I’m agnostic when it comes to programming languages. I’m a former photo editor who now designs websites for the user/client experience, but I have no vested interest in any one programming language.
When I set out to start building sites I had certain requirements for the design and function. Flash was the only language that afforded these requirements. If another, better language comes out that meets these requirements, I would switch today.
Some people are saying HTML5 is a great new language to build sites with. Unfortunately it doesn’t meet several of my requirements.
1. Support for fonts – Art Directors love typography. It is important that our users can load high quality magazine and advertising fonts in their websites. In HTML5 you can only use a handful of web safe fonts
2. Scaling – The cornerstone of our design is the image scaling. It allows us to display images easily on monitors from 13″ – 30.” HTML5 does not support scaling.
3. Browser Independence – It’s important that our sites look the same in browsers built 10 years ago (IE7) and browser released today. HTML5 is not supported by most of the browsers people are using today.
4. Video Independence – It’s important that video on our sites displays correctly in every single browser. HTML5 requires that you encode your video in several different formats if you want it to show up in different browsers.
So, whats all the fuss for HTML5 all about? Apple decided it would not support flash in its hand-held devices (ipad, ipod-touch and iphone). But, guess what? That’s actually fine, because my requirements are not applicable on a hand held device, because it’s a fixed platform. We actually already build our iphone and ipod-touch mirror sites and our soon to be released ipad sites in HTML and will switch to HTML5 when it’s released (oh, and it’s not even been released yet so one more strike for the desktop experience).
Many experts think Flash will never be replaced on the desktop, because we’re long past the point where anything can be agreed upon as a group on the internet. You can be sure of one thing though, if anything does replace Flash as the de facto standard for a rich media experience on the desktop, we will adopt it.
PS- No matter what we will benefit from all this as Adobe makes major improvements to flash.
UPDATE #1: I found this statement from Hulu, a joint venture owned by NBC, ABC and Fox, is along the lines of what I’m saying here:
An Aside on HTML5
Those are the highlights of our new player. Before we move on to the other updates to our site today, let me address a related topic that’s been in the news a lot recently: HTML5. Plenty of users and members of the press ask about this topic all the time.
When it comes to technology, our only guiding principle is to best serve the needs of all of our key customers: our viewers, our content partners who license programs to us, our advertisers, and each other. We continue to monitor developments on HTML5, but as of now it doesn’t yet meet all of our customers’ needs. Our player doesn’t just simply stream video, it must also secure the content, handle reporting for our advertisers, render the video using a high performance codec to ensure premium visual quality, communicate back with the server to determine how long to buffer and what bitrate to stream, and dozens of other things that aren’t necessarily visible to the end user. Not all video sites have these needs, but for our business these are all important and often contractual requirements.
That’s not to say these features won’t be added to HTML5 in the future (or be easier to implement). Technology is a fast-moving space and we’re constantly evaluating which tools will best allow us to fulfill our mission for as many of our customers as possible.
The Google Chrome Browser now has Flash built in:
If you’re not ready to tackle learning wordpress you might want to check out Tumblr http://www.tumblr.com/
Tumblr is the easiest micro blogging platform in the world and can be installed on a subdomain of your website (http://blog.yourdomain.com). After your site is live sign up for tumbler and tell us where you want it installed (example: blog.mydomain.com). Then on your tumblr blog click customize, then info, then check “Use a custom domain name”. Give it the same name you told us (example: blog.mydomain.com). Done!
If it hasn’t already, your website will become more important than your printed portfolio. That’s what APhotoFolio is all about.
Portfolios have migrated online so your website must be treated as something other than storage for outdated imagery. Often an agency will award a job without calling in a book. For example, when an AD sends me a layout, we discuss style, emotional tone and production values. I will send the AD a number of websites showcasing the work of the photographers best suited for the job. Once we have settled on a recommendation (and know that the photographer is interested and available), the appropriate imagery is culled from the photographer’s site and presented to the client in a deck for their approval. Sometimes the book is called in, sometimes it isn’t.
