how I redesigned my website

Mary Dougherty

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I'm a fine art film photographer living in the mountains and traveling to tell beautiful stories

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Designing and/or redesigning your blog or website is usually the last thing on your list. It’s not because you don’t want to do it… but because it’s just that big of a project. You know, the one you write down at the beginning of the year and then spend months avoiding? It’s not easy even when you have the starting point of a template. Typically there are dead ends that can only by solved by talking to a real person.

So, since we’ve established that this process involves a real person (other than yourself, unless you are obviously a designer) the question is how soon do you want to get them involved?  If right away is your answer, a custom designed site by someone is the best way to go. It won’t have the look of a template and you won’t have the headache or loss of time that comes with building your own. Custom sites can be built in a variety of ways and reaching out to a few people to see if you would work together well is a good place to start. A few of the popular designers I know of used by some photographers include : Go Live HQ Flosites Infinet Design. Or, find a local firm to work with who you can meet with in person and build a connection with.

However, there are tons of template options from Squarespace, Showit and Prophoto which are all really user friendly and typically offer some kind of customer support. So if you are looking to spend a few hundred instead of thousand then you should start shopping around for the site you want to work with.

I have been with Prophoto for about six years now and have loved their customer support so it was easy for me to decide to continue working with them. There were definitely some disadvantages to keeping the site on wordpress and not upgrading to a fluid or responsive site… but secretly I’m waiting to see what the Grid is like since I signed as member this summer. It’s worth taking a look at.

For now, back to this redesign which involved customizing the template you see below on the left into what it is on the right. I shopped around the prophoto templates for a while before deciding that Artisan had what I needed most : a static front page and a blog layout that showed multiple posts. From there I got to work.

prophoto_customized_template

It was about a week of customizations that involved basically getting to know the prophoto controls that would adjust everything I wanted to get it to look the way it does. It’s great if you like design and are already familiar with how the structure works (plus they have a lot of step by step videos) but there were still a few things that I couldn’t solve and required answers or help from their people… and I can honestly say their people made redesigning a whole lot easier. Thanks again Dan for taking care of my domain issues + helping me solve problems like the one below!

Screenshot 2014-12-28 23.05.32

In order to tackle the layout and content of the site, I did most of the planning on paper. I usually find the less time with the computer the better, as it’s easier to think more clearly and accomplish what you actually set out to do. So, after a week of work this current site is the result. I love that I can link to past content and hopefully provide a better experience for everyone who visits. Feel free to continue to send me feedback or ask questions about my process! Most of all set aside 2-7 days and tackle your own redesign project with a clear plan and a sense of purpose.

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