At the end of last year, I launched a revised photography website. I had worked on it on and off, for several months. I began updating the back end and then, finally ended with the redesign.
I have run my photography website on the WordPress platform for many years. There were a couple of years within the last 10 years where I just used WordPress for a blog site as well as using other photo website services for displaying my galleries. All of them offered shopping carts that connected to labs. I first started with PhotoShelter, then moved to Zenfolio and finally, SmugMug. This was over a period of about 10 years. I think all of these photography website platforms are good, but sometimes they didn’t give me the flexibility I wanted and were an additional cost to my web hosting fees. My goal last year was to move away from using one of these services so that I wouldn’t have to pay the extra cost. I want everything within my WordPress website. I like working directly with my customers and having a larger choice of print labs to choose from. Most customers would email me anyway with questions about large custom print sizes.
With WordPress there are many plugins available for free or for a minimal fee. This has given me many options for incorporating anything I want within my website. I was a web designer and developer for years so I like having more functionality and control. I enjoy tweaking my own website.
Below is a list of things I added to the new website:
WooCommerce – WooCommerce is a free plugin for managing & selling my physical products of prints, calendars and books. It’s connected to PayPal for accepting payments. I did pay a one time fee for a couple of plugins that work with WooCommerce giving it more functionality. With WooCommerce enabled, I added my new print book, Colors of Bandon and calendars for sale. It worked great for my holiday sales.
New WordPress Theme – With the WordPress platform you use themes for your website design. There are many good places to pick up a very nice theme for under $100. Back in the day, (since the late 90s) I built websites from scratch! I did that for many years. This day and age, anyone can use page builders, built right in most themes, for creating and customizing a website with anything you want. It saves a ton of time. So I just picked up a new theme and added features I wanted to include. My older theme was outdated and was causing some problems. I had asked the theme developer twice about updating it but they never did. So I switched to a popular theme called Avada, when it was on sale for only $39.
Blog – I went through all my blogs from the beginning and got rid of a lot of outdated content. For years I kept some of them active because I wanted it as a historical record as I grew as a photographer. The problem is that many website links, etc. would no longer work. When I used a free online broken link checker it was a nightmare to clean up all the broken links. It was much easier to get rid of the content.
Envira Gallery – I added Envira Gallery for managing my photo galleries. It was a one time fee. Even though it works with WooCommerce, there is a separate shopping cart for selling prints. So in other words, if someone chooses a print and a calendar, they are put in two separate carts. One by Envira and the other through WooCommerce. I didn’t realize that when I purchased it so I currently have the purchase ability on that gallery turned off. What I did was create a print product through WooCommerce where a customer can let me know which image they want through a text field and choose the size. It’s not really ideal, but until I figure out a better method, this is working. Of course this entire method assumes the customer will read my Print Information page. So this is still a work in progress at the moment to make it as easy as possible for my customers.
Boutique Gallery – For smaller prints I added an embedded code from my Fine Art America (FAA) account and created a Boutique Gallery page. I only sell the smaller prints through them. Adding this embedded page is an experiment, I’ll see how it goes. Since I get random orders all the time through FAA, I wanted to see if people that only order smaller prints that visit my website might purchase this way. I have my FAA site set up to only sell small prints. For large prints as mentioned, I want to work directly with people.
About – I updated my about page with my 2017 interviews and publications information. This page has served me well over the years to keep it updated and current.
Clean Up – It’s always good to clean up outdated files and plugins when doing a redesign. That is part of regular maintenance for me, but it was good to go through all my files and plugins to do some purging.
There are several other smaller things I’m working on to improve my website, so as always, that too is a work in progress. I feel pretty good about the changes I made and am glad I took the time to do it prior to my Christmas holiday sales.