A week of work and the new website was live. Instead of writing a panegyric, I would rather talk about the techniques I used, what‘s still the same (tech-wise) and what has been changed. This blog is for those, who plan to create or revamp their (photography) website as well.
When I do a new website my top priorities are.
- High process integration to ensure efficient and seamless work processes.
Examples: direct FTP upload, IPTC readout, automatic SEO features
- Super website performance for good user experience
- Flexible and responsive design to facilitate attractive content
- Extendibility to add features where I want them (I’m not good at making compromises)
- Generating revenue – of course, I need to be able to pay the bills too
The Basis: Content Management System (CMS)
Right as I decided to revamp my website, I saw one of the worlds best-known photographers using photoshelter.com as her CMS. The idea to combine the content management functionalities with digital asset management (DAM) seemed a very attractive idea. And it really is!
Photoshelter, as well as Pixpa or SmugMug provide cloud-based storage to manage large amounts of photographic data. They all offer slightly different features to store, manage and publicise your work results. Some do even support RAW files! They offer proofing, easy customer delivery, process integration to Adobe Lightroom and sometimes even rights management including a nice looking SEO optimised website.
Looks good, sounds good. So I started writing down my requirements and checked them against my current tool architecture for CMS + DAM (WordPress + Picdrop) as well as these promising providers. SmugMug and Photoshelter do not provide blog functionality. However, what hit me the most was, that neither Pixpa, SmugMug nor Photoshelter provides a native ability for multi-language pages.. As I plan to offer my content in two languages (English and German) a good and professional way to do this was key.
Despite some very nice feature offerings like:
- CDN setup (Pixpa)
- Auto-IPTC-Readout (Pixpa and Photoshelter)
- Custom coupon codes (Photoshelter and SmugMug)
In the end, I had to stay with the initial setup. The endless possibilities and design templates have shown, the WordPress + Picdrop setup outperforms other platforms every time. One thing to mention: Picdrop does provide a very nice usability and user interface, the feature set, however, is more „sufficient“ than „exciting“. Maybe they will add in some more features over time or change to the DAM at some point.
Features on my Picdrop wishlist:
- Rights management (coupled with auto-resize to match the respective usage)
- Multi-brand support (branding based on URL)
- E-Commerce features (only buying of usage rights) incl. custom coupons
Caching & Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Here I had two no-brainers. I know I’m already using the best possible solutions. And after a short try of current alternatives, I quickly decided to stay where I was:
Caching: Borlabs Cache (my opinion: the best caching plugin on the planet)
SEO: YoastSEO (very well designed and easy tool to optimise every post and page)
As I began to set up my first websites with multi-language capacity, I was very intensively evaluating the right solution. At this time Polylang has made the race because of its clear approach of having separate element versions for every language. I like this a lot. I’ve been using this plugin for quite some time now, across several websites.
For the new andyreutimann.com, however, I have now started using WPML. As I am doing this in a second phase of the revamp, at this stage the website is English-only. I’ll share my experiences at a later stage and plan to do a separate blog for that specifically.
A new website doesn’t present an opportunity to change the marketing automation solution. So I stay with AutopilotHQ even though there are hundreds of solutions out there. What I like the most about this, is that it is the by far the best usability at this price level. Constant enhancements and very friendly chat support are a bonus.
Even I spent a lot of time to evaluate even better solutions, most have stayed the same. This shows me, that my setup still is a very good and productive one. Even compared with very innovative, promising and developing platform alternatives. Some well-thought changes, however, have become a performance and business booster for me as well.