In looking around at other wedding photographer's websites, I've noticed one disturbing thing in common... most seem to be using Flash for the entire site.
For those of you that are not well versed in web technologies, Flash is a proprietary framework developed by Adobe that provides some nifty multimedia features for interactive sites. Flash was a necessity for many years because there was no other reasonable way to do animations or play music and videos.
Going off on a technical rant like this may be over the heads of regular web surfers, but here's why I think it's important to stay far away from flash:
- It's big, most flash sites have download indicators because you usually need to download tons of content to render a page. You also need to download the entire Flash runtime to get anything to work.
- It's horrible for mobile, Android supports Flash to a limited degree, but it's hardly a good experience. Flash does not support touch gestures so it's mostly useless on these devices. And don't forget, viewing these sites on an iPad or iPhone is impossible.
- Adobe has discontinued Flash for Andriod. Nuff said.
- It's proprietary technology, so the platform is in the interest of Adobe shareholders, not the users of the technology. The vast majority of the web is based on open standards and open source software. Flash bucks this trend big time.
- Running music on your site by default is a terrible idea. This isn't so much a Flash issue, but just horrible web design. How many times have you been in a situation where a website starts playing audio in a completely inappropriate setting? It's just a bad idea. Let the user turn it on themselves if they want audio.
- Flash fragments the web, it really does. We are at the mercy of whether Flash is supported on various operating systems (like Windows, MacOS, Linux). It took years for Linux to get decent Flash support, why put ourselves through that?
I feel like the photography industry is a few years behind in web development. The good news is that we have some incredible resources that can allow us non programers to create amazing sites without knowing how to code. Just learning the basics in setting up a Wordpress site is a great start (and easy to find technical expertise if needed).
I personally setup lisadinicoas.com over a weekend after doing a bit of research. It's not perfect, but it's a start for me. There are lots of things for me to learn, but for now I have a site that gets the job done and it's accessible to people on all types of devices. So my request to other photographers out there, look into what 2012 has for web technology and embrace open standards. The quicker the web rids itself of Flash, the better off we'll all be.
As photographers we should ultimately be looking at what we want to present. Is it with flashy web design with things to distract people from our photography? The point of the web is to present our photos to potential clients. We need to be aware of this when our web design becomes distracting from our photos. I feel our photos should speak for themselves, with our sites as their canvas.