Ami Vitale is a photojournalist who has traveled the globe and witnessed appalling crimes against humanity and the planet. Yet, she has also experienced the beauty of the universal strength of people near and far. According to her, photography is “a tool to make sense of our commonalities in the world we share”. Her work has been published in several international publications such as National Geographic. Ami is also a Nikon Ambassador, a member of Ripple Effect Images, a speaker, and educator. She contacted me to redesign her website.
Ami wanted to refresh her online presence, especially her website which in her words, “is dark, dated and not mobile-friendly”. Her career trajectory was on an upward path so she felt it was time to invest in creating a more rich and compelling online hub. Some of her goals for the website redesign included:
We worked remotely but closely together while she continued to work across oceans and time zones.
Discovery and Project Management
An extensive questionnaire provided a big-picture view of the reasons why Ami wanted to redesign, what she was hoping to achieve, her tastes, and more. Based on her answers, additional research, including an analysis of her existing web presence and her marketing efforts, helped to understand the larger ecosystem she wanted to create. Constant communication helped to clarify at each step in the process. A developer was hired immediately to address any technical questions and potential issues.
As a former editorial art director and designer, I am familiar with how photographers are hired. