I am often asked how to make a website on low/no budget…
Tim Peter’s”Thinks” Blog: Here’s a great overview of current blog/cms options. it compares these 5 services: Weebly, SiteKreator, SynthaSite, WordPress.com (the free version) & Webnode
Most of these sites offer free versions with paid upgrades for ad-free, custom domain names and other add-ons.
I am partial to WordPress. I started using it in early 2009 and have been really impressed with how easy to use and powerful it is. It helps to have millions of happy users. Note there is a free version that is hosted for you at WordPress.com and a downloadable version at WordPress.org that lets you fully customize how it works and how it looks. Learn more about the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. I have observed how the two communities offer synergy among web designers/developers and users and that accounts for some of WordPress’s success.
So my first choice for a free photo portfolio (or photo blog) is WordPress.com. Start by viewing the photo-based themes. Note that some of the have a one-time fee and you might want to upgrade from a free WordPress.com to a paid version to avoid occasional ads and get more storage but even those options are not needed for some people seeking the most basic options.
Let me address options for a more narrow audience: fine art photographers who may also want to present commercial work.
Design elements to watch out for with these template-driven photo sites
- Many templates that are too much about the design and not enough about your photos. I always think of a website that presents art as being like an art gallery – white walls and minimal distractions.
- Music and audio. Don’t need it. Many users resent it.
- Flash — it is invisible to search engines. Unless the designers (and/or the search engines) work extra hard to get around some of those limitations.
- This interview is a good reality check.
- This list of web design tips for photographers is short and to the point.
They make a product specific to the photo industry so if that is you then it probably does a lot of what you would need it to do. But it’s not cheap: starts at $800 and that version has a lot of limitations. 2012 update: seems they no longer charge any up front fee but hosting is $39/mo.
Starts at $16/year. Nice and simple. Older templates seem to restrict page height – a serious UI issue.
Nice and simple. starts at only $4/mo.
A photo folio
Looks like these guys have a very well-thought-out product. I like the full screen mode. $1000+$17/mo (or just $34/mo with no startup).
Their feature list is long and startup prices are below some others. But you still are stuck with the long term high monthly rates ($99 + $35/mo). They will tack on a WordPress blog but it seems there is no integration between their software and WordPress so that’s not a very clean solution and it misses some SEO opportunities.
If you wanted to offer cheap framed prints you might use one of the above options for a gallery and then set up a free qoop.com page to sell from. Most of the options above don’t offer an automated way for people to order prints.
- Weebly: has a free version but starts at $8/mo if you want your own domain
- SquareSpace: starts at $8/mo
- Bits & Bristles: Great design, starts at $18/mo
None of these options give you the flexibility of working with a skilled designer and WordPress expert but can be a great foundation for building content and getting “out there”. I often find the small customizations that I am able to offer my clients is what makes all the difference in making their site unique and fulfilling their workflow needs without making them fit into a preexisting template. I am also training my clients step by step in how to organize their content, update their sites over time and market online via search engines and social media.