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13 features of any great photography portfolio website
If you want to showcase your photography work online, market your photography business and attract new clients, you’ll need to build a killer portfolio website.
The best photography websites are more than online portfolios; they showcase a photographer’s best work, demonstrate their talent and set them apart from their competition. If your website is going to help you achieve your photography goals and win you business, it needs to go above and beyond the basic format of an online portfolio. It should reflect your style, professionalism and reputation.
In short, it should encourage potential customers why they should work with you. This is what separates the exceptional portfolio websites from the average ones.
These are the 13 features exceptional photography websites all have in common:
1. Good domain name
A simple, sensible web address is essential. For an independent freelance photographer, an uncomplicated domain name following the firstnamelastname or firstnamelastnamephoto formula works best, as your web address will become the basis of your brand.
URLs also affect your Google search ranking, so creating slugs like '/real-estate-photography' for your website pages can work as an advantage, as can putting relevant keywords in the URLs of your blog posts.
2. Simple design
Your photography portfolio website design should mirror your photography style, whether that’s clean, striking, elegant or professional. Make it easy to follow and give it flow, as well as optimising it for both mobile and web browsers due to the large volume of mobile searches.
A minimalist, uncluttered feel will help your website achieve its aim: show your work in its best light, and impress your visitors. At the same time, a simple but creative layout can encapsulate your personal style and flair.
The following designs prove it’s possible to channel minimalism while still putting your own unique spin on it:
3. Informative header and subheader
Adhering to website structure conventions like headers, navigation menus and footers may not sound like the most creative way to present your photography work, but this is what will probably be most intuitive for your potential clients.
With this in mind, put your full name and specialism on your homepage or header so it’s the first thing your visitors see, alongside your photography of course.
Something like ‘full name - photography’ or ‘full name - photographer’ works well:
4. Logical navigation
On visiting your site, your potential customer should be able to find what they are looking for within a couple of clicks or less. Make your navigation any more long-winded than this, and you risk high bounce rates due to poor user experience.
Place a clear set of menu tabs down the left-hand side or along the top of your website layout. If you have a diverse set of specialisms, divide your portfolio into categories such as 'Property’, ‘Architecture’ and ‘Portraits’. Also link to your other pages like ‘Portfolio’, ’About’ and ‘Contact’ within your website’s navigation menu.
Here are some examples of well thought out navigation:
5. About page
Write a bio for your ‘About’ page to sell yourself, build trust and show your personality. Include details of who you are, where you’re from, your professional background and your approach to photography.
Look to the following example for inspiration, and then craft your own story:
6. Carefully curated portfolio
When it comes to choosing photos you display on your website, listen to your instincts and prioritise your visitors’ user experience. Adopt a ‘quality over quantity’ approach. To present your work, you may opt to incorporate a slideshow, scrollbar or clickable arrows as a means for people to navigate and explore your work.
Decide what will work best for your portfolio and target clients. Hard-hitting journalistic photography lends itself to showing one image at any given time due to the impact of such work. Portraiture shots may work best in collage, to demonstrate the range of your work.
For property photography, a tiled layout is a good option, giving your visitors an overview of your work but allowing them to click each image for a closer look:
7. Regularly updated blog
Blogs are beneficial for SEO as Google likes fresh content and you can use it to optimise for relevant keywords, so that your website climbs higher up the search engine results.
They are also a great way to share your latest photography work, tips and experiences with your visitors and community. Sharing valuable content will make you look like a true professional and engage your target market in terms of potential clients and collaborators.
8. Visible calls-to-action
Calls-to-action, like ‘view gallery’, ‘see more’, ‘contact me’ or ‘work with me’ give your website visitors the option to navigate to desired content or get in touch with you easily. They should be used to help people browse your site and find the information they need as efficiently as possible.
9. Easy to find contact information
Make it as easy as possible for your website visitors to get in touch with you should they wish to. Place contact details like your phone number and email address in a highly visible or easy to find spot on your website, whether that’s in your header or footer or behind the ‘Contact’ tab of your navigation menu.
Because photography is often a location-based business, your location, as in the city or region you cover, should be mentioned across your website, in your header, title, ‘About’ page and in your meta data, so that searchers looking for terms such as ‘property photographer London’ stand more chance of landing on your site.
10. Specialist services
Illustrate your specialist areas and your diversity on your services page. If you provide more than one type of photography, such as commercial, property or portraits, or a variety of services like photo editing and virtual tours, let your prospects know.
11. Customer testimonials
As with any business, your potential clients need to see reasons to work with you. Your portfolio and body of work should play the role of demonstrating your technical ability and results, but positive customer testimonials from previous clients will give your visitors an impression of what working with you entails.
Complementary reviews will aid their decision-making process and give you an advantage over your competition.
12. Links to social channels
Link to your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages if you have them. Directing your website visitors to your social pages builds credibility, demonstrates your passion and conscientiousness (if you post regularly) and encourages them to follow you there.
By running and updating a social media presence across one of all of your channels, you get the chance to grow a community of followers and fans, and update them regularly with your new shots.
The final feature of a successful photography website is an ‘under the bonnet’ one. You can't improve what you can't measure, so analysing the traffic, bounce rates and clicks on your website is essential in fine-tuning your website.
You can learn from your data, and adapt your layout, copy and calls-to-action accordingly. Additionally, use what you know to make your portfolio more appealing, make your blog more informative and your overall website more persuasive. Make your website a key tool in driving business and sales.
Remember: Photography, like any art form, is about individuality and personal style. So while this list can be seen as useful and even essential considerations for your photography website, only you can decide how to create your website. Build according to your own needs and those of your prospective customers.