OPTIMIZING YOUR WEBSITE TO ATTRACT BRIDES

A few weeks ago, I was interviewed by Vanessa Joy of Vanessa Joy Photography for Shutter Magazine. What an honor for my very first interview (I was soo nervous!) because it’s one of the largest on-line photography magazines, geared at raising the bar in the photography industry by providing how-to tips and training for FREE.

 

In the article, Vanessa outlines four easy steps to help a photographer attract the sudden influx of brides during the engagement season. On the last tip, there is a five minute video where we talk through a couple tips on how a photographer can make their website work for them.

 

It was an amazing opportunity to share my insight and I thought I would expand a little more on each point.

 

 

The first topic was what are some things to avoid on the home page to not deter brides away from their website.

 

I briefly discussed not having music or auto-playing a video. The reason being that brides do a majority of their wedding planning while at work. If your site has music or a video playing, it’s a dead give-away. To quickly cover this up, they immediately jump to close the browser. At that point, you’ve lost them and they will probably never return to look through your site. Some other things to keep in mind:

 

1     Not having a clear message (How long does it take to know what your site and/or business is all about?) Is your style (fine art, documentary, fashion-forward, bold, edgy) clearly defined?

 
2     A navigation that doesn’t makes sense – location or naming convention (This should be intuitive. Regardless of how many times you see it, this is the first time a bride is getting married, you can guarantee her finding your most important information by sticking to a convention she will recognize. For instance, she may not know that ‘journal’ means your blog.)

 

3     Visual overload – competing colors, multiple fonts/sizes, etc. (bam!)

 
4     No visual cues (hierchy of information, color cues, or a gallery with no arrows or a scroll bar to name a few) or a call to action (‘click’ here to see more, contact me, find me on..). You want to keep it interactive and lead your bride to the information.

 
5     A disconnect between your imagery and your visual brand message (This will create an immediate distrust with your potential bride that elicits the fight-or-flight response. She wont know exactly what it is but something will feel off and she’ll move on to the next photographer’s website.)

 

6     A slow loading page (‘nough said!)

 

7     Not including your location (Nothing is more disappointing to a bride, who falls in love with your photography, to find out you are six states away.)

 

8     Not showcasing your personality (Your photography is not a commodity so don’t allow it to come down to price alone. Separate yourself from your competition by creating an experience based around your personality – there is only one you and the experience only you can provide can never be replicated.)

 

9     Not creating a hierarchy of information (not everything needs to be up-front and center or big and bold)

 

 

The second topic we discussed are tips to make sure that a photographer’s website is easy to navigate?

 

Here we talked about having a navigation that is intuitive. For one, separating your navigating system. You don’t want to put your FACEBOOK link right next to the ABOUT ME page, that wouldn’t make sense to the bride. Instead, separate it by location in the design. Some other tips to help create a user friendly navigation are:

 

1     Naming convention (Again, use labels that are easy to recognize: About Me.. Meet Jessica.. etc)

 

2     Having your most important information one click deep (You don’t want your brides to have to dig to find the information that is the most important to them.)

 

3     No hidden links (Take the guess work out of what is click-able by using color overlays or changing the font from regular to italic.)

 

 

 

The next thing Vanessa and I discussed was how male photographers, who don’t wish to come off feminine in their websites, can achieve that?

 

I believe that men don’t need to be feminine to appeal to women, some women like a slightly masculine look or an edgy style – think Jerry Ghionis or Sal Cincotta. By deciding who your ideal client is, you can then effectively design for that market – your ideal bride may not want pastels but is attracted to darker, richer colors. If your not sure, your best bet is to keep your site design clean and minimalistic, balance dark colors with softer ones and pick gender neutral patterns and textures. Other effective ways to achieve this:

 

1    Talk to her on her level and what she is surrounding herself with currently (Basically, name drop. Show her you know who Vera Wang or Jimmy Choo are.)

 

2     Provide a video that shows you in action (Perhaps of you posing the bride, using your most feminine poses. This will make it fun, approachable and instill confidence that you can relate to women.)

 

3     Highlight the experience (Every women likes to be spoiled and given pretty things – tell her about the one-of-a-kind experience she’ll get by hiring you or highlight the beautiful packaging she will receive with her album – show her that you can cater to her feminine side.)

 

 

 

The last thing we talked about is choosing the photographs that are displayed on photographers websites?

 

I talked about starting with 3-5 adjectives that describe or define your brand’s style – that can be editorial, fun, fresh, etc. Then pick only the images that exemplify these key words. Another thing to think about when choosing images is that these images are in-line with your visual brand message. For instance, if your brand is vintage the post processing technique needs to supports that message. You don’t want pops of color or highly contrasting black and whites in your portfolio. Some final thoughts on this topic are:

 

1     You don’t want less than 5 or more than 20 images (Too few images wont give a potential bride enough of a variety to get a sense of your style. On the flip side, too many will overwhelm her and her decision making process.)

 

2     Only put out there what you want to attract (You want to highlight images that will attract the brides you want to work with. If you want couples that are fun, showcase images that have couples smiling and interacting.)

 

 

 

Hope this helps give you a more, in-depth look on how you can optimize your website to attract brides during engagement season. To read the full article, sign up for a FREE membership to Behind the Shutter here. Vanessa’s article begins on page 120 and you can see our interview on page 126.

 

Have you found other ways to attract brides during engagement season? I would love to hear about them in the comments below!

NEW RELEASE: EMILY KICKLIGHTER PHOTOGRAPHY WEBSITE

I’m soo excited to announce the release of a NEW Showit website for Emily Kicklighter Photography! Please head over to her website and show her some love by leaving her a love note.

. . .

Emily had taken her site design as far as she could and contacted me to help bring it to the next level. Her vision was for a clean, sophisticated site. Something that highlighted her images and created a clear client experience.

I began by restructuring the layout, removing the drop shadows and relocating her logo to the top of the page. One of Emily’s concerns was that she had many options to navigate through. She didn’t want all of them displayed at once or constructed as a drop down menu. So instead, I created a custom navigation that would expand for each selection.

BEFORE:

AFTER:

 

Instead of having all information contained in one spot, I created an ‘about’ area that highlighted Emily. An opportunity for a prospective client to — read about her and her style — see first hand, what previous clients felt while working with her — see all her favorite images from each wedding (also a special gift for that client).

BEFORE:

AFTER:

 

An ‘info’ section was created to contain Emily’s published weddings and her collection details.

 

Even though the bride is who Emily serves, the mother of the bride is her client. Her portfolio section had to be one that resonated with both women. She had come to learn that the mothers liked to look through all the images, seeing the story be told.. but the brides, wanted fast, easy access – to be able to view images quickly to see if Emily’s style was compatible with their own.

I created a straightforward design that was conducive for either audience. Mom’s get to sit through a slideshow, watching as the day unfolds. Bride’s get to click through a large formatted thumbnail gallery, for a quick glimpse and the option to select the ones they want to see larger.

BEFORE:

AFTER:

 

For the ‘contact’ page, I elected to stay with a clear, simple way to reach Emily – also serving those mother’s who aren’t technically savvy.

BEFORE:

AFTER:

 

For ordering, Emily’s client’s, along with their families and friends, would use her site as a way to connect to their personal online image gallery. The original ‘client’ page was cluttered and didn’t allow for Emily’s client options to grow.

I proposed Showit’s scrolling gallery. This allowed a client (family or friend) to quickly find their online gallery by searching for their image. It also allowed room for growth – as Emily works with more couples, she can just drop their selection into the gallery.

BEFORE:

AFTER:

View the NEW website here.