I thought it just might be interesting to review the different offerings and user-friendliness of two photography-related websites:
ephotozine – an e-magazine incorporating member galleries and critique, forums, equipment reviews, technique videos, tips, online store, competitions, member blogs etc
Onexposure – while this site features forums, the central focus is on the provision of substantive photography critique
Who uses them?
Both sites are primarily membership-based and seek the active and regular participation of users.
- 800k+ membership ranges from amateur ‘pet snappers’, to enthusiasts, to some professionals
- users seem to visit primarily to view and participate in galleries, to receive critique, to be entertained and find information
- basic membership is free
- succeeds in attracting a broad membership and in generating a sense of community among members
- there is no screening by the site to control the quality of work posted which diminishes the overall standard of galleries
- more niche and elitist; membership consists of advanced amateurs and professional photographers
- users seem to visit primarily to view and participate in galleries, to receive substantive critique and to be entertained
- basic membership is free
- every photo displayed has been hand picked by a professional curator
- publishes only 1/20 of received submissions, ensuring the site’s artistic vision is maintained through high quality galleries
Layout, organisation and functionality?
- home page layout cluttered
- despite minimal clicks required to reach specific pages, navigation is still complex, given 11 drop-down menus (some with over 20 sub-categories!) in addition to numerous links, slideshows etc embedded within magazine-style columns
- advertising funds the site, which detracts from its immediate appeal, but enables provision of free membership
- home page layout is minimalist and stylish, the white background and limited text ensuring the focus is squarely on showcasing member photography
- more static in appearance than ephotozine
- navigation is straightforward via 9 functional links at the top of the page; the navigation is immediately intuitive with minimal clicks required to reach specific pages; encourages engagement
- there is no advertising on the site which enhances its immediate appeal (other than for an in-house produced book showcasing the site’s best work)
- fine art prints available for sale
Fast load times were experienced on both sites when tested on an ADSL2 connection.
What does my analysis say about these sites?
Compelling websites combine user-centric functionality with relevant content and visually appealing design.
Onexposure succeeds on all counts.
While ephotozine is significantly less successful, given its cluttered design and more complex navigation, it is acknowledged that ephotozine’s offering is an increasingly complex one that no doubt presents significant challenges to its web designer!
Do you have a favourite photography site? Then tell us all about it!