Back in the saddle again, need critique on website

Discussion in 'Website Creation' started by suzanne carey, Jan 27, 2010.

  1. Hi there!
    My husband was recently laid off from his job and has decided to go back to school so I feel I need to "get out there" again to drum up some business. The year I got pregnant with my 3rd child (2008) I all but ceased doing photography as it was a really crazy time. Due to our current financial woes, I could use any extra coming in. It has been a while since I took pictures on a regular basis and I feel like I am starting over to build up my clients again. All of my previous work was mainly word of mouth. Anyway, enough of my sob story, I really want to get my new website out there but would like those with experience to give me some feedback. Points I am interested in:
    • Is the music annoying?
    • How is the choice of pictures I chose to include on website?
    • Services section, too wordy?
    • About section, too much? Too "silly?"
    • Pricing. This is the first time I am using packages, what is your opinion on packages? Am I off the mark on my pricing? (I changed it just a bit from my previous pricing)
    Thanks in advance for your time!
  2. Hey Suzanne,
    Congrats on getting back into that saddle. It's always a fun start. I'll try and be critical, so I apologize if I come off favoured one way or the other, I haven't even clicked it open yet so that's totally just a pre-apology, here we go!
    Ok, I found the music annoying, I also don't feel it goes with the initial vibe I get from the site. You've got a great cheery looking layout and colour scheme but then this sort of sad tune going on, I had to turn it off.
    Overall the choice of photographs is great. I would suggest that you add in a few more landscapes layouts over portraits though, you seem to have a lot of portrait layouts and you're losing some of that nice large gallery. Another option would be to splice to portraits of similar, or the same people side by side and make use of that full gallery. It will also make some faces a little less repetitive although I don't think you've got too many of the same people.
    The services is a bit too wordy, I would try to break it up into seperate pages or attempt to shorten up a bit. If I wanted to find out what you did for birth announcements it would take a little while and I might not even realize where to look. Good services though! :)
    Prices are a bit on the lower side, but it also depends on the area a bit as well. Nothing wrong with that depending on what you're looking for out of your prices. The only concern I have about this is that it takes time again to scroll down to the wedding package.
    All in all it's a great start, and you're not all far off the ball so good work and keep it up!.
    What I DO like about the site is the simple aspect of it. Clean and simple is always the way to go.
    The gallery seems perfect for the site - sometimes you see really out of place ones, yuck!
    And the pics are great. Ultimately that's what's most important.
    Hope that helps!
  3. stp


    I do landscapes, so you can take this with a grain of salt if you wish.
    • Is the music annoying? For me, music is always annoying. For those who feel like me, it would be better to have the "off" switch easier to find (maybe just a different color -- it blends in too well). I've always wondered how the general public feels about this.
    • How is the choice of pictures I chose to include on website? I thought your pictures were great (one that should be in portrait mode is shown on its side in landscape mode -- can't remember which gallery). I liked the kids photos in particular. If I were hiring a photographer for these occasions, your pictures would convince me that you were up to the job.
    • Services section, too wordy? I didn't think so. This is where a potential client will want detail.
    • About section, too much? Too "silly?" It needs to fit on a single page; shorten it just a bit.
    • Pricing. This is the first time I am using packages, what is your opinion on packages? Am I off the mark on my pricing? (I changed it just a bit from my previous pricing) I'm really out of my league here, but I thought your pricing was pretty low. Your prices for individual prints were particularly low. IMO, of course.
    You have two categories out of order on the bottom row. If I can remember correctly, "Contact" should come last; you had one of your photo categories appearing after "Contact."
    Best of luck to you.
  4. Suzanne:

    Music is almost always irritating on a web site. Also, make sure you have the rights to use the tune (unless it is royalty-free) if you decide to keep using it.

    Photos are good. I don't like the shade of green you're using but that's just me. I found most sections too wordy. Brevity=clarity. I'm not a big fan of "about sections" and think they should always be as short as possible unless there's something really unique and very interesting there.

    Pricing seems way too low to me. Are you really making money at these fees? When you count camera and office equipment depreciation? Insurance costs? Wages for yourself? Marketing costs? Printing and distribution? I suggest you take half a day and sit down and make a list of all your expenses. Then break it all down on an average per day cost and you'll know how much you'd have to make per hour to stay in business. Don't feel bad because most people are way off on the pricing, especially in the beginning. Let's run a quick example:
    Just a quick run of potential expenses -
    1. You need to buy $3k worth of camera, lenses, CF cards etc every three years to keep everything in good working condition. That breaks down to $1k/year. $84 (roughly) per month. $2.80 per day.
    2. Liability and equipment insurance runs on average $275/month (for me). That is $9.16/day.
    3. Minimum salary I pay myself, $20/hour. Add another $20 to cover various fees, taxes etc. At 8 hours a day, this is $320/day.
    4. Spend the same $3k/year as for camera gear for office equipment, paper, pens, printer ink (text) etc. Breaks down to $2.80/day.
    5. Average cost for individual health insurance was $8k/person/year in 2007. Let's usage that figure, and it breaks down to roughly $23/day.

