Working Notes: The Gallery Front Page design and Rethinking Photoshelter

One of the tasks last night was to spend some time going more in-depth on Photoshelter and dig into the design and presentation of some of the sites they promote as well as some other sites I found that use their service. As I was going through it, I noticed that the blogs of the sites I really liked weren’t hosting on Photoshelter but were separate. Lindsay Adler, for instance, is a WordPress blog — not obvious at first look because whoever built that did a nice integration. One that does use the Photoshelter system to blog is Robin Moore, which looks fine to me.

Of the sites they promote as part of their site marketing, about 90% of those that have blogs are blogging on a different platform; about half seem to be WordPress, but I found one Squarespace, one Tumblr, some Blogspot blogs and a couple I didn’t figure out.

This is a good time to remind everyone to take some time and validate your assumptions. One of my key reasons to consider a Photoshelter site was because I wanted the integrated blog, so I wouldn’t have to muck with one more thing to complicate my life. When you look at what Photoshelter users do, most of them are blogging off that platform. Is that because the blogging platform is weak? Is it because they had existing blogs and kept them when they moved their photography to Photoshelter?

I don’t know. I don’t see any obvious flaws in the blogs that are hosted there (and Photoshelter does handle it, unlike SmugMug), but when you find something like this where the data is so skewed away from what you expected to find, it’s a good idea to take a couple of steps back and think about it again.

There’s been that voice in the back of my head reminding me that I could build the site myself in WordPress, but I’ve wanted to avoid that because of the time involved, but stepping back and looking at this entire project as it’s evolving, the incremental time increase isn’t going to be as significant as I first thought; by using wordpress/photocrati/NextGen as the core I can leverage a lot of design in common across the sites and create a nice common look between the galleries on the gallery site and the portfolios on the main photo site. And the cost is sweat equity and not monthly charges.

Hmm.

So I need to think this one through, but now I seem to be leaning towards building it out myself. Whether that really makes sense or whether I’m rationalizing that because it’s fun to build this stuff, I’m not sure yet. Or whether it matters…

A few notes on the front page of the gallery site

I was thinking about the front page of the gallery site, which isn’t actually covered by photos, but by blog postings. I expect someone will notice that and ask whether that’s a mistake — shouldn’t a photo site promote the photos?

Yes, but…

The gallery site is really a utility site; it’s job is to hold the photos, make them nice and pretty for the google-bot to search and encourage people to visit from search engines, and put them online for me to use in other ways. I don’t see the site’s role as attracting users (and I’ll be stunned if more than five people subscribe to the RSS), but instead I need to build out the navigation and text to help people find the rest of my content on the other sites. Putting some big images on the front page and making it super pretty might confuse people about whether this is my main photo site or not. To have it look a little utilitarian — kinda like Flickr instead of an online portfolio — makes sense to me here since I want the front page to have a quiet feel of “this is not the good stuff” because, well, that’s not the good stuff. That’s the okay stuff.

There’s still a fair bit of work on the chrome and the backing text to make that clearer, but that’s why it looks like a blog with photos on the front page and not a photography site.

And.. Thinking of adding one more piece to the puzzle…

And in the shower this morning, I started thinking about some of the other bits of my online world that have been on the “someday” list. There are a couple of hunks of my past languishing in the world of linked text files:

  • OtherRealms: the SF Fanzine I published online and on paper in the 80s, which gathered a couple of Hugo nominations along the way (I win: finished ahead of No Award). I’ve long thought that some day I’d do something to present this content better than the current “it’s here, dig through if you wish” presentation that looks like something you’d see on the browser of a Friends episode. This morning I started thinking I could rebuild this using yet another WordPress site and do something nice to it. (“hey, it wouldn’t be too much work. honest!”).
  • Those Mailing list archives: 500,000+ emails from the history of the mailing lists we ran over the years. To me, this is an archive of a point in time online that deserves to be studied. From a technical level, trying to make them more presentable (and more important, searchable) is a non-trivial project, coding it all and dumping it into a database where I can do full text searches on it. I’ve had a design for this for years, but never the motivation to build it. And I still don’t — I doubt I’ll ever get to it at this point. But I’d like to think maybe sometime.

