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Pictures and WordPress 7 April 2010

Posted by sbrashear in Design.
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WordPress is search engine-friendly. Photos are not. And yet we live in a heavily visually-oriented world.

As a person who whose work deal primarily in images, which are inherently search engine unfriendly, except through using alt tags and keywords, I have been searching for a WordPress template that has a snappy design and is SEO friendly. The snappiest sites tend to be flash-based (not SEO friendly) unless you design a phantom site or use company such as livebooks.com, which provides an html mirror site. I’ve look at companies such as http://graphpaperpress.com, one of a few that specialize in WordPress templates for photographers or graphic content creators. Given that WordPress is blogging software where word is king, designing an image friendly template in WordPress might be akin to trying to put wings on a submarine and getting it to fly (I’m sure there are prototypes out there).

In photography, it could be argued that design and form almost always trump content. It is not what is photographed, but how it is photographed that sets photographers apart from one another.  The same is true for the way photos are presented, thus a well-designed, easy to navigate website is almost as important as the photos. However, if that site cannot be found, it doesn’t matter how nice the photos and how well-designed the site is.

I’m excited to find ways to leverage software, that at its heart was created for text, to better display pictures and to be found by search engines. Most of the WordPress gallery plug-ins leave much to be desired. They generally clunky and follow no design. I prefer galleries that are easy cycle through manually, but at the same time allow a viewer to use thumbnails to navigate it images of their choosing.  Except for blogs themselves, I do not like making viewers vertically scroll through photos.  Many of the WordPress photo templates have viewer scroll through the site and while I don’t have any data to prove it I think static contained page is much better than one that a view must scroll through. The exception, I mentioned earlier if for the actually blog. Blogs are something that viewers expect to scroll through, photo galleries, not so much, though I’m aware of the success of Boston.com’s the Big Picture. Gotta love pictures displayed big.

I prefer simply designed, easy-to-navigate sites. Sites, in which users don’t have to spend a lot of time finding what they are looking for.  Unfortunately, blogs can tend to be difficult to navigate, especially when you don’t know what it is your looking for. Especially when what you are looking for are pictures and cannot be searched as easily as text, even when keyworded correctly.

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