An Expert Look at Customization, a new Blog post from Shari Warren with creative ideas and new ways to approach design is available here.
It has now been a few months since Zenfolio has partnered with Warren Creative Design to help users with the design and customization of their Zenfolio websites. Shari Warren, who is a Zenfolio user herself as well as a professional designer and illustrator, runs Warren Creative Design.
In the past, Shari has worked with Zenfolio on a number of creative projects such as designing new theme templates, conducting personal design consultations, and contributing to our book on “Creating a Photography Website that Works for You”. Shari has agreed to answer some questions and share a few tips and tricks to making a professional looking website.
Q – Why is it important to have a unique and professional looking website?
Your website is your opportunity to showcase and brand your unique photography style and stand out from the competition. Having a professional looking website shows that you are serious about your business and can be the biggest influence in turning viewers into new customers.
Q- Why did you decide to help others with this task?
As a creative professional, I truly enjoy helping photographers make the most of their Zenfolio website design. Zenfolio has very powerful customization tools. But it does take time and patience to create and finesse a theme that is complimentary for a particular photographic style. A lot of photographers have told me that they just do not have the time to design and need to get their website up and running. Having extensive experience using the Zenfolio theme designer to create themes, and knowing the customization “nuances” the interface has to offer, I can quickly set up a photographer’s website and make immediate changes. My services give the photographer more time to focus on their business and shooting.
Q – What are some of the biggest mistakes photographers should avoid when designing their site?
The first mistake I see is photographers not taking full advantage of the slide show features. They should show their photos as large as possible and the same size and aspect ratio for a cleaner looking design and a more enjoyable viewing experience. The second mistake is choosing theme colors that either “clash” or “deaden” the colors in their specific photography. Photographers should also take advantage of the powerful Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools Zenfolio has to offer. To increase your website traffic, be strategic and descriptive using “keywords” when writing text for your welcome and about messages, as well as captions and descriptions for your photos.
Q – Who would benefit more from Individual Custom Services vs Full Website Customization?
Some photographers are very comfortable with the Zenfolio theme designer and have taken the time to set up and design their websites. Individual custom services are for those who want help in designing custom pages, a unique background or logo, or one-on-one guidance in setting up their site. Full website customization is a great option for the photographer who might be just getting started with Zenfolio and needs to get their website design looking great and functional as soon as possible.
Q – Can photographers purchase ready-to-go themes?
In my Themes Store, I offer Zenfolio themes with designs that are minimal to more decorative. Each theme can be imported and installed in your personal Zenfolio Theme Designer and used “as is” or can be further customized by changing any of the graphics, colors and fonts to suit your personal style. As I will be adding more themes in the future, I would love to hear from customers any requests for specific styles they would like to purchase.
Q – How does the process work when a photographer requests your design services?
Once I receive a request, I send an email to set up an initial phone appointment to discuss the photographer’s business goals and design needs. During our conversation, we will go through their website and I take notes for the “action items” that the photographer wants to have done. I will also offer my suggestions as well. I then follow up with an email listing all the things we had discussed and give an estimate for my time. Once agreed, I begin working directly in the photographer’s Zenfolio account to make the changes requested. It is my goal to be sure that the photographer is completely satisfied and that all their questions are answered.
Unique Designs for Unique Customers
Shari’s testimonials page is quickly filling up with great feedback from happy customers. Here’s just one of the many customer stories featured on her site:
Mike Johnson specializes in wildlife photography and travels all over the world to capture his amazing images. I created a custom “Welcome” page to show a montage of photos of him on location. I also added a link to his Trip Advisor account showing a world map that continually updates his shoot locations. Then I customized his “About” page to show some of his favorite images. To jazz up his “Contact” page, I selected one of his landscape photos from Africa, then toned it back to nicely blend with the gray background theme that was used throughout his website.
See for Yourself
If you’re just getting started with Zenfolio, or would like to freshen up the look of your site, Shari can custom tailor her services based upon your needs. For more info and details visit the Warren Creative Design website and the Themes Store.