This morning shower project meeting has me thinking that maybe I should do the OtherRealms piece; if I shift over the fiction bit, I can turn it into an archival site of my days when I was a lot more involved in SF/F fandom and SFWA than I am today. I really do wish those OtherRealms issues had a higher profile and, like, things like links to individual reviews and articles. My first guess is a couple of weeks of grunt work to pull it all together, another week to do cleanup and make it pretty. Maybe, just maybe, it makes sense to do this.

This is the joy of projects like this. for a while, they tend to encourage widening the scope and adding more stuff to the project list. the big trick in managing this is figuring out what’s a good investment of time and what isn’t (hint: that mailing list project isn’t). And a project like this, unlike a software project, doesn’t have a “I’ll do this in the next release” flag. While I expect to tweak these sites over time, I don’t plan to do do a second round of work on them once I build things, so I’m not getting into the “we’ll put this on hold for the next phase”. I don’t want a next phase here, I want to get back to writing and taking pictures…

 

Posted in Redesign 2015: Upgrading chuqui.com in public

Checkpoint: galleries.chuqui.com

Time for a checkpoint. As I write this it’s Saturday (Jan 3, 2015) about 4PM. I’ve just point about four hours into whacking the galleries site with a stick, and I’ve basically got the thing built out the way I want it, minus any real design customization.

Functionally, the site is now 99% complete, in about four hours of hacking. This is why I love geeking WordPress for smaller projects like this. So far, this is 99% integration of existing tools. I’ve added one new plug in beyond what I documented before, WP Post Navigation which lets me customize the previous/next navigation on post pages better than the default. The photocrati theme is Scout (that might change but so far, I like it for this purpose), and the only changes I’ve made to it are two small CSS hacks to hide comments and the default page navigation, and I changed the size/color of the footer a bit.

there are basically three content types on this site: the front page, the blog post detail page, and the gallery page. I’ve decided to go with the fairly standard right sidebar. The front page has room for four blog posts of the type I’m planning to do (gallery announcements or short admin pieces). I’m putting in a photo from the NextGen galleries for the featured image. The image blocks in the sidebar are done by NextGen. The other sidebar items are standard wordpress widgets.

The gallery page display is a standard NextGen Masonry album. I’ve dumped in two sets of images (at 1200px on the long side) to experiment with. I could publish it like this and it’d be okay, if rather generic. All of this stuff is basically using the functionality that comes with the packages I chose (which is why I chose them).

Since I’m going to continue working on this, here are screen shots of the three page types (front page, blog, and gallery). you can go and click over to the site and poke at it all you want.

2015-01-03_16-03-09

 

 

 

2015-01-03_16-04-04

 

2015-01-03_16-03-38

Next steps:

I need to figure out how to organize and move images from Lightroom to NextGen. I have some ideas about that, but I need to do some experimentation.

  • And the site design which I can’t really do here; I need to do the Photoshelter design first and then adapt it back to this theme.
  • Very happy with the progress so far; I didn’t expect to be this far into it yet, but I’m trying to see how much I can get done before I get back to work on monday (of course, you won’t see this for a couple of days….)
  • Work out some of the back end infrastructure details (content hosting on a CDN for performance, caching and performance tuning, and some housekeeping like tweaking backups and etc…)

I do think the next big piece of the puzzle is to fire up the photoshelter site. But I can see getting all of the photos loaded and organized and being able to retire the flickr site fairly quickly without waiting for the final site design and chrome. Even generic, this isn’t bad at all.

Fascinated to hear what you think about the basic look and feel and structure…

 

 

Posted in Redesign 2015: Upgrading chuqui.com in public

Working Notes: Fitting out a WordPress Site

WordPress is a good CMS, but a default installation rarely does everything you want and need.

