personal or tailormade??

Discussion in 'Website Creation' started by karl_blackwell, Sep 24, 2010.

  1. I'm about to have my website completely revamped, since my current one, after nearly 4 years is looking rather tired... (www.karlblackwell.com), and I'm thinking of employing a web designer, who will do precisely what I ask of him regarding page layout and display, plus I'll be able to add or modify images as well as headings, titles etc for around 1000 US$. I won't be able to do e-commerce for this price but I'm not sure how bothered I am by this feature... I'm wondering if anyone reading could advise me as to whether they feel there are major advantages with choosing a personal web designer over the tailor-made equivalents. I've tampered a little with photoshelter and foliolink but haven't been able to create a design or template that is exactly what I'm looking for. This might be me doing something wrong!
    Any advice would be very welcome thanks
    Karl
    www.karlblackwell.com
     
  2. Just make absolutely sure that you're left with a framework that YOU can maintain, when it comes to the content, adding new pages based on that same content, etc. Don't let the designer walk away with a check until you've sat through a session where you, yourself, create and edit content.
     
  3. I've been toying with the idea of having a 'website of my own' for a while and have been looking at al sorts of options. One place I discovered recently is called~: ViewBook.
    The examples gallery will give you a feel of what you might be able to live with~ or not. Might be a money saving too from your 1000$ budget. There is an option where you can sell through too (minus a 15% commision) for the handling/printing/maling etc.
     
  4. I thoroughly agree with Matt. For the money make sure you know how the Website is designed and works (programs, code, etc.), and you can update the Website yourself on your computer and uploaded to the server. This is especially true if you're using script-driven Website and pages. Make sure he explains it all (good programs should have plenty of comments throughout it to do this). Good luck.
     
  5. Thanks Scott. Further to my initial posting, but still in the same vein, do you feel there are advantages in terms of how professional the site looks if it's done with a good web designer, or do you think the pro packages of, say photoshelter, ViewBook (which I've just discovered thanks to Mike) or Foliolink can look just as good?
    Many thanks
     
  6. There can be an advantage in savings with overhead. For example, building a complex design (CMS or like a stable and secure database-related forum like this one, for example) can have a good bit of work on research and development behind it. If you are using some pre-made forms of those kinds of systems, then you may save money in not having to reinvent the wheel.
    How about this one: valid code.
    If the code is valid, it will display better in a browser. The bad news is that valid and validated code often does not look top-notch; but, it's sturdy and stable. And, it's not a matter of opinion. There are several HTML markup validators around from the W3C. Try this one: http://validator.w3.org/#validate_by_input
    You copy/paste the source code in there, hit "Validate," and it tells you if the code is right or wrong. If the markup doesn't validate, that means that it doesn't match the rules of the World Wide Web.
    There is a lot of HTML out there which can be shown by browsers and different kinds of computers which will not validate. Yet, code that will not validate is often plagued with problems.
    There are several kinds of validators out there: mobile phones, CSS style checkers, and so on. Some companies will build in validators to their own software: check those results against what the W3C says. Sometimes the companies will say their code validates their system. What this means is, they wrote the rules so that their stuff will check out on their test. That's not very useful.
    I mention this with the idea that you can use this question, Does the code validate, to act as an objective indicator of whether or not the product purchased is up to snuff.
    There's a lot of stuff out there that's an opinion about the codes; but, either it will validate against Unicorn at W3C or not. The standards which guide that checker are the bulletins they have issued on how the browsers are meant to work; it's as close as we're going to get to an objectively observable truth about the stability and usability of some code. So, I check my markup there. I admit, though, my website looks like it was made in 1995.
     
  7. When I wrote "there can be an advantage in savings with overhead, above, I meant an advantage in using something that was already made.
    I had a look at your website. Is the problem that you want to change the look? The code for your website didn't validate under XHMTL, but I think that's because they were trying squeeze in some script so that the picture appearance would change. It'd probably be a small matter to fix your current code to get the page to validate and still perform the same functions, as-is. (Sorry, I don't do XHMTL myself, so I can't specify how the correction should be made).
    This is really about changing the look of the website, though, isn't it?
     
