A great photography blog is more than the photos you put on it. There are many web design elements you need to think about if you want to present your photography in the best possible light. If you’re designing your own theme or template for your blog, there are many important considerations you need to look at. Here are some tips on how to design a great photography theme.
Use WordPress for a Simple, Flexible and Reliable Platform
Start with a reliable content management system. Photography sites are not complex, so WordPress is almost always the best option. There are many WordPress hosting providers that will help you get set up if you don’t have the technical know-how. These WordPress hosting providers often have one click installs and many tutorials if you want to get your hands dirty and learn how to use it yourself.
Layouts Make Your Photos Pop
The worst way to present your photos is to lay them out right next to each other without a clear layout. If you want your photos to pop, you want to use interesting layouts to present them in unique ways. A great layout not only makes your photo collection visually pleasing, it also entices your web visitors to want to browse through the pictures. At the end of the day, the goal is to get your visitors to discover your work.
Some ideas for layouts include card based designs, multi slideshow galleries, multi-column setups just to start off. One interesting idea that some visually based blogs are adopting is to use multiple layouts throughout the blog. For example, the layout may start out with a three-column setup, move into a slideshow gallery, transition into a card-based layout, and go back to the three-column setup. What this does is to present your photos in different ways to engage visitors and keep them browsing.
Create a Great Slideshow Gallery User Interface
If you’re creating a photography theme, you will be creating some kind of slideshow gallery function at some point. One of the most annoying design flaws that themes seem to have is a bad user interface for these slideshow galleries. They have small scroll buttons, transition slowly to the next photo, and don’t allow users to click to the photo they want. These features hurt the user experience.
Here are some ideas to fix these common flaws. Use big buttons so that users don’t have to struggle to click to scroll. Have scrollable mini preview windows underneath the highlighted photo so that users can view the photo they want. Make all the photos load once the user opens the gallery so that it transitions to other photos quickly. Allow users to scroll by pressing a key on their keyboard.
Use a Grid Based Approach
Rather than building a free form layout, you should use a grid-based approach. There are several reasons why you should go with this approach. First, it helps establish a solid foundation that sets up positioning and balance in a layout. This helps ensure that the content on the website is presented in an intuitive way. Second, its makes the actually design process easier. It takes time to learn how to use grids but once you do, you’ll find yourself designing even faster than before and with more ease.
Finally, it helps with readability and engagement. It aligns typography in a cleaner way and fits your content to make it more digestible to your users. It also leads to more space which distinguishes many elements and content sections on your website. As a result, it draws the user’s eye to where they need to be drawn.
Make the Theme Responsive and the Site Mobile Friendly
As always, you want the theme to be responsive so that your website is properly displayed in mobile devices. 15 percent or more of your visitors will be browsing from a mobile device. By not using a responsive design, you’ll be alienating a large part of your audience. Aside from refitting your site, you’ll most likely have to work on a navigation menu that’s ideal for mobile devices as well.
And since your blog will be photography based, you have to put in a lot of work into making it mobile friendly. You’ll have to put in a lot of time into image size optimization. Computing capacity and Internet connections are worse on mobile devices. That’s why you have to figure out a way to balance image quality and size compression.
Those are some solid ideas on building a great photography theme for your blog. You want to focus on the fundamentals first so that you can take your theme to new projects and or share them with other designers. Once you get the important things down, you can start adding things like multiple layouts for the theme, graphical accents and technical features like popovers.