When it comes to designing web pages, simpler is usually better, especially for online photo galleries. Displaying fewer images per page at larger sizes not only looks better at a glance, but makes it easier for your visitors to appreciate your photography. Don’t try to show everything at once; instead, pair or group similar or related images together to create a stronger sense of theme.
It’s pretty much expected these days that if you’re a photographer, you’ll have some kind of web gallery. The good news is that you don’t have to know very much about how the web works to create a home on the web for your photos.
If you’re going to build your own site (rather than using an online service that does everything for you), the first thing you’ll need is a web domain and hosting plan.
If you’re an Apple MobileMe subscriber, website hosting is included in the deal. If this doesn’t apply to you, or if you’d prefer a custom domain, like “www.wesphotos.com,” you’ll need to set up a domain and hosting plan. We won’t go into the details of that process here, but it’s relatively painless. Yahoo!, 1and1.com and many others offer inexpensive domain registration and hosting plans for photographers. You’ll want to get this step done first, so that your hosting can be all set up and ready to go.
You basically have three choices when it comes to building a web gallery. You can build it yourself. You can use features in software like Photoshop and Aperture to do most of the building for you. Or, you can use an online service to handle the whole thing.
We’re going to look primarily at the first two options in this article, chiefly because the online services make it so easy, so there’s not a lot to explain.
So how do you choose which is right for you? Well, if you’re like me, you’re a control freak and you’d rather face a learning curve than suffer at the hands of a template. For us, there’s Dreamweaver and other web-authoring tools to build a site from scratch. Yes, this route takes some time, trial and error, but you’ll ultimately have total control over every aspect of your website’s design and functionality. With this approach, the only limit is the time you’re willing to spend learning.
Using Photoshop, Aperture or another image-processing application that includes a web gallery-creation function is a middle ground between building your own site and using an online service. You’ll still need to set up your own domain and hosting, and learn how to upload files to your site, but you won’t have to worry about writing HTML code, because your software will do this part for you.
If you don’t mind a template and really aren’t that interested in learning to build your own site, then check out some of our recommendations for online services later in this article. Also, these end-to-end solutions are probably the best route for you if you want to sell images from your site, as e-commerce gets a little more complicated than what we’ll tackle here.