For those interested in following along, I’ve created a new blog category specifically for this redesign. For those who don’t want to follow along, this will act as a metadata tag you might be able to use to know to avoid these…
My online presence is rather complex when you pull together all of the pieces (have you thought about all of your public touch points and how they work together (or don’t?)) — the main blog (hosted wordpress), SmugMug (my portfolio site), Flickr (my casual/social photography site), email lists (Mailchimp), Twitter, Google+, Linkedin. And we can’t forget Tandem-Stock, where my stock photography is sold. Integrating with that and encouraging sales has to be a part of this.
For the purposes of this redesign, Linkedin isn’t going to be part of this. I’m trying to get in the habit of using Instagram more, and it’s going to take away part of what I use flickr for. I plan on adding Photoshelter to handle all of the photography material, and deleting Flickr and SmugMug.
One unknown is that I don’t know if the pieces of Flickr that aren’t going to go to Instagram are going to end up self-hosted or as part of Photoshelter (yes, I don’t necessarily consider the social/casual photos to be part of my photography empire — probably a later blog post discussion). Right now I’m learning towards using Lightroom publishing to build out web galleries and hosting them myself. Or wire them into the general blog via a wordpress gallery like NextGEN? I dunno yet. My gut is telling me for what I want stuffing 3000+ images into wordpress and using NextGen is going to add complexity I want to avoid; publish channels out of WordPress to disk and then syncing that folder out to a web site seems the easiest to maintain if I can find a system that’s easily flexible (and protects existing links so URLs don’t break unless I delete an image).
I’m working to document how I want everything to work together when we come out the other end and where the interconnects are. But in general, right now the order of attack here seems to be:
First Phase (the photo stuff):
- Take all of the content on Smugmug and move it to Photoshelter (and fix all of the now broken image links everywhere)
- Take all of the written photo content and move it to the Photoshelter blog (and fix all of the links to them, and redirect the deleted pages)
- Set up a mail chimp for just the photo blog; also an announce-only for the photo blog.
- how do I report new postings here in the general blog in a non-annoying way? can I automate that?
- Do I do new portfolio images as announcements? Or post them as I create them and publicize them in some other way?
- Can I use a metadata tag to push a standard note about stock availability on images so I don’t have to manually remember to edit them in?
Second phase (more correctly, parallel activity to the photo stuff):
- Spin out a new wordpress blog and built it out for the For Your Consideration content. I’ve been exploring available themes already and have a few candidates for more detailed looks
- Figure out how to present the affiliate ads off of that FYC site back onto the photo and general blogs (hint: probably iframes of a specially designed page living on FYC
- Challenge: how to make this all easily configuable (via blog categories?) and/or randomized so the selections change on repeated visits and kept fresh — everything is static now, which I think reduces their effectiveness. Also: it makes sense to try to have some optimizations here to target specific types of ads to specific content types.
- Challenge: need to be built so that I can CSS style them into the look and feel on each site
- Challenge: has to continue to not be annoying. It’s about the content, not the ads. Sites that forget that lose my eyeballs, I don’t want to become something like them.
Third phase (needs to trail first phase, probably trails second phase somewhat)
- New wordpress theme/blog for the existing general site.
- Clean up/edit non-moved content to work in the new theme
- Separate twitter for the photo site? (probably)
- How many mailing lists? How detailed do I want to split this up? Or do I? (there will always be an RSS feed and a mail list for “everything”, but segmenting for people isn’t quite clear to me yet)
Calls to Action:
I’m going to have to be careful defining my CTAs. CTA is marketing-speak for “this person came to this page, what do I want them to do now that they’re here?” (reading the content is a given, but something some sites often forget given their focus on what they want out of the reader instead of what the reader wants. Every page needs to have some CTA (or multiple CTAs) attached, things like:
Subscribe (via email, twitter, RSS). But is twitter the primary ask, or email? RSS is now more or less a legacy protocol
Can I interest you in this other content? (hey, check out the site. you’ll like it)
While you’re here, aren’t you interested in buying this neat thing I found and want to show you?
I rather like the navigation of the current site, it works, it’s pretty clear, and there aren’t many confusing pieces left. It’s going to be a challenge to help people navigate between three sites (main, photo and FYC), but right now, I have to coordinate navigation between blog, flickr, smug mug, etc. the trick will be to make navigation between sites easy and obvious, and then build out good clean navigation within each site. Don’t split them up and then try to integrate them except at very carefully specified interaction points.. it’s easy to get too complicated here.
Design and branding:
In general I like my existing design and branding (especially the logo, designed by my wife). It’ll all need tweaking but I don’t expect it to massively change.
Looking at the paths people travel on sites, if they do choose to look at a second page after reading what brought them to the site, their next step is likely one of three pages: the front page, the blog main landing page (if it’s not the front page) and the about-me page, in about equal percentages. The about-me page is usually a forgotten resource and I think I need to put a lot of work into improving mine.
right now, I’m thinking in the next design the writing page merges into the about-me (somehow), once the photo stuff moves to Photoshelter the general blog landing page moves to the front page of the site merging those two. And on the photo site, the blog landing page will be a second page as I want the photo site to be about photos first, writing second. Expect the new photo blog to be some form of full page, full-bleed format where the photography shines and the rest of it gets out of the way.
Right now this is my first set of notes, more or less trying to organize the project a bit. The two pieces that clearly need my focus first is to get the Photoshelter site up and start working on the design and the photos (the blog is a secondary need), and to start figuring out the web gallery piece — photo shelter or separate?
So, I wonder. Can I set an arbitrary deadline of February 1 to have these in place and either be ready to retire (or have retired) both Smugmug and Flickr? My guess is the first 90% of both of these tasks is fairly easy and pretty straightforward, but I’m worried about the last 10% — detail and polish and refining designs.
My design and implementation strategy isn’t like some of the more formally educated designers, I have more of a tendency to make big, global decisions early, bring things live as a prototype and then beat it with a stick until I like it, rather than doing a lot of up-front design and planning and then implement for release. I’m also a big “find stuff that’s close and integrate it together, then tweak” rather than a “build it yourself”, not only because it significantly cuts the number of hours to implement, but usually simplifies maintenance vastly so the sheer number of hours needed to get to “done” and from “done” through the enduring maintenance cycle is minimized. I will happily trade off (some) dollars to save myself hours, because free hours in my life is constantly the critical path resource.
Time to go start figuring out the web gallery options…