Photojournalist Lynn Johnson’s Website Redesign
The standard for most photographers in the 1990s and early-to-mid-2000s was to build a website using Flash. I remember LiveBooks being super popular along with BigFolio and a few others. Most photography website companies back then offered Flash-based templates. Oh, how presentation and marketing has changed!
Lynn’s former website served her well and she felt it was time to finally update. So when she engaged me to redesign her website I was excited and of course extremely flattered.
Every website I work on starts with research. I have loads of questions so we discussed a lot of options: budget, structure, content, marketing and maintenance; all of which overlap and how I determine the best solution. Time is precious and she wasn't keen on spending a lot of it updating software, plugins, backing up her site, security, etc. Naturally she wanted to focus on people and stories — her passion.
Note: Of course there are ways to automate backup, security, etc. but those require additional and typically on-going costs.
Squarespace was the best option and after several rounds and tests of the various templates they offer, we moved forward with the Fulton template. CSS was used to tweak the template.
We ran into a few frustrations or “not crazy about” aspects of working with a template but both of us did our best to come to terms with those limitations. Designing websites can be a tremendous challenge because it is often about working with constraints. There is always the dream scenario but in most cases, that is not an option. Still, the best part of the job is figuring out creative ways to get around constraints.
The one section where I had to compromise was the “Library”. It contains an archive of selected stories that she has published over the years. It is quite a body of work and I wanted to give it the real estate it deserved.
I started in one direction but realized I was making it too complicated for her to do on her own. Working around the built-in functions to present the content differently would require too many steps. So, the best option was to stick with a baked-in format. It’s a bummer that we’ve already had some feedback that the Library section is confusing so it’s my hope to revisit after we do some training, review the analytics and do some training. Perhaps it won’t be too complicated (crossing fingers).
Working with Lynn was incredibly satisfying and flat-out fun. She placed a great deal of trust in me and that felt great. It was a true collaboration; my favorite type of relationship.