Making it look good — themes

To fix that, you need to write or acquire a theme, which defines the look and feel of the site. The current version of WordPress comes with a number of pre-installed themes and the quality and configurability of those themes has improved massively from a few years back and they’re well worth experimenting with if you’re just starting out.

It doesn’t take long to move beyond that — there’s a massive ecosystem of themes available for WordPress, many free, others licensed or purchased. A good place to start looking is Envato’s Themeforest, where most themes are currently sold for $40-60. Or go to your favorite search engine and type in “WordPress Theme” and see the glory of endless pages of people who want to sell you one.

Since I’ve used it and know it pretty well, I’m using the Photocrati theme for the galleries site. For the FYC site and the updated www.chuqui.com sites I’m now evaluating themes, but I’ve already cut the list down to two vendors (Elegant themes and Devpress). Both use what is effectively a membership model, you pay to license their entire selection of themes and then you can use them as you want. Both are at a fairly standard price for this — $69, which is close to the cost of an Envato theme but gives you more flexibility. Since I need two themes, going with a single theme vendor is more cost effective, and I’ve found that if you find the right vendor you get a higher quality theme (although there are many really good themes on Envato, if you want to dig through them). Since both of these sites need to be fully responsive, I started my search using “WordPress theme responsive” to avoid the themes that haven’t been upgraded for that capability yet — and frankly, I recommend that to everyone.

Adding Functionality — Plug-ins

Then you need to start adding in the functionality you need that isn’t part of the core WordPress release. Every WordPress geek has their own favorite set of plug-ins they use on every site. Here’s mine:

  • Akismet: spam blocking. Works well. Lets me toss $5/year to the wordpress folks as a thank you for doing everything they do. A bargain.
  • Google XML Sitemaps
  • Google Analytics (except for Galleries, Photocrati supports this so I don’t need one)
  • Jetpack: See below
  • Optimize Database after Deleting Revisions: let’s me optimize and clean up the database
  • Safe Redirect Manager: when I delete something, I can redirect the URL to something else. That way, if I convert a set of blog postings to a topic page, I can redirect and anyone with the old pages bookmarked gets sent to the updated content (and so do search engines: important!)
  • Simple Image Sizes: let’s me easily reconfigure the default sizes available in the default media gallery (not useful for NextGen gallery, though)
  • UpdraftPlus – Backup/Restore: backs everything up nightly to Dropbox
  • WP Missed Schedule: If you schedule a posting and for some reason that time got missed, this catches it and makes sure the posting happens.
  • WP Super Cache: speed optimizations. I set this up early in development because I want to find problems when I create them, not when I go production and turn caching on (only to have it break something or malfunction. Not that this would ever happen)

My goal with plug-ins is pretty simple: use as few as necessary to do the job; use plug-ins that are in wide use and under active development (if one I use doesn’t get an update in about a year, I’ll usually start looking for a replacement or look at removing it from my systems, since if they break and aren’t being maintained, you can end up with some badly timed crisis hacking).

Note: I don’t use any of the SEO plug-ins any more. I found (by accident) that turning the one I was using off cut the page load speed in half. I’d rather have fast loading pages. It’s unclear just how much they benefit you in a current WordPress installation, honestly, I’ve stopped using them and Google still likes me. YMMV.

These problems — slow page loading, huge memory or CPU footprints, etc — are why I always tell people to use as few plug-ins as possible and keep them current. When I’ve gone in and debugged broken or slow WordPress sites for people, I often find they had fun installing and testing plug-ins, then forgot about the 20 plug-ins they tried and ended up not using — but they were still installed and activated, taking up RAM and CPU and screwing over site performance. Put your WordPress on a diet and disable (and delete!) plug-ins you aren’t using or don’t really need. This is also why I always start with a small core set of plug-ins and then add in on a project by project basis, rather than keep a large toolbox of plug-ins around in case I want one.