    So far, we have a total cost of doing and staying in business of $357.76 per day. That breaks down to $35.78 per hour if we figure a 10 hour day. Every day. The actual cost per hour would go up to add things like vacation, holidays etc in. Also we haven't started to look at costs for having prints made and sent out for clients, as well as other things that will drive the money needed per hour up.

    Hope that helps.
  5. Hey, looks like most people have added good comments here. music tends to add a nice feeling, but i would probably change the specific song you have. layout of the website is nice. Lots of pictures and a very simple setup. Photographers dont need lots of links, information, etc. so you did well there. I would even agree with the others and say cut down on the info in some of the sections. Short and simple is always good--it makes people feel less like their reading a book and more like they're enjoying looking at beautiful pictures while also getting all the info they need with a single paragraph or two.
    Pricing is interesting. You might feel like you would get more clients and more money by not charging much, but i feel the oppisite might be true. I've heard from friends that when you charge a lot you come across as being very professional and worth a lot. People have the idea that you get what you pay for, and photography is no exception. Its an art, art takes talent, and with talent should come money. Look at yourself as a professional and you will come across as such
  6. THANK YOU for all of your wonderful feedback. I truly appreciate your suggestions. I am going to make several changes based on the feedback I have gotten here.
    About my pricing....this has been a sore spot with me for some time. I do not argue at all with everything you have said. Especially Glenn, that one really hit home. I guess I have always tried to be "fair" in my pricing, but at times this HAS cost me personally. It is a scary step to put myself in another bracket.
    I have some soul searching to do and the courage to step myself up. :)
  7. haha dont be scared. When i went to your website and saw the opening pictures my first thought was "wow, those look really good." Then i saw one i really liked--i think it was the girl against the bricks and thought "geez, that's an awesome picture--I bet Suzanne charges a lot for these" haha no joke. then i saw the prices and thought "oh, hmm... I guess she is a low key photographer just trying to make supplementary income." That was a ballpark thought process from my end. not sure how others feel, but I dont think you should feel ashamed to charge more.
  8. I have just clicked through the baby and children photos - they are gorgeous! Everything I see on that website indicates that you are an excellent photographer - except your prices. Many talented people are not aware of their real value. Your value is way above what you are asking! You seem to be good with people and good with the camera!
    Consider offering digital packages too. Many people like to take care of the prints themselves.
    Best wishes for your art and business!
  9. Music should always be off by default. Many of your potential clients will visit your site from their workplace. The second the music comes on, it's a frantic click on the "Back" button - and a lost potential sale for you.
    Some good points already mentioned so I'll play the role of grammar police. In your "About" page: taking pictures professionally would be a less awkward construction. Do you mean formally known or formerly known ? Think about removing I feel I have a knack for, as this should come through in your photographs. And definitely remove I can pretty much get along with because it implies that there are some people you don't get along with - which may or may not be true, but you don't want negative connotations. And just go right ahead and say that you specialize in location photography - that's the formal term for what you do, no need to give your own name for it.
    I looked very briefly at your "Services" section and the only thing I'd change is this: we work with each client on a personal basis.
  10. Again, thanks to all of your wonderful critiques. Especially the "grammer police!" My mother will be very happy you corrected me. I would hate having something out there with bad grammer, so thank you! Things have been a little crazy here so I have not completed the updates but will do that soon.
    About pricing, how do you go about your pricing? Is there a calculation you use to determine your pricing? Do you base it off of other photographers?
    As you can see, this has always been a struggle for me to be fair to my clients but to myself as well.
    Do any of you do packages? The only reason I did this was because many times I would get 40.00 (my old location fee) for the session but then they would only order 1 8x10 or something like that. So, I thought if I had packages they had to purchase first to get to the single print orders, that would ensure me some compensation. Does that make sense?
    Your thoughts on that would be greatly appreciated!
  11. Hi guys!
    Well based on all the feedback I got (thank you, thank you, thank you) I have made some adjustments to my site. I shortened a lot of the Services and About sections and fixed some grammatical errors. (Those were embarrassing!) I also adjusted my pricing. It is a bit scary, but it more in line with other professionals in this area. I also got rid of the music!
    If you want to give it one more go, here it is as a reminder
    I am ready to launch it to the world!
    **I also forgot to mention that I am going to add more pictures too. I like the suggestion about having two portrait pictures side by side to make use of the horizontal format. Also, there is one pictures in the home gallery that I have as Landscape because that is how I took it. (It is of my 4 year old Elise). Should I make it Portrait even though I took it Landscape. Several mistook it as sideways. Thanks!
