When we first created Paper Dragons, we thought it would be easy. Create a decent brand, make a good website, shove great photos on there, and you’re done.
We thought we did well two years ago, and didn’t see much need to change what he had produced.
“It’s awesome!” we deluded ourselves in saying. “This will bring in all of the clients!”
This is pretty much a “can’t see the forest for the trees” situation. We were too close to the work, and too proud of it, to know what other people visiting the site sees for themselves.
How do you work out what the opinion of other people would be to something you made? Ask them.
We were given the opportunity for a review of our website and portfolios by Steve Carty, a Toronto-based portrait portrait photographer who has worked with many major names across his career. He also regularly streams live on Twitch, giving advice to other photographers.
He offered to review our site on stream and to give constructive feedback, which we were quick to accept.
I have to admit, the feedback we got was tough to take. He wasn’t cruel or insulting at all, as the advice he was giving was fantastic throughout, but it was hard to sit through because we all naturally want to defend things we created.
Humble pie is hard to eat, but it’s something that must be consumed.
The advice covered quite a few areas, including the design of the site itself, the need to lay out pages for more screen resolutions than the standard 1080p, the contents of pages, and the portfolios we present to people.
Some of it was just plain obvious and stuff we should’ve determined for ourselves, but it took an external critical eye to highlight just what needed to be improved.
For example, as a website for a photography business, we should offer nice and big images for viewing. We also ended up leaving a lot of visible white space all over the site, which on 4K-resolution screens can be a distraction.
We’ve since updated the site and our portfolios based on Carty’s feedback, and I now feel that it is in a much better place.
The experience has also driven us to further improve our work in other ways, lighting a much-needed fire which should result in further improvements. We've been a lot more conscientious of our production ever since, and hopefully that feeling will stick with us for a long time.
The bottom line is that getting advice elsewhere, especially from an expert in the field, is always useful. The hard bit is taking that advice and acting upon it.