One missing plug-in: Disqus. When I revise my sites, I will be disabling commenting on them and where I can, removing the commenting controls from public view. I currently use Disqus on my main site, and it’s served me well, but the reality is that almost all of the feedback I get is via twitter, and more rarely Google+ and email. Comments are very rarely used. On the flip side, adding Disqus support to the pages can slow down page load time significantly, and comments are the most likely vector in for trolls and spammers, and while Disqus has done a nice job of filtering those out for me, the combination of infrequent use, slower page load speed and high risk of bad things happening makes it an easy decision for me to choose to cancel this out. More and more sites are choosing to do away with comments, and this is a somewhat controversial topic [citation needed] but I’ve ended up siding with the people who think comments are a past tool and as long as there are other reasonable and open channels (especially twitter) for people to engage and converse with me and each other on something I write, I’m comfortable choosing to shift the rest of the conversation there.

Project Specific Plug-ins

At this time, I’ve only installed two plug-ins that are project specific:

  • NextGEN Gallery (Free)
  • NextGen Plus (which layers in extra functionality for a small cost)

Do not expect me to leave it as is, but I don’t know what I’ll want to add yet.

Wiring up Services

There are various services I always wire up to my wordpress sites:

  • Google Webmaster Site: keeps me informed of any possible problems and how the site is being seen by their search engine.
  • Google Analytics: my system for figuring out what you folks, the readers, are doing and what’s working and not working so well.
  • Jetpack (wordpress.com): WordPress’s way to supplement WordPress Core with functionality. I’ve got some mutterings about the way they do this but it works and many of the tools do the job quite well. The ones I typically turn on initially are:
    • Custom CSS (but Photocrati also supports this so I may not use it)
    • Enhanced Distribution
    • Extra Sidebar Widgets
    • Markdown (I’m finally going to start using Markdown, this time for sure)
    • Monitor
    • Omnisearch
    • Photon (maybe. or use CDN in wp super cache? Need to evaluate)
    • Publicize
    • Shortcode Embeds
    • Site Icon
    • Site Verification (hooks you into Google Webmaster easily)
    • WP.me shortlinks
    • WordPress.com stats

And with that, I now have a basic wordpress site installed and functional. Now all it needs is some content and a customized design on top of the basic design Photocrati gives me. those are the easy parts, right? Right?

 

Posted in Redesign 2015: Upgrading chuqui.com in public

The Philosophy of using both a Gallery and Portfolio site

Continuing the thought started in the last set of working notes, here’s my thinking behind why I want both a Photoshelter (aka my “portfolio” site at photo.chuqui.com) and a more casual gallery setup (at “galleries.chuqui.com” and based on WordPress, Photocrati and NextGen).

Why do I separate these photos? Because I want my portfolio of images to represent the images I’m proud of, not just the ones I’ve taken. Most “serious” or pro photographers do this to some degree or another, and it’s why my SmugMug site only has a subset of all of my images on it.

Inside Lightroom I use star ratings to rank the quality of the images. The rankings  use are:

  • ***** Best of Breed
  • **** Portfolio
  • *** Publishable
  • ** Keepers
  • * Parts and Pieces

When I do my first edit, I make a decision whether an image is a Keeper or deleted. Deletions are generally the technical dings that aren’t usable in any rational way, and those go to the great bit bucket in the sky.

My second edit looks at the Keepers and I start making decisions which images I’m going to publish and which I won’t. The primary difference is that I’m looking at a set of similar images and choosing the one (or few) that have the best gestures. My goal is to publish the fewest number of images to properly represent this shoot (NOT the most, the fewest) — unique subjects, unique gestures within a given subject, anything that makes an image special/unique or stand out. Life is too short to publish 200 left profile images of the same duck, and anyone who does that and expect their friends to actually wade through them is fooling themselves.

