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Starting website - suggestions?

Lizzytish

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Hey guys! Wasn't sure if there was a similar thread to this but I wanted some of your opinions on starting a website for your photography business.

I've been looking at pricing through the different web building sites (WordPress, Wix, etc) and I am not really sure what would be a good option. I would obviously like to have my own domain which I know I can buy through GoDaddy for example or I can just buy the domain through the website builder but I can't really tell if it's better to buy the domain name through a hosting site or the web builder. My boss who is a photographer uses WordPress for her site and blog and then links her ShootProof galleries to her site. My only concern is WordPress seems to be outdated compared to other site builders but the price may be more reasonable. All I am trying to explain is I am trying to justify what will be the best option for the price and I would love your opinions and explanations. Thanks!
 
Wordpress has been around for a while, true, however it's very configurable, and there are a HUGE number of add-ins and plug-ins for it. It is, IMO, the most versatile tool out there for someone who doesn't want to hand-code their own 'site. As for your domain, go where you find the best deal. I use Wordpress and purchase my domain through my hosting service.
 
Wordpress is an open source script that powers a lot of websites out there. ProPhoto is a very popular Wordpress addon for photography websites. It simplifies and extends Wordpress to make it more easy to manage. I don't use it but I know a lot of big name photographers who use it. You can take a look at my site (in my signature) to get an idea of how flexible Wordpress can be with the right combination of add ons. Like everything else, you still need to know how to work with the "tools". Wix is horrible for SEO because it uses variables instead of natural URL's.
 
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Thanks guys! I really appreciate your input! It's exactly what I am looking for as far as everyone's opinions. Everyone else, keep them coming!
 
Another vote for WordPress. I'm using the self-hosting version of WP. Since I know just enough of HTML/CSS to be dangerous so I'm using a free theme and customized it. I'm also using several plugins to do some things that the WordPress core doesn't do.
 
I hate, just HATE web sites where it's obvious that the designer thought "okay, I need to put in all the bells and whistles...I need to do things that 95% of other sites don't do...I need to push the edge of the envelope." What BS.

I'm not sure what the purpose of your website is. But it's probably something like: provide an attractive way to make your portfolio accessible to people 24-7. Or provide a low administrative cost way of working with clients. Or provide a continual marketing presence. But it is NOT...demonstrate that I do programming stuff on my website no-one else does b/c even though I'm a photographer I'm really a frustrated programmer!

Be clear on the purpose of the website. I have yet to run in to a photographer who got business b/c some client said "I was really wowed by the special effects and apps on your site--that convinced me you must be good with a camera." Instead, probably the most common website-related complaints I hear other photographers say they get are things like:
--too hard to navigate
--pictures wouldn't load
--stuff would lock up
--couldn't figure out what it was supposed to do
--the site got in the way of what I wanted to see/find out

Be clear: unless you're niche market is photographer for web designers, feeling that you need to have a website with all of the bells and whistles is dumb. It's like a wedding photographer feeling he/she needs to be the best dressed person at the wedding. Or the food photographer feeling he/she needs to bring a gourmet lunch to the food shoot so everyone will be impressed by their foodie chops. Or the pet photographer who shows up for the portrait shoot bringing their 3 pet dogs and a snake.

I would argue that you want your site to be something that you can set up and then not spend a lot of time maintaining....b/c you want to spend your time on photography (not website stuff). So you want a site that is sturdy and relatively stand-alone. You may want it to be easy to update content (so it's not static and will thus draw people back repeatedly to check in).
 
Zenfolio and Smugmug are options as well. I use Smugmug, but there are slight pros and cons to each. They won't be free, but if you watch their sites they regularly offer discounts. I think Zenfolio has a 35% discount running right now actually.
 
I hate, just HATE web sites where it's obvious that the designer thought "okay, I need to put in all the bells and whistles...I need to do things that 95% of other sites don't do...I need to push the edge of the envelope." What BS.

I'm not sure what the purpose of your website is. But it's probably something like: provide an attractive way to make your portfolio accessible to people 24-7. Or provide a low administrative cost way of working with clients. Or provide a continual marketing presence. But it is NOT...demonstrate that I do programming stuff on my website no-one else does b/c even though I'm a photographer I'm really a frustrated programmer!

Be clear on the purpose of the website. I have yet to run in to a photographer who got business b/c some client said "I was really wowed by the special effects and apps on your site--that convinced me you must be good with a camera." Instead, probably the most common website-related complaints I hear other photographers say they get are things like:
--too hard to navigate
--pictures wouldn't load
--stuff would lock up
--couldn't figure out what it was supposed to do
--the site got in the way of what I wanted to see/find out

Be clear: unless you're niche market is photographer for web designers, feeling that you need to have a website with all of the bells and whistles is dumb. It's like a wedding photographer feeling he/she needs to be the best dressed person at the wedding. Or the food photographer feeling he/she needs to bring a gourmet lunch to the food shoot so everyone will be impressed by their foodie chops. Or the pet photographer who shows up for the portrait shoot bringing their 3 pet dogs and a snake.

I would argue that you want your site to be something that you can set up and then not spend a lot of time maintaining....b/c you want to spend your time on photography (not website stuff). So you want a site that is sturdy and relatively stand-alone. You may want it to be easy to update content (so it's not static and will thus draw people back repeatedly to check in).

I could not agree more on that. A website is supposed to be easy to navigate where the viewer can go from point A to point B with ease. I can't say how many photographer's websites I've been to where it would A) Crash my browser or B) be so slow I have to close it. You want your information to be quick and to the point. If a website is too wordy, people will click the X button on their window. You don't want to fill it up with too many pictures and GIFs. Showcase your best work. And NEVER put music on your website. I don't know about anyone else but it is my biggest pet peeve when it comes to websites. I will actually close a site immediately if I hear music. I don't want to play hide and go seek with the pause button.

To answer OP's question, I use Wix presently while I build my new website from scratch. I've never had a problem with it and if you know diddly about web design, the drag and drop interface makes it less intimidating. My advice would be to buy the domain separate from whatever service you use to host and build your website (buy the domain from a domain registrar like GoDaddy or Host Gator for example). The reason being is if you need to move hosts, it might be easier than having the domain and hosting tied to Wix or another build your own service. All you have to do if you have your domain from a domain registrar point to whatever your hosting service is.
 
My website is just a crafting blog, not a photography site. However, I use GoDaddy for the domain and the hosting. I use wordpress for editing through GoDaddy. Wordpress is pretty easy to use and fairly intuitive. You don't really want to spend a ton of time learning how to do backend stuff.

For me, I like GoDaddy. I've had one 2 hour outage in 5 years. That's it. My site tends to have numerous pics but not as many as a photo site would. But I don't typically have issues with it loading.

A nice thing about bundling your hosting and domain, is that you can have things renew together with one notification. I like GoDaddy for my domain, because I get emails to tell me when to update my info (I hope other domain buying sites do the same but you should check if you use someone else) You have to keep your info updated and your domain renewed to keep someone else from taking it. Look at multiyear renewals for hosting and domain name. It'll save you in the long run usually.
 

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