Phew! 2010 was an exciting year to be in the website business. The technology is evolving so fast we just keep the accelerator mashed to the floor to stay ahead of it.
The iPad release was by far the biggest story of the year and we were the first website company to release an iPad mirror site built in HTML5 and then the only company to update it and add more features. We think the iPad is an awesome device and see all kinds of tablets coming from other companies next year. Of course we will be working hard to update and enhance the iPad experience for our clients throughout 2011.
We saw a lot of changes from google this year as well and released an updated HTML5 mirror site to all of our users to take advantage of them. We continue to believe flash gives the best user experience on the desktop but we will continue to work hard in 2011 to make sure we have our HTML5 skills up to speed if any of that changes.
PDN gave us two awards for website design this year and I think we’ve got a pretty good chance to get a few more next year. We have some great new designs in the planning stages that adhere to our mantra of “building simple to use, big, clean, feature rich websites without fuss.”
At the beginning of the year we built APhotoClient, an image/shoot delivery tool that works seamlessly with our sites. I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews from the people using it for two simple reasons:
Then, we just released an incredibly simple yet powerful PDF creator for all our clients to use.
Of course we plan to tinker with both of those next year. I keep a list of all the great ideas our clients come up with.
Finally, all year long we’ve done constant work under the hood on all these sites to improve our clients and their users experience.
So, what can you expect from us in 2011? I’ve already got 3 major projects set to launch in the first quarter of the year, but after that, well, just like in 2010 we plan to keep the pedal mashed to the floor and build whatever we need to continue to be the leader in innovation for portfolio websites.
Happy New Year.
We just added an awesome new feature to all the sites: a portfolio PDF creator. What makes this feature so great is that it’s 1000 times more useful than the PDF’s you will find on other portfolio websites. First off, I’m not going to take any credit for this thing besides recognizing a useful tool when I see it. One of our clients, photographer Timothy Devine has it on his site and I begged him to tell me where he got it (his brother made it and made a similar one for us). See it in action here:
What’s so awesome about this tool is how it allows your clients to make their own custom PDF of your work by selecting the images they want and the order they want them to appear in. This solves the two big problems with most portfolio PDF’s that make them universally useless:
If you think about this from the clients prospective (which is all I really do) there’s no reason to download a pdf with a bunch of images you don’t like. If you’re sending it to your boss it will hurt your chances of hiring a photographer you want for a job. If you’re keeping it for reference it’s too unwieldy to keep around.
Finally, the simplicity and ease of use follows our design philosophy.
I can also see photographers using it themselves to make custom PDF’s to send to clients (you can change the cover page and adjust the size in a special settings area).
An important component to any Flash website is the HTML mirror site. We mirror our sites so search engines (google, bing, yahoo) can see inside them and index all the content. Google recommends doing this in their webmaster guidelines (here and here) and we’ve seen solid SEO results using this technique.
As a company we believe very strongly in evolving anything that we build, so I’m happy to announce an update to the HTML mirror of all our sites. With this update, our mirror now leads the industry in design and function.
Here are some of the changes we’ve made:
We’ve been steadily making improvements to the iPad sites since we first launched them, but a couple key changes just happened that I think you may be interested in knowing about.
Smaller images being loaded. We decided to load a smaller image than the one used on the sites to improve the speed.
Improved swipe. The swipe just got 10 times better. I couldn’t be happier about that.
New admin area for changing colors and adding social networking to the contact page. All the iPad sites have an admin where you can change colors, switch to a custom designed white version (default is black) and add social networking links to your contact page.
Add a custom designed white version:
One of the most impressive features of our websites is their ability to scale images to fill any size screen. And, if there was any feature that allows our sites go “one louder” it’s the ability to make the images go full screen within the browser (available on all designs). Many photographers like to use this feature on their landing page slideshow. http://kcarmstrong.net is a good example of that but that’s not the only place this unique feature can be applied. The other is throughout the portfolio. Photographer Erik Skaar has opted for this approach and you cannot deny that this takes the impact of his images to the next level:
That badge you see up in the header came from PDN (Photo District News) because A Photo Folio won for best website design. The winners were Sang An with Design 3 – Brooklyn Bridge and David Coventry with Design 6 – Gramercy. Those were the only two designs I submitted… guess I should have done all of them.
Trent is in the process of moving his portfolio to A Photo Folio. He said he is switching from LiveBooks for the dynamic resizing, HTML5-based iPad compatibility, in-house hosting and the pricing as compared to the custom site design he would have needed.
Brad is also teaching a workshop in Santa Fe that looks pretty cool (here).
Thanks for the props, Brad!
All of our designs have the exact same features and options so it can be difficult to spot what makes them different from each other. Here’s a simple guide to the differences.
Design 2 – Manhattan
This design has hidden menu and thumbs drawers on the left and right side of the screen. When you mouse over them they pop out. In a nutshell this design is about giving the most real estate possible to the images.
Design 3 – Brooklyn Bridge
This design has a fixed and open menu on the left making it super simple for people to navigate between the galleries and pages. The thumbs show up in a massive grid that overlays the image making it quick and easy to scan the contents of your website. In a nutshell this design is about ease of use.
Design 4 – TriBeCa
This design has a menu that is hidden on top and thumbs that are hidden on the bottom, both of which are revealed when you mouse over them. Instead of drawers opening the entire image shifts up or down to reveal the menu or thumbs. In a nutshell this design is about slick presentation and is one of the few designs that works extremely well with panoramics and wide images.
Design 5 – Chelsea
This design is very similar to Design 3 with two important differences. 1.) You can set an upper limit for the image size. All our sites have dynamically resizing images but in this design you can cap the growth at a certain point. This allows you to load smaller images for faster load times and to ensure that you know how your images will look on all screen sizes. 2.) The menu behaves a bit differently in its position relative to the image. Read about that here: http://aphotofolio.com/whats-the-difference-between-design-3-and-design-5. In a nutshell this design is about ease of use
Design 6 -Gramercy
This design has the fixed open menu on the left and a row of thumbnails along the bottom of the image. These thumbs can be set to open automatically when a gallery is selected or only show when the thumb icons are clicked. In a nutshell this design is about impressing users with a big image but also having a quick overview of the contents at their fingertips. It’s the best of both worlds.
Design 7 – Midtown
This design is very similar to Design 3 except when clicking on a gallery thumbnails come up first instead of the first image in the gallery. This allows users a quick overview of the contents of your site by loading only the thumbs, but you can still make an impact with full screen images once they click on a thumb. In a nutshell this design is about speed.
On the day Apple announced they sold one million iPads (here) A Photo Folio releases our custom designed iPad sites, built using HTML5, for all new and existing customers.
We are committed to delivering exceptional websites on all platforms, that’s why we were the first and are currently the only portfolio website design company to deliver this for the iPad.
Because our websites are database driven we can deliver exceptional flash websites for the desktop and HTML5 sites for the iPad.
The iPad sites are designed to showcase your photography and video but also make full use of the unique finger swiping capability and orientation change from horizontal the vertical.
Our database seamlessly delivers your image galleries, thumbnails, videos, text pages, links to your blog and all your contact information.
When technology evolves we do to, A Photo Folio is committed to change.