The richness of the web is no longer compromised by misused technologies and limited bandwidth. Photography websites are not oblivious to the overall impact these trends can have. And to successfully navigate this space, photographers can look to the future optimistically by paying close attention to current web design trends.
More HTML5, Less Flash
No Music Please
We’re seeing less audio in photography websites. Why? Because a lot of people are simply annoyed by music blasting through their speakers unexpectedly. After all, they’re visiting a photography site to look at images, not listen to music. Audio files also increase a website’s download time substantially. Ultimately all these factors have a negative impact on the user experience. If for nostalgic purposes music can still be utilized, and if done tastefully it can add ambiance to the presentation. But the Web 2.0 mantra is all about letting the users decide, and not pushing things down people’s throats. A smart way of adding music to a site could be accomplished by removing the auto-play functionality and letting the user choose when to listen. This is the new approach to implementing audio on the web, and we expect to find more photography sites without music.
Photoblogs are In
As the web grows more social and interactive, photographers are looking for different ways to display their work through a richer web format. Photoblogs have become the solution of choice considering the surge in popularity of blogs across the web. Photoblogging platforms like Flickr, Tumblr, and Photoblog have also broken ground in this area and introduced a new format for photographic expression on the web. Now photographers are following suit because photoblogs provide an alternative to static sites that would not be updated in years. Maintaining a photoblog is a great way to increase interaction with users through comments and to share a photographer’s vision with the rest of the world by keeping images fresh.
Search Engines are Important
Many photographers are beginning to understand the power of SEO. Search engines are the nexus between users and a website, or translated, between clients and a business. Implementing a smart SEO strategy is always beneficial. This is achieved by using smart copy and relevant HTML tag structures that will get a site noticed in search engines. And as the web continues to grow in competing information and noise, hyper local search will be the main driver of targeted traffic. This occurs when information about a service on a website is made relevant to a specific local region. An example of this search trend would be creating a SEO strategy for photography services in San Mateo, California, in an effort to rank first on searches for this service in the region. Keyword search will continue to play an important role and should always be part of any web strategy.
Mobile and Tablet Readiness
With the explosion of smartphones, iPhones, and iPads you can expect that an increasing number of visitors to any website will be using some sort of mobile device. To take advantage of the new digital channels a site must be created with these viewing devices in mind, fully conversant in a variety of screen resolutions. By making a photography website mobile and tablet ready viewership will not be affected and will actually increase in the coming years.
The days of generic and boring fonts on the web are over. Font embedding technologies like Typekit and Cufon have allowed for creative uses of typography in web design. The variety and options are almost limitless. Special typography enhances the overall effect and experience of a site, adding to the aesthetic appeal of a site’s photography. Much like the rest of the web design landscape we imagine better and more elegant applications of typography across photography websites.
Search engines are still a long way from processing images and organizing visual information in a relevant manner. Since the backbone of the web is information it’s only logical that this information be communicated through language, and by language we mean textual data. This concept is what many have termed as the Semantic Web. Smart photographers have picked up on this and although photographers communicate in a visual language, there are ways to accommodate for the semantic web through the visual work. This is done by using relevant body copy, tags, and adding captions to all images, in an effort to properly index and highlight relevance in the vast web registry.
As web technologies allow for more space to maneuver, designers are getting creative and breaking away from the traditional box layout. It is not uncommon to see websites with long horizontal scroll or fixed vertical navigation. The fold, that imaginary line at the bottom edge of your screen, is no longer sacred as designers move past it to extend their designs south of the border. Unusual grid layouts are allowing for more creative ways of displaying photography on a webpage, and some clear examples are the multiple column magazine layouts and scrapbook style galleries that started springing up in photography sites. Design and photography, both creative arenas, will continue to complement each other by pushing the limits of web design layouts.
Social Media Integration
It goes without saying that social media has transformed how we communicate as a society. Facebook and Twitter are growing at breakneck pace and websites along all spectrums and industries are factoring this huge social component into their web design and marketing decisions. Facebook integration and apps add social proof and power to any website and they are part of the design strategy for any web project. As photographers learn to appreciate the value of communicating effectively on the web we’ll see this social component pick up in massive numbers.
It’s no mystery why WordPress became the blogging platform of choice for photographers. It offers an open source, low cost, out-of-the-box solution that affords a photoblog functionality to any website. This not only means that a website can be easily updated, but it also means that a site will get organic traffic by applying the many native SEO features and plugins. WordPress also has added benefits in design by offering a vast array of visual themes and templates for styling a photoblog or site. This versatility, in both form and function, has made WordPress a favorite among photoblogs, and just blogs in general. But one thing’s for sure, we’ll see more and more photographers rely on this platform for its diverse benefits and offerings.
The web is evolving and brimming with possibilities. Through more sophisticated technologies and elegant design we achieve a better web experience without sacrificing quality. Through the use of search engines, mobile devices, and social media we become more interconnected. And all of this is happening faster than ever before. Those in the photography industry who are quick to embrace these trends will find the most benefit, and will communicate their work and message to wider audiences. What about you? Will you be likely to apply any of the trends?
Cristian Bosch is an interactive designer who’s passionate about creating stunning websites. He runs MAQUINA, a boutique web design studio, and has an unhealthy obsession with photography.