Revised website (again)

Earlier this year, I upgraded my website to a very lovely-looking CMD (Creative Motion Design) hosted and designed site, using a theme of theirs called (delightfully) ‘Gavin‘.  It looked great – very smooth transitions, full page pictures, even on my huge 26″ screen, and very cool dynamic controls and navigation bars.

However, there were a number of niggling issues for me.  One was that as the site was entirely flash based, it became invisible to search engines overnight – I’ve been at or near number one on google for ‘Richard Hanson’ for ages, not through any great skill on my part, but I just was.  Suddenly I wasn’t on the first ten pages of google results.  Not great.  So in order to get back into the world of the digitally visible, I had to put a ‘splash page’ in front of everything.  I hate splash pages – they’re really irritating, and this one (largely down to me I’m sure) was ugly and really didn’t make you want to go on with anything more on the site. However, it did mean I was back to number one for my name at least…

Another was the iPad iteration – it was great that they’d thought of this, and it didn’t look a whole lot different from my previous site, but it was nowhere near as elegant a solution as the main flash site was.  The iPhone site was good though – very simple and clean, and used the pictures well.

I couldn’t direct people to a particular set of pictures – again, the flash envelope meant that there was no direct link to a page, so when a blog say wanted to link to a set of pictures (Toilet Twinning wanted to link to the ‘Pissed Off‘ set for instance), I had to rather clunky direct people through the menus, rather than dropping a link. And again, the use of different keywords for different sets of pictures was an issue too – any keywords that were now being found (through the splash page key wording facility) were generically for the whole site.

The plus points were very real – the site looked great, changing content was very straightforward, and the customer service was immensely good – I’d been in touch a few times while getting the site up and running, and had always been hugely impressed.

All of which is a long way of saying that I was happy, but only just.

Anyway, it seems I may not have been alone – a couple of months ago, CMD announced an HTML-based web template that looked remarkably similar in practice to ‘Gavin’ (did I mention how much I liked the name…?). This one’s called ‘Ethan‘, and is also very pretty – nice big pics, resizing to the screen they’re being viewed on – including the iPad rather nicely.  The menus aren’t quite so funky, but I actually prefer how each set of pictures opens now.  CMD have been very responsive – there’s been a few minor niggles to sort out as the site design’s relatively new, and they’ve got onto the problems and sorted them out.  And I’m much much happier – I’m still there on google, I’m able to point people at very specific sets of pics, the iPad thing is totally lovely, and I can keyword individual pages – I just haven’t quite got round to all of them quite yet…  I’m still hoping for a set of navigation controls, so you don’t have to rely on the slideshow only, but can click through at your own pace, but apart from that, this is a neat, relatively affordable, nicely personalisable template led design.  Feel free to have a look around, in real life, but here are some screen grabs (below).

On the same sort of topic, this blog (Look Both Ways) is now hosted at rather than the longer WordPress address – for about £15 a year, it’s a lot easier to give the shorter name – everything else remains the same.

Obviously, any feedback on either the or the sites is gratefully received (though it might well not be acted upon…).

Now you can find 'pissed off'...

Full-screen - from the 'press' pages, shot for the Times. As seen on my 26" screen.

Tanzania page from the iPad - lovely...

Madagascar on the iPad - they were on their way to build school toilets...

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richard hanson :: photographer :: sheffield