My goodness how time flies. The first Natural Exposures website appeared clear back in 1996. Around 2006 we rebuilt our web presence to what you see today. Now we’re in the process of completely changing it all once again and I thought I would share this process with you.
Amazing tools have been developed since 1996 and actually most of those tools have come along since our last redesign in 2006. It’s now easier to work with more beautiful and interesting layouts that give you a custom website that not only looks good but can also be changed and updated exceptionally quick and easy. The new Natural Exposures web experience is being built with the same system I use for this blog, WordPress. As many of you know, I mostly keep the blog up-to-date, down times usually occur when I’m in the boonies with no access to the Internet. Overall I try to keep things fresh and informational. This is only possible due to the extraordinarily easy interface that WordPress employs and I’m really excited about having these capabilities on our new website.
Philip Downer of Manifest Creative showing Dan and Kristie the newest ideas for the redesigned website for Natural Exposures, Inc. Bozeman, Montana
For those who might have an interest in building a website with WordPress you have a lot of options. We chose a WordPress theme company called StudioPress. We also decided not to try to do this ourselves. Over about a 6 month period I searched the net high and low for a quality company to help us build our site, and I finally settled on a great little web design and marketing firm called Manifest Creative just down the road in Belgrade, Montana. Philip Downer has been exceptional in his design work, knowledge of WordPress and his customer service. I have to say that having Manifest Creative so close to our studio was a big benefit over others we considered. What a pleasure it’s been to have a designer/programmer close at hand when we’re trying to communicate ideas.
Kristie working on design elements of our new website in the Natural Exposures office in Bozeman, Montana.
One of the toughest decisions I had to make when we started this process was to bring our web design and programming team closer to home. For nearly ten years we’ve been working with the great crew of Bio Design Works in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Darcy Hastings has been exceptional in his commitment to make our web presence a quality experience for both our visitors as well as my studio staff who needed the ability to make changes easily if needed. I’ll always be indebted to Darcy for his great service and quality ideas.
Times have moved ahead and we’re now building our new site on completely different and much easier-to-use technology. With the help of Philip from Manifest Creative and Kristie Peck, our newest intern from the design department of Montana State University, we hope to have one heck of a great experience for all of our Internet viewers when they visit the new Natural Exposures website. The overall design of our new site will be Adventure Travel, Photography Tours centric. In other words, it’s going to be targeted to the adventure traveler who wants to learn how to use a camera and become a better photographer. It is not targeted to the professional photographer. I’m not sure why so many people think professional photographers are the people we want to travel with. I hear from potential guests, quite frequently, that they think they have to be professional to travel with us. You don’t. In fact it’s just the opposite. We want those who are just learning, have small cameras (big cameras welcome too) and are eager to have a good time. Believe me, I know professional photographers, including myself, and I can promise you professional photographers are generally painful to deal with. They don’t make good travel companions; that’s the reason Tanya is always part of our team, to make sure she keeps me semi-warm and fuzzy. Our photography tours are designed for those who want to travel and feel like they’ve been on vacation, are eager to learn about photography and most of all have an interest in sharing life changing experiences through the wildly exciting places we travel to for the sake of taking pictures.
Some of the new sections on our redesigned website include:
- Dan’s Trading Post. This will be a place where traveling guests of our invitational photography tours can advertise their used photography equipment free of charge. The idea is to give our guests a place to post their used gear for others to see. The sale of the equipment will be between the person who owns the gear and the person interested in buying. We won’t take any commission of any kind. Our only interest is in connecting people to help them sell their unwanted/needed camera equipment, so they can buy new camera equipment. Gotta love that. Who doesn’t want new gear?
- Tanya’s Travel Corner. Here you will find things that Tanya has learned over the many years of travel she’s put under her belt. She may even let me post a thing or two. You’ll find travel tips like where to get the best deal on Probiotics that we regularly take to fend off intestinal bugs in places like India, Africa and South America. Tanya’s also a great cook and she loves learning about new recipes of traditional foods from around the world. So expect a receipt or two now and again. Lots of possibilities for this section.
- Jill’s Photoshop Tips. My assistant Jill graduated from Montana State University with a degree in photography and she’s our resident Photoshop guru. Those of you who have traveled with me know my dislike for Photoshop but I do realize it’s one of those just barely necessary evils. If Aperture gets a few more tools Jill may have to move over to Aperture where I’ll be able to teach her a thing or two. But as of today, she’s the go-to gal for all things Photoshop and the one art directors call on if I’ve made a mistake and an image needs additional help. We don’t create images in the computer but Jill does know how to make those things happen. She’ll be offering her insights in to all things Photoshop for those who just can’t leave a good photo alone. Jill will be adding her two cents via our blog.
- Submit Your Photo for Critique. So often photo enthusiasts request that I take a look at their portfolio of images to get my opinion on their photography. To help accommodate more of these opportunities we plan to have a section on the new website where anybody can post an image to our site, I’ll review it and make constructive suggestions on how the image might be improved. My critiquing style is the velvet glove approach. I’m not out to make anybody look bad. If it can’t be improved, due to it being amazing already, I’ll mention that as well. Believe me, I see some beautiful images that I wished I had shot. There are a lot of good photographers out there and some of them are utterly amazing. I’m hopeful this section will help more people understand what a quality photograph is and in turn help aspiring photographers learn from the comments of myself as well as others who take part in the conversation.
So that’s about it for now. We hope to have everything finished within 6 months, hopefully sooner. If you have any suggestions you would like us to think about that would make our site more appealing to you, our readers, I would love to hear them. Don’t forget to sign up for our blog updates by setting up your RSS Feeder, and do me a favor and give us a LIKE on Facebook
if you are on there. I need all the friends I can get! Keep your camera at hand and be ready of that next amazing moment.