I’ve been working on a new design for this site, making themes for my blog and photoblog. I’m integrating both blogs as much as possible, even though they use different software. They’re going to look very similar and they’ll share some pages; no need for two different about pages.
I’m in two minds about changing because so many people compliment my use of the Copyblogger theme, and I love getting questions about the theme; I love helping people with XHTML and CSS (and WordPress too, I suppose). It’ll be a bit different when I’m using my own theme— people won’t rock up and think, “Damn, check out that Copyblogger…” or whatever it is that people think. 😉 Of course my Copyblogger customisation will be visible at The Evolution of This and That (which I suppose should now be The Evolution of kristarella.blog).
Despite that (which is really tangential to the whole post), I’m loving the new WordPress theme I’ve made, and the photoblog theme is ok… it’s missing a little something. Maybe it needs larger photos, but I think the main thing, which almost all photoblogs are missing, is good navigation.
Linking from the main photo
It’s been done.
Traditionally, photoblogs have used the main photo as a link to the previous photo. Sometimes there’s also Previous/Next links somewhere on the page.
When I first started visiting photoblogs this method baffled me. It doesn’t seem particularly intuitive, and it’s decidedly odd when the name of the previous photo appears while hovering over the current photo without an indication that the name is for the previous photo. It was also annoying if I wanted to go forward in time, perhaps through a series of photos.
The screenshots show hover features, but my mouse pointer wasn’t captured.
More recently (in the life of photoblogs, not particularly new in itself) the photo might link to the photo’s information and comments, for example on Fotograf by Imran. This makes a bit more sense to me – at least the link relates to the photo. What happens to the navigation in this case? Usually it’s relegated to the Previous/Next links.
What’s wrong with the Previous/Next links?
Well they’re darn small! Why should I have to find the links with my eyes and then find them with my mouse? Why not just make them bigger?
MUTE has made the links bigger and I like it! I’ve actually been toying with a similar thing (independently from MUTE’s design of course). 😛
The other problem, as pointed out by Dunstan is that if the links are placed relative to the image, they might change with every photo and be annoying when flicking through.
The fancy hovering links
There’s another trend, using the photo again, to link to both the previous and next photos via the left or right of the image. This is kind of cool because it gives nice feeling of scrolling through time (assuming you’re from a country/language that represents things left to right). It’s not completely intuitive, but hover images are often used to good effect.
Some of my favourite image-to-image navigation has got to be East 3rd. A segment of the older and newer images are at the sides in black and white. You click on them and “Hello”, next picture!
I keep talking about intuitive navigation… maybe nothing is intuitive to someone unfamiliar with photoblogs. Perhaps the best we can hope for is to make things as easy or as cool as possible… hopefully both. Either way, I definitely recommend making the navigation large!
Do you have any favourite photoblogs or photoblog designs?