  12. Getting the pricing just right is one of the hardest thing to do in any business. I think you could still let them order prints after 30 or 90 days but make it clear that it would cost them a lot more.
    I would follow convention and put the menu on the top. People automatically look there for site navigation clues. And getting the back and forward buttons to work in the browser would make it easier too.
    Also you can replace "Information" in the menu with "Services" and "About" with the pricing on the services page. The less you require people to think by doing it the way others do it, the more likely they are to stay on your site.
    And even on this site people refer to negatives made from digital images as digital negatives. I don't think that's what you mean.
    Finally, for my information, what online site do you use to present your proofs?
  13. My brother used to ask me about pricing. I always told him to charge enough to make it fun.
  14. Hi Suzanne
    I just looked at your website and there looks like there is an error under services and your wedding & engagement prices, the last two sentences repeat with both $850 and $750 for 4 hours. You might want to change it and maybe charge more too, your work looks very good. I guess it may depend on where you live though.
  15. Hi Suzanne
    I love the site and can't add much more to what's been said. Its joyous and fresh and the photography is excellent. I concur with everyone that the pricing is well below what I would expect for work of your caliber. How do you find working with adobe flash on your site?
  16. Suzanne, +1 to the comments from the others, especially no sound. One comment: My initial impression of the site was that the background color seemed odd. We have graphic artists on our floor at work and as one walked by I asked what she thought. She said mid green is currently considered to be an informal color and would not trigger feelings of confidence and professionalism. She also mentioned that, when looking at the page, the current color draws the eye away from what is really important, your photography. She suggested you use a much, much darker green. She also mentioned that you might choose a color that is supportive of the pictures that will be in the center frame, i.e., if your pictures are warm and inviting that a very dark warm color would be best, if many landscapes then a very dark green or blue, etc.
    Good luck! Gael
  17. The people on this forum never cease to amaze me! I have to say your interest in my little website and my pricing, and me as an individual is amazing. Thank you all for your feedback! I TRULY appreciate it.
    John Crowe, thanks for pointing out my error and for the compliment. You know since I updated my website and my pricing, I have already lost a job to someone else whose wedding packages start at 600.00. I now know what it feels like to loose a job because of another photographer low balling their pricing. Yes it stings a bit. :)
    John Souleles, thank you for the compliments. I am based out MS and my adjusted pricing is about in line with others in the area. They may still be a tad bit lower, but MUCH better than before. You should have seen the "before" pricing. As far as the flash goes...I am using a very basic service called "Photobiz". They pretty much do everything. I just upload the photos and the content. I like a bit of flash, but I do not like overkill. I think this template has a good balance.
    GK, because I am using Photobiz I do not have much control over the colors. :( I did my own website before and could do whatever I wanted to do, but it did not look as professional. In choosing Photobiz, I sort of lost a lot of my controls. I basically chose a template then chose a color palette. I really like green so I chose this palette. I really wish I had more control so I could make the changes you are referring to. It took me so long to update my website before but Photobiz does make it VERY easy to update it and I can change the look at a touch of a button. Thanks for your feedback, I really appreciate it.
    Again, thanks to all!
  18. You know since I updated my website and my pricing, I have already lost a job to someone else whose wedding packages start at 600.00. I now know what it feels like to loose a job because of another photographer low balling their pricing. Yes it stings a bit. :)
    If you can, try to inconspicuously find out who that photographer is. I'm willing to bet that their work isn't at your level, and besides, price-shopping clients aren't the ones you'd necessarily want to work with anyway.
  19. Regarding the green - there is one easy way to fix this problem. Simply reverse the order of the two initial images on the home page slideshow, i.e., instead of starting with the b&w family portrait, which contrasts with the green and makes it stick out more - start with the image of the groom getting the petals thrown in his face. The green of the bridesmaids' dresses in that shot complements the site color beautifully, and the psychological effect of using that as a lead-in softens the jarring effect of the site color.
  20. Everything looks good now. The only other minor suggestions I can make are: try to avoid underlining anything that isn't a link. Your email address on the contact page SHOULD be a "mailto:" link. Try to avoid opening a new window with your blog link, as people generally hate popups. Just do a simple link, which allows users to hit the "Back" button on their browsers if they want to go back to your site. And regarding the blog itself - you should have your email address easily accessible, preferably in the "About Me" section, again as a "mailto:" link.

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