Every week we take a look at a new website and analyze the design. We’ll point out both the areas that are done well as well as those that could use some work. Finally, we’ll finish by asking you to provide your own feedback.
Today’s site is Aaron Storry Photography. Aaron is a photographer in Northamptonshire and today we’ll be looking at his online portfolio.
If you’d like to submit your website to be featured in a future Design Critique, it just takes a few minutes. We charge $24 for critiquing your design – considerably less than you’d pay for a consultant to take a look at your site! You can find out more here.
“I’m a professionally trained and highly experienced photographer located in Higham Ferrers, Northamptonshire. My expertise is largely in wedding photography, portrait, landscape and candid situation photography, however I’m also highly experienced in HDR (High Dynamic Range Imaging) & Tilt-Shift. My background is largely in creative design which has helped me produce photos to suit a variety of media and audiences.”
Here’s the home page of his website:
Right away I can tell that I’m going to have very few negative comments. It’s a nice clean design that’s both very effective and attractive.
Minimalism with Purpose
The design of this site obviously fits into the minimalism category. There is very little color, few visual distractions, and fairly small typography. Here minimalism is not simply a manner of taste, but actually serves a utilitarian purpose: It makes the photography the hero.
The effect of reducing the prominence of all of the supporting graphical elements serves to promote the importance of the photo slideshow. Since Aaron is a photographer, this is conceptually perfect for this site.
Navigation Area and Image Border
The vertical navigation is a nice choice for this layout. Some usability nazis might cry foul but I’ll insist that most users possess the brain capacity to know where to look if a site’s navigation isn’t contained in a horizontal bar along the top of the page.
Another nice touch is that the navigation area is fixed while the main content scrolls. This is perfect for image galleries where you scroll quite a bit but still want to be able to change categories quickly.
I also like the subtle border around the main slideshow. I’m a sucker for little design details like this, they just make the end product seem much more finished and intentional.
If you dive deeper into the site, the thumbnail images have a nice animated hover effect. The dark bar at the bottom raises and covers the image with a button to view the pictures in the set.
Areas to Improve
As I said before, this site is quite simple and very well done, so there’s simply not a lot that I would change other than a few nit-picky items. Overall, the design is spot on and I think the developer has done a great job. Just to be thorough, here are a couple small changes to consider.
The Client Login Button
There is a button directly under the navigation area for clients to login. The problem here is that the button isn’t displaying properly across browsers. As you can see, Safari is squishing the button so that it is barely large enough to fix the text.
Rather than attempting to fix this so that it display consistently, I’d abandon the default browser button altogether. It simply doesn’t match with the page aesthetic. Instead consider styling it to match the rest of the content. Below is a quick mockup of what I mean.
Where’d the Fixed Sidebar Go?
After playing with the site I noticed that on the page where you need the fixed sidebar the most, it’s suddenly gone! As I said above, this feature really makes the most sense on a gallery page where there is lots of scrolling.
I vote that you keep the site consistent by freezing the sidebar in place on every page. This will make the site easier to navigate and more predictable for the user.
Now that you’ve read my comments, pitch in and help out by giving the designer some further advice. Let us know what you think is great about the design and what you think could be stronger. As always, we ask that you also be respectful of the site’s designer and offer clear constructive advice devoid of any harsh insults.
Interested in having your own site critiqued? You can find out more here.