Not all WordPress themes are suitable for a photography website. While some themes may be perfect for bloggers, online magazines or e-commerce stores, there are special considerations to be made when you’re showcasing photography on your site. This is true whether you’re advertising your photography service, creating an online portfolio or selling digital images or prints.
There are many great WordPress themes for photographers and if you study them closely, you’ll start to realize that while they all look different, there are several key elements that they have in common. A great photography theme not only looks good — it also fulfills certain criteria that make it a highly effective marketing tool.
Optimized For Search Engines (SEO)
A few years ago it was very popular among photographers to build websites in Flash. While this allowed developers to create visually impressive websites with animated image transitions and innovative navigation, they were often a nightmare in terms of usability, loading time, and — perhaps most importantly — SEO.
Flash sites couldn’t be “read” by search engines, making it hard to judge their relevance, which resulted in poor search engine rankings. Flash technology has improved somewhat in terms of SEO but it’s still lagging behind HTML websites, not to mention the fact that Flash websites often don’t work on mobile devices.
Themes that are designed with SEO in mind make it easy for search engines like Google to index and rank your site. In human terms, they make it easy for prospective customers to find you before they find your competitors.
These days a great photography site uses technology like HTML5 and CSS to achieve affects that are just as stunning as the old Flash sites, but in such a way that it optimizes the site’s visibility in search engines.
Easy Sales Integration
Your website should be working for you at all times and for many photographers, as well as marketing their services, this often means using it as a way to sell images.
In the past, integrating an e-commerce store into your website would have meant spending thousands of dollars on custom development, but now online payment technologies like PayPal and WordPress themes designed specifically as e-commerce stores have made things much easier.
If you can sell prints and stock images directly from your site, this not only makes you money but also saves you time. Rather than sending emails back and forth between you and the client, burning images to disk or trying to send high resolution images over email, it’s much more efficient to have a system in place where the client can log in, browse your images and buy them directly from your website.
The Graph Paper Press Stock Photography theme is designed specifically for selling images and the Sell Media plugin can be integrated with many themes to enable selling prints and digital licenses online.
Social Media Integration
It’s impossible to get away from social media these days and we’re moving more and more towards an online world where social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ rule the roost.
Allowing your blog posts and images to be shared easily on social networks makes it easy to share your work with many more people than would have found it if you were relying only on search engine traffic.
While there are several plugins you can use to add social buttons to your site, a great photography theme will have the option to add these from within the theme so as well as blog posts, people can “like” or “+1” your images directly from anywhere on your site.
Efficient Front And Back End
As mentioned previously, it’s not enough for your website to look good. It also has to work for you, rather than just creating more work. In most basic terms this means it should save you time in terms of being easy to update and automating processes that can help you to be more efficient.
Look for tools that make it easier for you to upload images, particularly if you frequently upload photographs in batches. It shouldn’t be an onerous process to add new images to your gallery.
An effective lightbox system that allows clients to browse your images and bookmark their favorites is also a bonus, as well as a way to automatically buy images if you sell prints or digital rights.
Clean And Simple Design
Great photography WordPress themes are never over-designed. You’ll probably notice that the best photography themes tend to be simple and minimal to showcase the images not the site.
Your website acts as an online gallery for your work. You wouldn’t display your photographs in a gallery with patterned wallpaper and lots of visual distractions and the same applies when you’re choosing a photography theme.
Beware of added textures, unnecessary graphics and other fancy design elements, and always go for a simple clean theme that will provide a plain backdrop for your work.
While you may think you’ve organized your photographs in a logical manner, this might not be true for every user who is browsing your site.
Image galleries that integrate an advanced search, allowing users to search by keyword, price, license, orientation and even color can be a great feature on a photography website, particularly if you have a very large collection of images.
If it’s not clear where to go when website visitors hit the front page of your site, they probably won’t stick around for too long.
If a theme you’re considering uses a non-intuitive navigation system, think twice before using it. It’s important that important information you add such as pricing and contact information is clearly accessible from every page.
Clear Organization Of Images
There are a variety of ways you can choose to display your images online and different WordPress themes will approach this in different ways. However, the simplest ideas are usually the best and you can’t really go wrong with presenting your galleries as thumbnails with the option to view larger images.
Thumbnails allow viewers to quickly scan your images and view the ones they’re interested in. if they’re forced to browse through all your images at high resolution, they may well lose interest before they get to the images they’re really interested in.
As a photographer you know your images look better the bigger they are, so look for a theme that includes the viewing option of a fullscreen slideshow that allows you to display your photographs in all their glory.
The main problem with a really good WordPress theme is that many people will choose the same theme because it works so well. What this means is that you can end up with a lot of websites that look the same.
A good theme will allow you to make your own subtle customizations such as adding your logo, changing background images and fonts to add your own design touch.
The ability to change colors is also important. While it’s generally not recommended to experiment too much with color on a photography website (remember simple is best), you’ll probably want to try a couple of different looks. Depending on your photographic style, your images may look better on a white or black background, so look for a theme that has at least a light and dark skin options so you can choose the one that works best with your photographs.
A large percentage of web users now browse websites on mobile devices at least some of the time. Choosing a responsive theme means that your website will automatically adapt to the device the user is viewing the website on and look great at any size.
Responsive photography websites look great when viewed fullscreen on smaller devices and it’s easy to browse through photos quickly with a simple swipe of the finger.
It’s important to maintain a balance between a site with high quality images and one that loads fast. Uploading lots of high resolution images is not much good if they take so long to download that your site visitors can’t be bothered to wait.
Good photography themes are coded to be fast loading and responsive to the user’s needs. Not everyone will want to view your images at very large sizes, but if they do, the option should be available to them.
If you’re looking for a WordPress photography theme that has all these elements, a great place to start is the photography themes offered by Graph Paper Press. With 49 different designs, and a huge range of features and design options, there’s a theme for every kind of photography website.