With my generally shooting wildlife/critter in burst mode, it’s not uncommon for me to end up with 25-50 images of the same bird or animal and many of them are quite similar. Technically they’re all fine — but of those 50, maybe only 4 or 5 show off the bird without looking like clones. Or maybe only one.

The end result might be 50 kills, 450 keepers, and 20-40 I rate 3 stars. The Kills are deleted, the Keepers are archived off to my NAS and left to age — I don’t look at them any further. As part of my importing process I add basic metadata and location info, but after that, I don’t put any effort or processing on them, and I won’t look at them again for at least a few months when I’ll take a second pass to see if any pop out as images I missed on the first run through.

I just did this to a huge archive of keepers — 38,000 — and did a “promote or purge” on that entire set. It took me about ten days of rather intense and eye-blurring evaluation, but out of the 38000, I promoted about 500 images and deleted the rest. My new process is going to be to wait at least 3-4 months and maybe six, do a second pass and either promote or purge keepers rather than keep them forever, because if they don’t fit my needs after a few months of marinating, they won’t two years from now…

Anything 3 stars or better gets published to my galleries. Some images are special, and a few are outstanding. Those get rated up further, to 4 to 5 stars, and end up in my portfolio as well. Those are the ones I show off and use for stock or in my other uses. The 3 star images are there because they’re nice and useful in blog posts to help fill out a story around the special images, and because I have some uses (like Bird ID) where I don’t need a portfolio-caliber image.

To use a musical reference, in the cast of a show or in an orchestra, everyone in the cast has to be able to hold their own with a song — but only a few of the performers get the solos. My portfolio are the soloists, and my best of breed shots are the ones that end up on the marquee.

As it currently stands, my collection looks like this:

  • Best of Breed: 94 (2%)
  • Portfolio: 465 (11%)
  • Publishable: 3504 (86%)

That’s 4063 images. Before my purge, my catalog of keepers or better was a bit over 42,000 images; over time I’ve deleted at least 10,000 dings, probably 15,000 (but I don’t track those). My ding rate can run 15%, +- 5%, depending on what I’m shooting and how cooperative my autofocus is when I’m shooting flying birds (with landscapes, the ding rates go way down, when I’m in poor light shooting moving critters, it can skyrocket. I’ve had shoots where I’ve done 100% dings because frankly, my work sucked that day — but I’d rather keep and publish fewer but better images than lower my standards).

Of the images I don’t ding on first view, about 9.5% get rated publishable. Of the publishable images only 2% get rated best of breed, and frankly, if that number grows I’d yell at myself for lowering my standards. As I’ve matured as a photographer I’ve been able to generate 5 * images more consistently — but I also review my ratings at times and I rerate older images and often there are some that get downgraded.

(Speaking of reviewing ratings, I also, once a quarter, review all of the images for the quarter against each other, so that all of the 5 star images go up against each other, 4 stars, etc — to make sure they all meet the same overall standards. It’s not unusual for a 5 star to get reset to 4, but I also find 4 star images that grow on me and get upgraded; and I’ll usually find some 3 star images that get upgraded or get downgraded to a Keeper and get unpublished; sometimes that special image may look really good when compared to the chorus, but when you put it up against all of the other special images falls short — and you can’t always rate accurately processing right after you shoot; that said, it’s 1% or less of the image that might get moved around, but it’s well worth it for that gem you just didn’t click with the first time…)

3 star images don’t get any special processing, just my standard lightroom work. The 4 and 5 star images are the ones I’ll spend extra time on in processing to really refine them, work on better titles or captions and do more extensive keywording. Part of splitting this designation between “Gallery” and “Portfolio” is efficiency — there’s no reason putting a lot of work trying to fine-tune an average image.

And when people come to see my photography, I want things set up to show them my best images — and that ultimately is why I keep my portfolio and galleries separate. My galleries might contain vacation snapshots from a road trip, or personal images, or other more casual imagery I’ll use on the blog or share with friends. I don’t need them mixed in with the images I’m hoping will attract a buyer.

