Thursday, 15 October 2009

New website - honesty and advice

I need your help. But first a little background info.

With hands held aloft, I'll admit that it's been a while since the Giles Babbidge Photography website was tweaked, revamped, poked or otherwise toyed with. I could come up with a number of excuses but, frankly, there's no call for that. So I won't.

Fact is, the site's looking a bit dated these days. And in the words of John Cage (anyone remember Ally McBeal?) - "it troubles me".

But, hey, at least I've realised this - so I'm already on the road to resolving the situation, right?

There's been a fair bit of change at GBP in the past 12 months. Again, no need to elaborate, but one thing's for sure - the direction of my work and the way I promote myself, my services, have both been shaped by the the rise of new media (online social networks, blogs, videos etc) and my desire to adapt and make the most of such technologies. You'll know this if you're following me on Twitter, or have connected via YouTube or LinkedIn.

So what am I trying to say? I'll be completely honest - the current site just isn't me. Sure it's my imagery, my words, my philosophies even... but I feel it doesn't do a satisfactory job of representing me or the work I undertake. Don't ask me how it's happened, but the site is now far too 'corporate' for my liking - and although I frequently undertake corporate work, I'm just not of a corporate nature, so why should the site be if I'm trying to get 'me' accross?

With all this in mind, I'd like to put out a simple request and ask a quick favour of you.

If you could spare just 2 minutes to take a look at the website in its current state [ed. this is no longer available, as the new site is now in place!], and give me some feedback (either in the comments section at the bottom of this post or in an email), I would be extremely grateful. What do you like?... What do you dislike?... What would you prefer to see less or more of?... You know the drill.

Just so it's clear, I'm not going to take your comments personally, not going to take offense, and certainly not going to argue back at you from one keyboard to another. I'm being completely open and honest here, and I would ask you to do the same.

Inspiration often comes in the form of criticism - both good and bad - and as I see it, this is what I need in order to drive the website development not just to a satisfactory resolution, but to create an online resource that I can be happy and proud of.

Your thoughts about this here blog will also be gratefully received.

Thanks guys :)

[Update: Thank you all so much for your positive and constructive feedback. I hope you'll agree that the new site is a great improvement!]


Rupert Dixon said...

Hi Giles. Apologies for not looking at this for you sooner. Anyhow I have had a look at the website and my comments are as follows; (please bear in mind I am not an expert, these are just my views)
-Love the colour, however it may be a good idea to jazz things up a bit by having different theme colours for each section? just a thought.
-You have too many tabs along the top of each page and they are confusing to follow or find what you want. Can you reduce these and perhaps them down the side of your page?
-I always think your contact details should be clearly visible on each page. It always puts me off when you have to go and find them.
-As with general contact details, and in order to embrace the new media, perhaps you should have clear links, maybe in picture form, to your twitter, blog, linkedin etc?
-Lastly each page is a carbon copy (except the content) of the home page.

I hope you find this useful.


Aspidistra Comstock said...

Well, you did ask!

The first thing that strikes me is the black background which I find a bit overwhelming. OK for something personal like the blog but not if you’re selling. The white on black writing is a bit of a problem if your eyesight isn’t perfect as it shimmers. High contrast black on white or very pale grey would be preferable. The grey on black works best so I would also lose the blue writing if you must retain the black background!

I think colour is especially important if the wedding side of the business is vital. If your site is being visited by potential brides they will be living largely in a world of white, silver and pink. The sudden plunge into black might be too much! Black is also quite masculine.

Greys are corporate friendly and neutral. How about range of pale greys and grey greens for each section? Silvery for weddings and private, grey green for corporate, white for writing services (really important to double check for typos!).

What I do like about your site is that it is really pared down without boxes and unnecessary lines/frames all over the place!

If it is all about the photography then the images need to be larger. Suggest a smaller number of larger ones such as the Aston Martin woman and the schoolgirl writing (great shots) but realise there are chances of your work being copied and used. What can you afford to lose to them?

I would drop the hand drawn camera motif, cute and friendly but it isn’t obvious and clear enough. I would also make your name and the word “photography” twice as large. How about putting your contact details in a block to the right of it? The separate photographic and wedding commission forms are a bit confusing and unless there’s a good reason for retaining them I’d stick to one email form.

Giles said...

Rupert - thanks for the feedback (I know we have discssed this further in our meetings, hence no direct reply here).

Aspidistra - thanks also for your thoughts. I agree that the black is rather harsh, which is why I have decided to make that one of the fundamental changes (moving in favour of white/grey, I think).

Again, the key/obvious aspect with any photographer's site is the use of images - and it has been said/agreed that there is too much writing on the current site and that pictures need to take a higher priority - to the point that I'm thinking along the lines of one 'main' image on the home page, certainly, set up in a slide-show fashion. The difference this time around, however, is that it will most likely occupy the majority of the page; to this end, the page links will be reduced (say, to a maximum of 5 or 6), so as to de-clutter.

The logo... hmm... possibly. I understand what you are saying about it not being 'obvous' enough, which is why it never appears isolated from the 'Giles Babbidge Photography' wording. Funnily enough, this is an element which has come up in discussion, too, and I am currently evaluating a re-brand (which will likely include a change of text style/sizing).

The two contact forms will most likely be removed, following further research into their value. I am keen to keep the 'get in touch' page as straight-forward as possible in future.

Thanks for taking the time to contribute! I'm sure we'll be in touch via Twitter between now and the reveal, so I may well call on your views again, if that's alright? ;)