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Thread: Original website or start from template?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Marietta, GA

    Original website or start from template?

    How do most of you make your websites? I have seen some really nice ones. Do you hire a designer and make a custom website? Or do you start with a template and go from there?

    I've been meaning to getting around to making a site for years now. It's about time I get to it.

  2. #2
    Darren H's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    The Lone Star State

    Re: Original website or start from template?

    I'd look at a free or low cost option as the best route for most people as a way to display work and have a web presence.

    Something as simple as a Flickr account, Picasa Web album, Blogger etc are free and let people see your work.

    You can even buy a domain and have it hosted on blogger for free. Check out the Strobist site for example of a guy really running a business for about free.

    If you want to have the ability to sell the occasional print automated, look at something like Zenfolio or Smugmug. Templates are easy and probably good enough for 98% of us.

    If you have an established business, you have a client base, and if you need the top professionalsim to maintain that business, then maybe go with a pro.

    FWIW, you can see my Smugmug site and Blogger site linked below.

    Hope that helps.
    My Arca-Swiss Camera Blog- The Large Format Camera Blog

    My website-WildernessPhotographer

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Saratoga Springs, NY, USA

    Re: Original website or start from template?

    I've been happy with Zenfolio, and it's a modest cost for what it offers.

    Here's my site as an example.
    David Aimone Photography
    Critiques always welcome...

  4. #4
    Big Negs Rock!
    Join Date
    Mar 2000

    Re: Original website or start from template?

    iWeb is simple and can be elegant. You can look at my website and make up your own mind as to what it is. ;-)
    Mark Woods

    Large Format B&W
    Cinematography Mentor at the American Film Institute
    Past President of the Pasadena Society of Artists
    Director of Photography
    Pasadena, CA

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Mar 2005

    Re: Original website or start from template?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Woods View Post
    iWeb is simple and can be elegant. You can look at my website and make up your own mind as to what it is. ;-)
    My web sites (such as they are) were also built with Apple's iWeb software. iWeb is theme and template based but it's inexpensive and easy to use.
    Never is always wrong; always is never right.

  6. #6
    Virtually Grey Steve Gledhill's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Evesham, UK.

    Re: Original website or start from template?

    I built my first website using a template based packaged product - Net Objects Fusion. Not too difficult but the real question to consider is ease of maintenance and ease of image management. NOF got too clumsy and I didn't get into it enough - perhaps that was my problem. But the time came a year ago to start afresh. I reviewed a few products and services and plumped for Photium. It took me a few hours to play (free tryout) to see how it worked and select a look and feel that I liked. Then after the annual payment - reasonable in my eyes - it took me a day to build the whole site, upload the images, etc. It's a doddle to maintain. So, I suggest you at least take a look at Photium. They are very responsive to questions and receptive to suggestions. It's linked at the bottom of my home page.
    [FYI - I'm not in their pay though they do feature my website as an example.]

  7. #7
    unexposed darr's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005

    Re: Original website or start from template?

    I used ImageFolio for a few years and customized it. It is not cheap and customizing is a hassle as you have to update the perl code for about every page in their system for the commercial version. I have become dissatisfied with it's support which is basically "vacant." My current portfolio site ( is still running it, but I have not updated anything in over a year. I personally would not recommend it for the price.

    I signed onto PhotoShelter a few months back to try their service without committing to a full changeover, but I was looking to update my site for commercial print offerings and back up storage. I decided that I will be making the switch to PhotoShelter for these reasons:

    1. I shoot more commercial stuff now and PhotoShelter's fulfillment to labs is just what I need for a lot of my work.
    2. Included in their price is fotoQuote which I ran as a standalone program and paid for it. Now I do not have to deal with buying upgrades from the publisher.
    3. I was using PhotoShelter for back up storage of digital files any how and need to keep this service going.
    4. Their SEO service is outstanding and is included in their price.

    I am plugging PhotoShelter because I want to see them survive.

    If your needs are small, they have a service to fit it. Their templates are pretty and if you find you need more services, it is available. You can try them for free.

    Lunarpages is an excellent hosting service that I have been using for a few years.

    Good luck on your quest as there is a lot of services, hosting companies and software developers to pick from!


    "Creativity takes courage." ~ Henri Matisse
    Darlene Almeda,

    LF Print Exchange Gallery

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jul 2006

    Re: Original website or start from template?

    I looked at the code on websites I liked, then re-wrote or adapted the code to suit

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jun 2002

    Re: Original website or start from template?

    Do you even need a stand alone website anymore when you can have Flickr, Facebook, Tumblr to build a little network of social media?

    Seriously. Just have your $9/year domain name point to your free Tumblr blog built w a custom template. Post your new stuff there and have it link to your other pages.

    Keep your portfolio on $24.95 Pro Flickr account, it has the best image and gallery management tools, you couldn't duplicate its capabilities with $100K custom site. Photographers actually manage to update their Flickr pages, unlike their actual websites.

    Use a free Facebook Business Page for your "About Us" and for a secondary portfolio. It's the best way to interact w clients and make sales, if that is what you're about.

    Sell the best prints on Etsy or one of the other art sales sites, using PayPal for the transaction and give them a few %.

    Everything cross links and is searchable and tagged and if you do it right, you can upload to Flickr and update everything at once automagically.

    So... why do you need a dedicated site at all? Until you go pro and pay hundreds annually to use LiveBooks or DripBooks or PhotoShelter, what is the point?

    Besides, I got burnt w PhotoShelter's stock photo business and while I hate to see a business fail, I am not giving them any more money or investing time into something that might go belly up next month or next year. Stick to the low cost and free solutions.

    I have a couple of great websites that I am satisfied with, they are old yet still decent. But it isn't the way I'd approach the web nowadays if I were starting from scratch.

    Look at this ad agency, it's the only decent ad agency website in the world:

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Gig Harbor, WA

    Re: Original website or start from template?

    What do you want to present on the Website? That determines your choices along with the time and money you want to spend, not just initially but on-going, and if you want your own domain name or willing to accept using a host with just your name. It's easy to set up a one-off Website, but then discover the additions and updates are too much time.

    But that said, you should brainstorm all the stuff you want to present now and later, listing all the topics (blog, photos, information, etc.) and then organizing it into a structure (the old fashioned storyboard idea). Then you can see what the on-line template hosts offer and how much you have to learn to build the initial Website and to update and add to it.

    Personally I wanted the freedom to do my own, but then I started Website design and work in 1994 when all we had was text editors. I never learned the wysiwyg editors or templates and continue to write code on all my Webpages. I learned to keep the longterm design in mind to minimize the work for version changes, learned to develop my own templates to minimize additions and learned css, and learned other code (although badly) to add expand the presentations.

    I spend 2-3 days a week working on the Website because I'm working on a photo guide and history projects, and I use some other hosting sites for some things, such as for photo galleries, blogspot for blogs and mobile me for large files. They're easier to use and have higher file storage limits, something my old host didn't have until last year.

    Good luck with your Website.

    Scott M. Knowles, MS-Geography

    "All things merge into one, and a river flows through it."
    - Norman MacLean

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