Is it more work? Yes. It is worth it? I think so, yes. Once everything is set up, my processes make it easy to get the right images to the right places from within Lightroom, so with a bit of automation and thought, it all happens without a lot of chaos.

That chorus — the 3 star images — is still useful through being visible through the search engines and helping to build site recognition and SEO. That’s one reason I’ve left them on flickr until now — their search engine likes me and sends a few thousand views a day, which is nice, but those views only translate into free usage request, so the actual value is low. Moving them onto the galleries.chuqui.com sub-domain will shift them to the big search engines and will hopefully help people find my site, and hopefully, when they land on the image, the page will help them learn about me and maybe go visit my full photo site (remember the previous post I did where I talked about Call to Actions? same happens here, of course…) or check out the affiliate advertising. I’m better off controlling this content myself now rather than sub-contract it out to Flickr. A bit more work to set up, but I’ll have better control of the user experience and I think it’s more than worth it.

(if I’m bringing my galleries in house, why am I then pushing out my portfolio site and photo blog to Photoshelter and outsourcing it’s hosting? Because in that case, the work needed to build out the photo site myself is significant because that site needs to be seriously polished and work well reliably — and I want to be able to take advantage of their design skills and SEO knowledge. I could replicate it on a self-hosted site, but the number of man-hours I’d spend to match what they can bring me would delay the project months, or I’d cut corners and pretend I’d catch up on them later… )

So that’s why I’m doing this; I think I can benefit more by bringing the galleries in from flickr and host them myself, but I can benefit a lot more by moving my “professional” site off to Photoshelter and taking advantage of their expertise rather than building my own. With the galleries, I only need an “80%” solution, while Photoshelter will take care of the first 95% for me and let me focus on that last 5% of the design that I need to deal with.

Make sense?

(P.S. — another factor in all of this is the IndieWeb movement, which I think is a great idea. I should probably write a post on why I think hosting the portfolio site on Photoshelter is (mostly) compatible with the ideals of the Indieweb)

 

Posted in Redesign 2015: Upgrading chuqui.com in public

Working Notes: Lightroom web galleries (my eyes. they burn)

Okay, spent a few hours looking into lightroom web galleries to solve the “move stuff off Flickr” task.

As Steve Martin once said, “Comedy is not pretty”. In fact, it’s pretty sad.

Web galleries as distributed by Adobe  are pretty simplistic and not very useful. They’re okay for basic usage, like posting a set of images from vacation to share with the family, but that’s about it. They also seem effectively unchanged since around LightRoom 3, so they clearly aren’t an Adobe enhancement priority.

I went looking for third party alternatives. I found some, but only a couple that seemed to meet my needs. You certainly can do complex and interesting things using third party plug-ins, if you’re willing to work on it (and swear some along the way) — look at what Terry White‘s done, for instance, as an example of doing it well using web gallery tools and plugins.

I finally settled on 2-3 options and started pulling them down and experimenting with them, and while I think the people who wrote did the best they could with the capabilities that Adobe gave them, it quickly ended up looking a lot like one big steaming pile of complicated hack, both in the tools and in the building of a themed site setup. I could do it that way, but I felt I’d be constantly fighting chaos and the whole thing seemed overly complicated and fragile. Not my idea of a setup I’d want to run in production. One of the tools had installation instructions so muddled I never did figure out where the various pieces had to go — some of which is because the bowels of Lightroom where this stuff has to go is pretty ugly, but mostly, they were just really poorly written, so I abandoned out halfway in. I was able to generate some tests that showed me I’d quickly come to hate both the interface and the performance of the setup and that it would never live to production.

