One of my goals along this photography venture was to bring my printed outputs to more people. To achieve this goal, there were many objectives to complete along the way, but also objectives that required to be completed simultaneously.
One of the essential steps was to update the design of the website to accommodate an online store but also redesign the homepage to encourage site visitors to navigate the website and to visit the store. At this point, I began drafting layout ideas, reconsidering the additional menus and elements that would be required.
At the same time, I needed to research and select a print shop that would be able to fulfil potential customer orders. It was essential to select a print shop that would be able to produce high quality results to varying specifications. Furthermore, it was especially important that the selected print shop had the level of after sales support that I would need should there be any issues with a customer’s order.
After some time, I decided to select dStudio. Their customer service was quickest to respond to my queries and they seemed keen to secure my business. I felt the prices, while not the cheapest, were certainly competitive. The services they offered were the most complete to my needs. The only thing missing from being a perfect selection, was the lack of printing and supply of photobooks.
With a print shop selected, I ordered proofs of a select number of photographs to confirm the print quality but to also evaluate several various photographic paper samples. This would allow me to determine how accurate the print would be reproduced on the select number of different papers and I could determine if any of the photos would require further adjustments.
When the proofs arrived for evaluation, I was extremely impressed with the reproduction of the print. All samples matched very closely to the image I was viewing on my BenQ SW271 colour calibrated monitor. Now that I had a trusted source for prints, I decided to order the dStudio sample pack for reference. This would allow me to evaluate a wider range of photographic papers with stock images, at a much cheaper price than ordering more proofs utilising those papers.
Through this time, I had finalised my concept for the website design. I had the idea to make the homepage more visually appealing and to utilise the space more efficiently.
In version 2.0, I had a repeater element on the homepage to link to the portfolio gallery. This element was visually what I wanted, but originally, I wanted to have the repeater to stretch the full width of the homepage. It was possible to achieve this with a repeater, but the major issue was how it would scale on various screen resolutions.
To combat this in version 3.0, I utilised a gallery element instead. I was not aware that a gallery could be designed in a way that could mimic what I was trying to achieve with the repeater. The gallery element was the solution in that it can scale the way I intended no matter the screen resolution of the user. We can see this issue illustrated in the comparison above.
Once the homepage was tidied up, my focus shifted to building the online store front. The Wix platform makes this step easy to follow and presents my offerings very well. After the layout and flow of the store had been finalised, I looked at online payment platforms that were cost-effective for me in terms of fees but that were also streamlined and secure for the customer.
The integration of Stripe with the Wix platform was seamless and came with a ready-made design. This was an easy gateway to utilise to support a wide variety of payment methods. PayPal is also a trusted and familiar face when it come to online payments. Therefore, it was key to also support this method and to provide an alternative option for prospective customers.
One of the other main elements of the site redesign was unifying the fonts across all pages throughout the website. I also incorporated page headers on select pages to better present details to visitors. Improving my presentation was essential to make the website look cleaner and more presentable, in a similar way you would want a brick-and-mortar store to be presentable to attract your business.
With all major design elements finalised, it was just a case of tidying things up and fixing typos. Fixing bugs and testing. One interesting bug that developed was the blog page remained blank for the people testing the page. However, in my editor and viewer, it was working. For some reason, simply switching to a different blog layout fixed the issue. Not ideal as I liked the previous presentation, but it was an acceptable compromise to have a functioning blog page.
After all the kinks had been worked out, it was clear to see the improvements to the website design. The improvement in site performance and load times were also improved, as we can see in the graph below across all releases of the website.
Whew, that was a lot to get through, but it is evident to see the differences when comparing the previous design to all the changes for the new release. I truly hope you enjoy the latest Gerald Perey Photography website experience. My goal is to continue to refine the website over time to improve the way you enjoy my content and to streamline navigation when browsing. I am excited to bring you the next version of improvements and to expand the store offerings.
Please do contact me if you have any feedback as I continue to evolve this project to give you the best possible experience to enjoy my photography work. The next update in the pipeline is a hands-on product overview of a print-only order and a finished framed print to showcase what you can expect to receive when you place an order. I am excited to tour you around this experience - stay tuned!