Why Your Website Is a Dinosaur

Little kids love dinosaurs.

Dinosaurs are huge, mean, and featured in lots of movies. But you might have noticed that dinosaurs are also extinct, and adults don’t like them nearly as much as kids. People talk about dinosaurs with nostalgia, like “remember when dinosaurs ruled the world? *lol*”

Even if you don’t know much about the K-T boundary and giant meteors slamming into the Mexican Peninsula, there’s one thing that scientists agree on: dinosaurs went extinct because they couldn’t adapt to the changed environment, which leads me to my next point.

Things are changing in photography, but it’s likely that you still have that same old website you had around the turn of the century. You know, the one that just shows pretty pictures that you haven’t updated in 3 years. Your website is a dinosaur, but you are a mammal, and mammals can adapt (see mom, that liberal arts education is paying off).

Everyone who sells websites to photographers makes one big claim: your website will help you get more work/clients/new business. In most cases, that’s generally false. 

Next time you hear that, I’ve got 1 simple question you should ask: “How?” And if you don’t get a straight answer, and you still feel like poking, here are 3 follow up questions. All get to the heart of the matter: how does a website get you more business?

Is the website designed to attract search engine traffic? And just saying “We’re SEO friendly” doesn’t cut it. Show me how. What tools do you give me to impact my own website’s search engine optimization? Can I infuse my website with text that’s rich in keywords that my potential customers are searching for? Can I update my content frequently to provide the freshness that search engines love? If you help me attract new users who don’t already know me (via search engines), you’re helping me get new work. 

Does the website motivate or drive visitors to some type of action? This could be purchasing something – a print, stock photo, mousepad. This could be signing up for a newsletter.  Follow me on twitter. Request a copy of my photobook. Attend a gallery opening. Register for RSS feeds of site updates. Etc, etc. etc. If there is no way to connect, capture contact info, or complete a goal, your website visitors are simply window shopping. Enable me to convert visitors to contacts/clients in some way and you’re helping me get new work. 

Can I measure traffic patterns and user behavior? Can I easily optimize based on what I learn? Does the vendor offer an analytics package or can you easily add Google Analytics?  If so, once you get all those handy insights – how simple is it to update your site? Let’s say you learn that the images you’re featuring on your main page are not as compelling as the new work you produced last week. Do you need to find a really talented designer with snappy flash skills, pay them a few hundred dollars for their time? If so, that’s a real shame. A website that gives you the ability to constantly measure, learn and constantly optimize…that helps you get more work.      

If someone tells you, “we make your photos look good online” – sure, that’s a big help. Thanks very much. But that’s not helping you with smart new ways to market yourself, display your photos, attract more visitors, and generate new business. And if you’re still using the website you built with Adobe Page Mill in 199, you’re basically doing the equivalent of photographing with a camera you built yourself.

We’ve been hard at work on several new features that address this important need – and we’re releasing a few of these today. (Hint: there’s even more to come.) Let’s discuss:

Graph Paper Press (GPP) makes some gorgeous themes for WordPress blogs. We’re partnering with GPP to bring you a fully integrated blog/website/archive experience for your users. When you put these two powerful tools together, you get a really elegant way to display your photos, an SEO machine, and a completely seamless user experience that unites your blog, portfolio, and searchable, e-commerce friendly archive. Pretty powerful stuff, right? Here’s what we’re doing specifically – you can now:

  • Easily customize PhotoShelter to tie in with GPP’s popular Modularity theme, with more themes to come!
  • Post your PhotoShelter images directly to your Graph Paper Press site – no more double uploads to WordPress!
  • Blow out your SEO with frequently-updated, text-rich content that search engines love – across your Graph Paper Press front-end and PhotoShelter.
  • Get crafty with a bunch of cool plugins and widgets by Graph Paper Press for an even deeper PhotoShelter integration – like a PhotoShelter search widget and recently updated  gallery display.

Here’s a quick example – Jack Gruber’s Graph Paper Press theme and his PhotoShelter account are integrated, so visitors to jackgruber.com can navigate across both destinations seamlessly.

Jack Gruber Website

Read more on combining Graph Paper Press and PhotoShelter, plus a 30% discount offer for PhotoShelter members. If you don’t have a WordPress.org blog yet and want to get started, check out http//visualsociety.com – a hosted WordPress service with all their GPP themes and plug-ins built in, brought to you by the gang at Graph Paper Press.

We’re looking for more examples to feature – so if you’re an early adopter, please share your site!

Our embeddable gallery slideshow just got much better. You now have much more control to customize the slideshow – including color, sizing, scrolling thumbnail display, image transitions, removing the borders and captions and more. This gives you a much more elegant way to display slideshows, and you can play with it until you’re perfectly content.  Want to get rid of the borders completely, blow it up huge, and run a band of thumbnails across the bottom.  Do it!  Care for a transparent background so your vertical images don’t look weird?  Done.  Want to shrink it down, color the border purple, have bouncing image transitions, and display captions for every image? Er, go for it.    

Let me show you what I mean. Here’s the original, default slideshow from our buddy Kike Calvo in Panama.

Silver Banks: Dancing with whales – Images by KIKE CALVO

Now, let’s use the “crop to fit” function to get rid of the gray borders, and remove the top toolbar:

Silver Banks: Dancing with whales – Images by KIKE CALVO

Here’s no toolbars, and a little bigger.

Silver Banks: Dancing with whales – Images by KIKE CALVO

And how’s about a little bigger, with no toolbars, but with the “filmstrip” on:

Silver Banks: Dancing with whales – Images by KIKE CALVO

For those just joining us, another fun part of our embeddable slideshow is that you can grab the embed code and pass it around online like a YouTube video. No matter where the slideshow ends up, all clicks go back to your website. It’s another way to extend your marketing reach online.

Today you can embed the slideshow in blogs and any HTML site (including your PhotoShelter manual customization) – and we’re building it into each of our themes now, so check back soon for more fun!

So, back to helping you get more work. Our goal here is to constantly produce new tools that really do give you the power to market yourself and generate more business through your photography website – whether you’re shooting weddings, nature and travel stock, concerts, football, global conflict, or little league.  Yeah, we also like to give you fantastic looking ways to display photos too.  But if you want to succeed in a changing industry, you need to realize that marketing your photography business online is about so much more than simply showing pretty pictures.        

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This article was written by

Allen Murabayashi is the co-founder of PhotoShelter.

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