Focus On upgrading

The Site:
The Job: Website Update

Local Niagara Wedding Photographer

Recently I was contacted by long time client of mine Kim Cartmell of Focus On You Photography. As a local Niagara photographer there is a lot of competition. Kim was looking to update her site and bring it to a modern and more, pardon the term, focused on photography approach.

This is common to a web designer. A client often decides it’s time to update their website, much like updating a home. Maybe some paint here, get rid of this, replace it with that. It’s very similar in a sense. And as a designer, I take that approach in redesigning a website for someone who wishes to update their site.

Questions I ask myself, and the client:

  1. What on the site is “out of date”?
  2. Is there anything that could be completely done away with?
  3. In this case, I was not the original website designer. I was commissioned to do some maintenance work on her existing site. So the question came up of why does this site not “feel” like a photographers website? What about the site is sending the wrong message.

Having reviewed those questions together and determining our answers, the concept for the new design became clear. Bring the attention away from the text content on the site and more to the photographs. Sell this site as a photographers portfolio more so than an informative site about photography.

We set in motion a plan to reduce clutter and increase the attention on the photos she has taken, which are wonderful I might add.

The Plan

Let’s bring the attention to the photographs by bringing them to the immediate attention of the viewers. How? By adding a flash slideshow to the top of the pages (mainly for the gallery but this idea became the overall solution for most pages on the site to keep things consistent) and including the information below the slideshow that was pertinent to that page.

focus on you photography - childrens enchanted portraits niagara

The home page draws immediate attention to the photo galleries where visitors can see her work and also get details on pricing and packages for that style of her photography. This slideshow was created using an open source slider script titles Nivo-Slider. Nivo slider is a fantastic and very easy to use and implement javascript based photo slider. It allows you to add links to your images as well as titles and navigation.  It was the perfect solution to bring the attention of the viewer immediately to her photo galleries and pricing.

To add a fun feel to the site, and in doing so bringing her personality to the table, larger fonts were used for headings, the headings were written loosely and casual and kept in a non-capitalized text. Kim is very open and friendly and we wanted the site to portray that as much as possible.

Focus On You Photographer Kim Cartmell - website sample heading

A play on words keeps the feel of the fun and easy going nature that Kim brings to her sessions. Putting YouTube on the website homepage also helps drive traffic to her YouTube channel.


Kim’s original website background was determined to be an antiquated look. Though Kim liked the color and the overall feel of it, it needed an upgrade. So a new background image was designed that meets those criteria happily. The new background image serves the same effect more or less, but in a much smoother manor and more modern background method.

The homepage itself is very dynamically driven. The content is pulled from some internal and external sources to feed the page. The “bits from the blog” in example are thumbnail images that are pulled from her most recent blog articles and are linked to those articles. The “focus on youtube” as mentioned is her most recent YouTube video posted on her channel.

Even the top slider images are housed inside of her Joomla installation so that she can modify them as she needs with great ease. Create a new image of the same dimensions, upload and replace the weddings.jpg file with the new weddings.jpg file and the slider is updated with the new image. Simple.

Her website is a Joomla build and is easy to install in one click with her website hosting plan. Joomla is a content management system that is designed to allow not so tech and html savvy people to be able to maintain the content on their website with a wysiwg editor in a secure backend system.

Her blog is a WordPress installation and was designed with the same feel of her overall site for consistency and a seamless transition between the two content management systems to the viewer. The blog pages top navigational menu is actually pulled from the Joomla database as well. This allows her to make any changes she needs to the main content area of her website (add a page, remove a page, add a menu, remove a menu) and the change is reflected across the entire website. The dynamically driven homepages menu is automatically adjusted as is the blog pages navigational menu as soon as she clicks the save button inside of her Joomla administration system.

There are still a few items we are working on in this upgrade. Overall the process took a matter of 3 days to complete once all decisions on the changes were made and the site was not taken offline once during this process. Change can be good!


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