April 23, 2012

Photo-sites and photo-blogs: other considerations

This is the third and final post in the series on photo blogs. The first one was on the elements of a photoblog  and the second one on layout and design aspects. In the present post, let’s discuss some other important matters that one must keep in mind.

Individual photos: their shape, size, quality, number

It is a no-brainer that individual photos matter as much as, or more than, the overall design and functionality of a photo blog or a  photo-website. We have discussed matters relating to various aspects of images in a series on the ITB – especially the technical aspects of image quality. Without repeating them, let’s just remind you that too big sized and numerous photos on a website make it slow; low resolution photos gives a poor first impression and makes the site look unprofessional; photos' shapes should either be similar or follow a pleasing pattern; photos should not be too bright or dull and should go well with the theme / template of the blog.

How 'great' is the photo?

A photo’s intrinsic quality as a photograph is as important as its technical quality. This is especially important in photoblogs as we display [and often sell] high quality photos here. So, you must post photos that meet a minimum standard of photographic quality. It would include the subject of the photo and its uniqueness; composition [leading lines, background, depth of field, patterns, symmetry, framing, etc]; lighting and exposure; use of correct camera settings [aperture, speed, focus, movement settings and so on]; point of view / angle; edit-time tweaks.

Simplicity is the best policy

Fig. 1
The logic behind our recommendation in the last post for a simple theme with a big photo, thumbnails and menu-bar [Fig. 1] would be clear if you try to strike a balance between functionality, speed of rendition of the website and professional looks. Please note that in this design, the opening screen itself displays your photographic capabilities [in the big photo], the assets you have in the blog [in thumbnails, which don’t take much space and still look good], and all relevant info relating to the blog [in the menu-bar].  These, and not the awards or what amateur visitors say about you, are the elements that make your website professional.   

Say NO to pop-ups and unnecessary frills. Use pop-ups only to offer something of great value to the visitor or if to announce something earth-shaking. No side pop-ups too, especially along the right margin: they are less intrusive than mid-page pop-ups but come in the way of the scroll bar. Since photoblogs already are heavy in size because of photos, loading them up with fancy but irrelevant stuff slows them down further. Besides, such frills are likely to make the blog / website look unprofessional.

Put your best foot (=photo) forward

We have put a biggish post on the Indian Top Blogs on the importance of the top 10” of a blog. Since a good part of screen in a photoblog should have image elements, you need to be extra conscious about putting the best of your blog on the top part of the page so that it is seen in the opening screen without the need to scroll down or rightward.

The big photo and thumbnails should be chosen in a way that they show the best in the blog. A thumbnail should represent its category so strongly that the visitor recognises the category even without reading the accompanying text.


Categorise but not too much; label images but do not have a label list that runs into pages. If you have very few photos in some categories such as ‘babies’ and ‘pets’, put them all in a ‘miscellaneous’ category. You can see the logic for this in the ITB post on blog categories and labels

It is a good idea  to put non-image links [e.g. ‘about me’, ‘how to buy’, ‘tips’] in the menu-bar. Image categories [e.g. scenery, portraits, buildings, wildlife]  are better placed in a vertical listing with a thumbnail alongside the category name, or in the sidebar.

Fig. 2
Categorisation takes us to another very functional layout especially for photoblogs / photo-websites. You can put a vertical menu-bar on the left of the content column instead of having it horizontally under the title. You can have both if yours is a very resourceful websites with many categories. This vertical menu-bar adds functionality if you add a sub-category menu to it: when a visitor clicks on an entry in the main list, its sub-categories pop up in the narrow column on its right. [Fig. 2]

In this series:
1.Photoblog defined; use of text with photo
2.Designs for photo websites and photoblogs
3.Placement of photos in blogs; blog-layout, categories, etc (this post)