When I went freelance again in the summer of 2008 I knew that having a strong web-based portfolio was going to be important. I had already been publishing websites for over nine years by then so, on day one, I published something that I thought looked good and which was entirely built by me using Dreamweaver. A few days later I made some substantial changes following feedback from friends, colleagues and a couple of clients. For the next six years I made major design updates at least once a year until I switched to Pixelrights in 2014. Between that point and today I had only done one major overhaul because their system offered exactly what I needed and so it feels rather sad to have had to migrate neilturnerphotographer.com to the Adobe Portfolio platform. Welcome to version 9.0 of my folio.
The move has happened because I wanted speed and features that Pixelrights don’t currently offer. I have kept the old site sitting there in the background just in case they leapfrog Adobe again allowing me to swap back. I looked at so many others before opting for the Adobe option and I feel happy that I have the best one for me at this time. It won’t suit others – especially those who have a need for online sales or storage. For me, this is just a shop window and, in that limited way, it really looks like it is going to work.
Learning yet another CMS (content management system) has been something of a chore. It has taken quite a while to get my head around how it works – and I’m someone who prides themselves on being able to adapt to new things pretty rapidly. It’s similar to so many systems that I use (WordPress, Pixelrights, Photoshelter amongst others) but different in enough important ways that I spent many hours and days fiddling with it and reading the many support articles that Adobe have posted. So it is with a mixture of relief and pride that I have sent the site live and updated as many links to it as I could find. I thought that it might be helpful to others thinking of going over to this platform to post a few of my thoughts on the plus side:
- It’s faster to load and browse than anything else that I tried
- The way that it scales for tablets and mobiles is easily as good as anything else I have seen
- It has proper certification built in so it has an https URL
- It is currently free with an Adobe CC subscription
- It is compatible with using your own domain
- The Lightroom integration looks good (but I don’t use Lightroom)
- Updating pages is easy and relatively quick
And on the negative side;
- The CMS takes time to learn
- Updating the A records to use my own domain took ages (but that is partly due to Register.com)
- There are relatively few templates to choose from
- The way that it handles text pages in some of the more ‘photo-led’ templates is a bit clumsy
- The number of font options is also pretty poor
- There doesn’t seem to be a way to automatically add any captions (that I could find)
- You cannot just download your site
In the past I have analysed where my work actually comes from and jobs coming directly from the website are few and far between which might make people wonder whether it is all worth it. I guess that by constantly returning to and refining the way that my site looks, worrying about its content and the speed with which it loads shows that I think that it is still important. I know that lots of people still look at it and I know that one or two of my clients check it out pretty regularly but the bottom line has to be about what potential and existing customers would think if you didn’t have a modern and professional web presence? That’s an unknown. One of the many unknowns that makes marketing yourself as a photographer such a tough job.
How much content should you have? How many pictures in each gallery? What about links to other stuff? These are all questions that throw up different answers for each of us. I probably have too many pictures for a classic portfolio site but I’ve been around for a very long time and so I have a huge variety of work to show. Whether potential clients pick up on that when they see so much choice I don’t know. Nobody really knows. So for now the new site is limited to being a public shop window and everything else gets to live here on the blog (WordPress) site. That balance will change but until then please go and visit the folio site and let me know what you think.