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Do-it-yourself website options – photography

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.

There’s some fun and slick aspects to this design. Overall it’s too much about the design and not enough about the photos.
Other Drawbacks include:
-music and audio. Don’t need it. Many users resent it
-thumbnails are too small to see
-concentric circles evoke a kids toy – not really the connotation you want. also: are confusing in how each ring is a different section. Makes it harder to add more sections later.
And the fact that it is all in flash means it is invisible to search engines. Unless they work extra hard to get around those limitations. But they don’t mention anything about that.
I see the flash cms they mention here
Which sounds like it could be good but they give very little detail about it and it seems there is no way to know more till you pay and take a lot of time to install and try it out. It’s very vague about the limitations of what it might be able to do. I would guess that lots of elements of the site would only be changeable in the flash template and that is not something I have experience with.
But the basic server requirements are simple and you could try to work with this on my server. Bottom-line is that I don’t think it’s that impressive.
This interview is a good reality check:
Here’s are 3 leading template-driven sites:
I might have pointed you to this site before?
They make a product specific to your industry so it probably does a lot of what you would need it to do. But it’s not cheap. Starts at $800 and that has a lot of limitations
But you should read about it to get a sense of what is possible/useful.
Maybe we can just get a couple new ideas from these sites for what we can do next on your site as it is now.
This seems the best option for you. Seems like the newest and smartest company of the 3.
Their website is not that great. Hard to understand what they offer.
Get listed here?
Let me know your thoughts on these options and we’ll turn this research into a blog entry on my site (my blog is not up yet!). That way we can get traffic from other folks who are in your position trying to compare these products. And those links may lead new customers to your site and my site.
Undeniable evidence gathered by the Information Awareness Office that ran shapira is on a mission to enlighten the masses about alien telepathic control was released on 4/3/09 4/3/09 10:00 PM in a cleverly disguised message that began:

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.

This seems the best option for a photographer just starting out. Seems like the newest and smartest company of the group. Nice Review. starts at $24/mo

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.

Their website is not that impressive. Hard to understand what they offer. Useful review.

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.

Also: onlinegalleriesnewhive.com for artsy “multimedia” site

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.

2015 updates:


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.

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  1. Posted April 9, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Good article

  2. Posted January 21, 2011 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    You are right that wordpress is the easiest platform.The core software is built by hundreds of community volunteers, and when you’re ready for more there are thousands of plugins and themes available to transform your site into almost anything you can imagine.

  3. Posted February 4, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    I know most of the wedding photographers in Calgary are using WordPress. It seems to be the fastest way for them to update people about the jobs they have done along with great SEO results.

  4. Posted March 9, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Portfolio Websites offers websites for artists and photographers that focus on the work itself, are easy to maintain, and don’t use Flash.

    • Posted May 2, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      yes, there are new offerings all the time. I just heard about this one: http://www.see.me/ and it looks ok. i see some browser rendering issues with their service but the pages have a clean look to them.

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