  8. Hey, if a bunch of this stuff about validating the code is news to you, then you may want to skim over some articles from the W3C. These are the people who organize the web so that stuff works together. They have some pretty good articles on how this stuff is done. It's in a variety of rhetorics, from real simple to technical.
    http://www.w3.org/
    This is their page with some facts about web design and graphics. Maybe that can help you fortify your knowledge about the technical aspects, and make you a more savvy decider about these services you want to get.
    http://www.w3.org/standards/webdesign/
    This would be a page I'd recommend for understanding why having your web page code validate would be a good idea:
    http://www.w3.org/standards/about.html
    Their links to articles on web site quality: http://www.w3.org/QA/Library/#websitequality
     
  9. Some of that might look like it's a stretch from photography to a technical bulletin from W3C; but, when we pose the question, What about the quality of _____ website, then that's what the people who built the Internet have to say. Worth a skim to maybe find a piece of info or two.
    I'll tell you this, using the Validator alone cuts down on the trouble shooting a great deal. If the website can get through validation, it'll function. And that's a good quality check right there.
     
  10. Karl, I'm not the one to ask about professional Web designers or on-line photo/image Website services. I do my own Web pages (ok, it looks like it too but they're simple and easy to add, update and manage). I work with coding and programming (started in 1994 with a gov't agency Website before the applications were available). I like the full control, although it's a fair amount of routine work, but then I'm working on non-photography and some history projects too.
    That said, though, there are some excellent Web design and Website management applications with either wysiwyg or coding intefaces, some with built-in script writers. And there are tons of on-line tools, tutorials and examples to do your own. What I've found talking with friends and people who visit my Website, you'll be surprised that photographers seem to put too much into the "professional" look. It should look professional but people are looking for a clean presentation and design, ease of use and navigation, galleries (examples) and good explanation and descriptions of information or services.
    John is right about code, especially with html 5 now with the latest versions of browsers. The W3C folks have gone a good way to simplify and ensure backward compatibility with compliant code, excepting IE's historic quirks and tweaks, but here again John's point is good, follow W3C standards and you can elect to accommodate old IE browser or not (I don't). I would also advise against being too fancy with the presentation, especially flash, or scripts if you plan to market to portable devices (iPad, cellphones, etc.). Simplicity works better there.
    Sorry to go on, but there's a lot to say if you're doing a complete redesign, and there are tons of great advice on PN from very experienced folks (exc. me of course). Good luck and feel free to take any conversation off the thread.
     
  11. Thanks John and Scott. That's quite technical (for someone like me) but I really appreciate the advice and I'm taking heed, if slowly! In fact ยก've been told by Viewbook that they have a facility which will make their flash sites work on ipads and iphones... And i like the ease with which you can create your site, and manage it... plus there's a 1 month free trial, with plenty of email /phone advice, so I'm probably leaning towards these pre-prepared sites, rather than the web-designer option. When i say i need it to look professional, as a pro photographer, you can understand I want it to stand out from, say your average flickr site, in terms of both look and functionality. Thanks again to you both for very detailed replies.
    Karl
     
  12. Regardless how you get your site done, make sure you read this first:
    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=41252
     
  13. Karl, I have not tried this myself, but I have heard good things about:
    http://www.squarespace.com/about/
    You can try it for free. You build your own webpage. They have a monthly fee, depending on usage. Didn't read their fine print, so it might be just as expensive as your web designer.
    Good luck! BTW, your current webpage looks quite nice. Not tired at all. Clean and simple!
    : )
     
  14. Thanks to you all... and sorry for the late reply, i've simply been snowed under with this new site design. It looks like I'm going with a photoshelter pro package (and possibly viewbook too). Although the former doesn't give me a homepage quite up to spec in terms of the "wow" factor, there's so much else that is included, including v good SEO, that I feel I ought to be following this direction. I appreciate all your comments and I'll get back to you if I learn anything myself along the way!
    Karl
     

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