So, web galleries generated directly out of Adobe Lightroom. Nice idea, but not going to work. 95% of is because Adobe’s implementation is simplistic and sludgy, and while the third parties can build plug-ins and templates to supplement (and sometimes replace) Adobe’s capabilities the foundations Adobe gave them simply aren’t good enough to use — which explains why when you look into third party tools via search engines you find a very few actually building them and many haven’t seen much activity in a few years, indicating a lack of active development and interest by the authors. My belief: you don’t want to depend on tools the authors aren’t enthusiastically pushing forward without a good reason. My solution: off to plan B.

(By the way, with so many online sites like Flickr and 500px and Shutterfly and half a dozen others that do basic online web galleries already, I can’t blame Adobe for not seeing this module as a priority for resources and enhancement. I probably wouldn’t put the effort into it, either, not with the existence of the Publish module and an easy way to get images online that way…)

So, plan B: set up a gallery wordpress site on galleries.chuqui.com; load a wordpress template into it, and add in a gallery plug-in. The obvious solution there is the Photocrati theme (which I’m using on my general site, although I haven’t upgraded that site to the new release that does responsive display because I felt it was too risky given I’d planned on a full redesign) and their gallery plug-in, NextGen. I’ve talked to the Photocrati folks, I know the quality of their code; the new version of NextGen was a massive rewrite and had stability problems when it first came out, but it’s stable now and would do what I want.

But I found a different gallery system called EnviraGallery, and I really like it on initial investigations. The interface seems cleaner and more intuitive, and I like a lot of its functionality. It seems like it’s easier to use and overall it looks good. The big problem? it’d cost me $100 for a license and one year of support and upgrades, and then I’d have to relicense for upgrades after that. So figure $100 to start (for the Gold level license to get the features I want) and then probably a relicense every 18 months or so when I want to get access to updates again.

NextGen Plus (full capabilities minute e-commerce) is $49, as I write this on sale for $29. Photocrati (which I’d need with either theme, although if I went with Envira I might not use Photocrati but some other theme) is $89 (and currently on sale for $49 — it and NextGen also use the “permanent license with upgrades/support for a year” pricing, although I haven’t actually needed to pay for access to upgrades to Photocrati for a couple of years).

As much as it looks like Envira may well be a better tool than NextGen, I can’t begin to convince myself it’s worth twice the cost of NextGen — and with NextGen and Photocrati on sale right now, costing this out it becomes a no-brainer.

So I think what I’ll end up doing is hosting all of this on my Dreamhost server, use WordPress, Photocrati, and NextGen as the underlying infrastructure, and plan to upload all of the images to NextGen for organization and publishing of galleries, and Photocrati to chrome the pages and galleries.

And, in the magic of continuing to work on this while postings are queued up for publication, here it is! welcome to galleries.chuqui.com. At the moment I write this (on 1/3) it’s purely generic but the theme and gallery plug-in is involved. Still some plug-in installs to make, but it’s ready to start loading content and building the design. Total time spent to this point: about 3 hours of installation and build-out. Total cost to date: $70. Monthly costs above what I’m currently spending: $0.

And… there is a publish module interface to upload photos to NextGen, which solves that problem for me, assuming it works rationally. (update: because of security restrictions on my host, this one’s a no-go. So I have to upload images old-school…)

So, I think that solves this for me. It’s not 100% of what I want from what I can see (I’d love to have a publish module that handles a nested tree of collections and builds out the galleries for me on the fly on the site), but it gets it close enough that I’m not going to complain about the final missing bits. All of the bits involved are fully responsive, so I don’t have to worry about them working on tablets or phones, as long as I’m careful about the design.

This does open up a new task, which is that I have to start worrying about what the site designs are going to look like and what common elements will have to exist across them (iconography, menu naming and placement, etc). I expect to start I’ll put up a generic or simple (swap in my logo…) design and defer that until I finish up the design on the Photoshelter site, and then use what I build there to inspire an improved look to this galleries site.

Why not just put all my images on Photoshelter?

Well, that’s a bit of a discussion…

 

Posted in Redesign 2015: Upgrading chuqui.com in public