Welcome to Wonderful Machine’s journey of transforming the digital face of a New York-based corporate and headshot photographer, Francis Hills. In this article, we will dive into a compelling case study that outlines our approach to building a photography website from scratch.
Francis first reached out to us for help with his existing website’s SEO. Our comprehensive audit revealed several issues, ranging from code inefficiencies to outdated SEO practices. Also, the platform his site was hosted on didn’t provide the flexibility that contemporary SEO strategies demand.
Photography websites – especially photography portfolio websites – are built on platforms that rarely prioritize SEO, and tend to lack even basic practices. In addition to that, photography websites, by their nature, are often photo-heavy while simultaneously lacking text, which makes it tricky to optimize.
Given the myriad of complications with the old site, we advised Francis that building a new website from scratch on a different platform would be more efficient and beneficial in the long run. This would enable us to have a flexible platform, more content, and no errors. Francis was very receptive to our suggestion and gave the green light to create a new website to showcase his work.
We chose WordPress as the hosting platform to build the new site for many reasons. Its popularity as a CMS is not unfounded. With its immense flexibility, extensive user base, readily-available support, and a multitude of plugins for customization, WordPress is a web designer’s dream. Importantly, WordPress comes pre-equipped with SEO fundamentals, allowing ample opportunities for customized SEO enhancement. After working with many photographers and their photography websites, we knew what to focus on and how to create these SEO fundamentals.
With everything prepared, it was time to start building the photography website for Francis. We adapted the original layout of his website by modernizing the design and improving responsiveness (particularly for mobile platforms). These changes are most evident when looking at the updated header and footer of the website, as well as in the addition of simple animations to make the site feel more modern.
Also, we updated the text on the website with SEO-targeted phrases to boost Google rankings for specific keywords. Using our SEO research and analysis, we meticulously selected these keywords and kept them in mind while crafting the sub-pages. We also enhanced Francis’s new website by adding a new gallery carefully curated to showcase his best work. All his other pre-existing galleries received a small update to help with usability – we added a button that scrolls from your current position in a gallery to the top of the page. We made sure that all the galleries were easy to browse on mobile devices since that was an issue with the old website.
It is important to keep your photography website optimized for mobile devices because more and more people are using them to access the Internet. This includes browsing websites and social media and searching for services, including photography. Therefore, to reach this vast audience, it’s essential that your photography website is mobile-optimized.
On a side note, we included Elementor, a simple but powerful website builder which you can access by installing its plugin on your WordPress website. This allowed us to easily replicate Francis’s favorite features of his old website into this new one. Elementor is the best website builder for photographers and, if you plan on building a new site, I highly recommend it. We use it all the time and even offer to teach clients how to use it for simple website content update tasks.
To maintain continuity, we constructed the new website on a local computer while keeping the old site live. The new site was uploaded to Francis’s hosting account only after completing most of it. We decided to do it overnight so as to limit the website downtime. The transition was seamless – the outdated site was replaced with a dynamic, efficient, and SEO-optimized site without any significant downtime.
Following the launch, we set to work fine-tuning any lingering bugs and making final amendments based on Francis’s feedback.
Over the course of a few weeks, a fresh, modern, and SEO-centric website was born. The transformation of Francis Hill’s digital presence was complete and ready to embark on an SEO journey with a higher probability of significant results.
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