jessica's market. There's sound business, and pretty design, and we're looking for
    more of the latter.

    As for thumbnail indexes: those are available when we're doing online and print proofing. The pictures on the main site are portfolios. The next-previous is a simpler and more structured interface than a thumbnail index, and allows some control over the "storytelling" element of the presentation.

    "And... do you realize how easy it would be for people to take your images?!?!?!"

    Absolutely. And we don't care. We both believe that it's silly to worry about it. Watermarks are disruptive, java-script popups don't combat the IE save/print floaters *and* they're disruptive, flash is too heavyweight. But honestly--we don't care if somebody downloads the pictures. The rare occasion when somebody might download them, pass them off as their own, try to print them, or do whatever they want with them--none of that matters as much as not seeming like you have a stick up your *** about things. Jessica's present and desired clientele appreciate that.

    (On the subject, I've seen one prominent photographer's gallery that's really terrible with this. When you mouse over his images, javascript replaces the image with a blank image. Clever? Maybe to a designer. Not to the mother-of-the-bride who just wanted to point at the thing in the picture. To her, it's confusing as hell.)

  11. #10
    Senior Member megablaz0r's Avatar
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    The new site does look better than the old one.

    Anytime you put something on the web, you risk plaguerism - 3 years ago I ran a site that designed high end wallpapers (had a couple contributions from precurser from EE, if anyone remembers him) and we had to shut down due to the amount of people ripping us off.

    My girl has an online journal and is constantly being copied by this annoying girl we know - she thinks she is the most creative, original person out there. When my girl says she bought something cool, this other person always asks from where and then ends up buying the same thing. The sick part is she has two journals, one of which is supposed to be private (ie my girl isn't supposed to know about it but does). She always updates the private one with the "original" stuff she bought or did and never updates the public journal with that same info.

    Just goes to show you how bad some people can be.


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