At first glance it might seem strange that we have a Design 5 (Chelsea), because everything on it besides the ability to enter an upper limit for the size of the picture box is exactly the same as Design 3 (Brooklyn Bridge). Except, there is one other fundamental difference in the way the menu behaves. The menu on Design 3 is fixed to the left side of the screen (you can still adjust border and menu widths). The menu on Design 5 is fixed to the side of the images (you can still adjust spacing).
Here’s an example where we have a site in a browser window and we make the window more horizontal (by dragging the window out to the right) to show you that behavior.
Design 5 – Chelsea
Design 3 – Brooklyn Bridge
A Photo Client is a simple, robust, client proofing/image delivery system that we can install on your A Photo Folio website. We have over 50 photographers using this add-on software. It can easily be added to any “live” APhotoFolio website. Learn more at: APhotoClient.com.
Here are 5 reasons why APhotoClient is the best image delivery tool available:
User Experience (UX) is fast becoming an important way to create a competitive advantage for one product over another. One reason why it’s so powerful is because the end user may have no idea what makes using one product superior to another they just come away from the experience happier.
From a portfolio website perspective I’m sure you can imagine why it’s important that your potential clients have a good experience using your site over your competitors even if they don’t know why.
When creating APhotoFolio websites I came up with a list of UX practices based on my experience as a Photography Director and from reading several books that I then built into the sites. Here are some examples:
Where Am I?
Nobody likes being lost and a website with hundreds of images can be an easy place to get lost. We give users visual clues where they are using physical indicators, color and boxes.
What is important here?
Nothing teaches you the value of hierarchy like working at a magazine. Hierarchy on a website helps the user determine what is most important on the page, where to go first and how to navigate the site. You can easily create hierarchy on our sites with size, position and color of text on the menu.
Which things belong together?
We give you precise control over the spaces between items because grouping is another important user feedback to help determine what belongs together.
How much is here?
Often overlooked on websites is letting the user know how much content is available for them to see. It’s easy in the physical world to look at the size of a store and quickly determine how much is available and how much time it might take to look, but online it can be quite difficult. That’s why a menu that shows everything available, thumbnail grids and numerical feedback are important parts of our websites.
How clear is the communication?
We give you words, icons and color to communicate with, but I believe simplicity is most important. A site should be clear in its mission. If there’s anything that separates APF websites from the rest of the pack it’s our commitment to simplicity.
We added some cool new features to all the designs.
Here are a few of the changes you will notice on the surface:
The navbar (bottom navigation) can be positioned on the left (see it here) or center (see it here) and each item is now represented by an icon and/or text label, plus you have full control over what is displayed (names, order, size).
(click to see larger)
You can now choose between 4 different kinds of arrows for the mouse navigation.
There are now 11 different image transitions available (you can also set how long the transition takes to happen).
There are now 7 different menu item indicators available (tells you where you are in the menu).
The menu text can be anchored to the top, middle or bottom of the menu.
We built a new scrollbar and have settings so you can adjust the position (left, right plus horizontal and vertical offsets), width and transparency.
Design 3 thumbs now slide in from the right and you can adjust the background transparency.
Design 2 has 12 possible thumbnail display options. You can choose between 1 and 4 columns of thumbs and between small and large sizes.
Videos now come with captions. The captioning system has a unique feature that allows you to change what the caption says as the video is playing. Have a look (here).
Finally, we’ve added the ability to put clickable social networking icons on your menu.
BONUS: You can now use the scroll wheel on your mouse to scroll the thumbs and text pages.
Don’t forget that changing colors, adding a logo, video, homepage slideshow, custom contact form, custom fonts and changing images, text, pages and galleries whenever you want all comes standard with our websites. Making changes to your site without calling a programmer is a core belief here at APF.
Want to add a logo? Included:
Want to change your font or add your own? Included:
* Email us your font if you don’t see one you like already and we’ll add it for free.
Want to change the colors on your site? Included:
Want custom fields for your contact form? Included:
Homepage slideshow? Included
Ok, I think you get the idea. Calling someone up on the phone to make changes to your website sounds like 1999 not 2009.
I think there are a lot of websites out there besides just ours that do a fine job of presenting images to potential clients. I think many of them fall short in the very tiny details that make the viewing experience an exceptional one.
These are just pesky little details to some but they are so very important to APhotoFolio websites.
Many of you agree.