Web design for photographers; a critique for Anthony Phung aka @APhungFoto

Chris Lane / Business, Critique, Design, photography / / 1 Comment / Like this

Anthony used my critique request form to ask for a critique not exactly of his work but of the way he shows his work, namely, his APhungFoto website.

Home page

The first thing I notice is the nice clean design. I like how big the images are, though one problem with this is that part of the photo is obscured “below the fold.” What this means is that I need to scroll down to see the entire photo. One way this could be improved is to decrease the size of the header. I like the header, especially if it is actually a personalized signature. I am guessing it is not, though? Regardless, it looks personal. Though “Foto” in papyrus does look tacked on.

The thumbnails of the rest of the photos in each series is below the large image. This works well, though, once again, the viewer has to scroll down to see them. One additional problem is there is no space below them, so they get a little bit lost at the bottom of the screen. I would just add some padding to the bottom, or an additional footer, that just gives a little breathing room below.

I like the information button, though I wish it showed more than just the title. The next/previous arrows I didn’t notice at first (and are not even visible in the small screen capture above) so I relied on clicking on the thumbnails for navigation. I do like the multiple options for navigation that the arrows bring, I just wish they stood out just a little bit more.

The navigation at the top I think is done exceptionally well. The contact button is easily visible and all the links are easy to click on.

The most important aspect is Speed

The second thing, and a major point, I notice is how incredibly slow the images load. At first I was wondering if I didn’t click properly, so I clicked again. And it still didn’t load. I did not notice a loading wheel or bar, so then I thought maybe the images were broken. At this point, if I were a client, I would have already closed the website. This is especially the case for an art buyer that has little to no time.

The #1 suggestion I will make in this critique is to compress the images. Make sure they aren’t full size photos being displayed at a smaller size. If this is the case, the browser still has to load the entire full resolution file, regardless of display resolution. So, resize the images to their display size first. Then, in Photoshop, use the Save for Web command and save as a compressed JPG. I wouldn’t go any smaller than 70 in the Quality entry. I usually put between 80-90 in there, but my main goal is looking at the end file size. Depending on the size of the photo, I try keep it as close to 100K as possible, though upwards of 500K is usually acceptable.

Save for web and devices dialogue box

Make no mistakes

Since Anthony wanted me to just focus on the website itself, and not particularly the images, I will leave the home page and the photo categories to move on to the Biography section. In regards to what I said about the homepage having things below the fold, the bio (when in full screen) is perfect. Though, to be honest, I rarely look at many webpages in full screen. I guess I don’t have any actual analytics on how many people do have their browser full screen or not, so it would be interesting to hear who does what in the comments below.

Biography page

As for the copy on this page, it frankly needs some work. There are some grammatical errors right there in the first sentence with taken instead of taking. But truthfully, the entire first paragraph is rather pointless. I would scrap it altogether, or at least move it as the second or third paragraph instead.

The second paragraph reads better as a first paragraph as it actually says something about who you are, which is, in my opinion, the entire point of the biography. You write that you are the main photographer for APhungFoto. Is there another photographer? If there is, that’s fine, but if there isn’t, just say so. There is no shame in being a one man operation. That’s what I am after all! Your next sentence has another grammatical error with provides, instead of provide.

Though, reading this further, I realize this isn’t a bio at all, but a business services page. In that case, you should either rename the page to such, or write something else that actually is a bio. Write a little about yourself and how long you have been a photographer, what your background is, what education you have, whatever you feel like. I recommend keeping it short, but if you want to have a short and a long version that is fine. This is actually something I have been meaning to rework on my own site, as my bio is quite long. But you should also try to keep it at least somewhat fun and entertaining. No one wants to read a dry biography on someone they really don’t care a whole lot about. I won’t read a dry biography even if it is written about one of my heroes. So, if you do keep it as a bio, try keep it light and humorous. Most importantly, write it as who you are.

As for the photo, it isn’t my favorite of the photos you have of yourself, but it is entirely how you want to portray yourself. With this photo I see you as rather artistic, quiet, and thoughtful. These are perfectly acceptable traits for a photographer.

I like that you have a mini contact point here on this page (in addition to the actual contact page) as the more and easier opportunities a person has to contact you, the more likely they actually will. I love how you link Google maps in there, though I wish it was more specific than just Montreal as a whole. My guess is that most people that visit your site to hire you will come from Montreal, since that is where you service. If people outside of Montreal are looking at you, it is still highly likely they know where Montreal is. Instead, if you are willing, link to where your studio is located. Better yet, if you have a Google listing for your business (and if you don’t have one, why not?) link to that. It will not only show the map, but show your logo, some photo examples, your hours, your services, and probably a street view photo of your studio entrance. As an example, here is my google listing, which I notice really needs some updating.

The mailto: put here is a great addition.

How do I contact you?

contact page

I think your contact page really shines. As with the bio, I can still quickly get to the photos by clicking on any of the categories. But what is really great on this page is the multiple avenues of contact. I like that I can choose to email you, tweet at you, find you on facebook or flickr, or just simply use your contact form built in right there. Perfect. The addition of writing your website in this list is kind of pointless, however. I would just scratch that out.

Another addition here would be the Google places listing I mentioned earlier. And I wonder why you don’t have a customized name for the flickr entry? Even if your link address isn’t customized, you should at least put your flickr name as the link, instead of the random characters.

Ending this rather long critique

I guess it is expected to be long when I am critiquing an entire website. And honestly, Anthony’s website is rather simple as far as pages and whatnot. I like that, though. This is definitely where things can be simple. Show the work, give a little bit of background, and make it easy to contact. Now just make the site faster and you’ll be set.

If you have any further insight into Anthony’s website, or critique of my critique, please post it in the comments section below. If you would like a critique of your work, do so by hitting my critique submission page. And if you ever need a web designer for a project, send me a message through my contact form here.

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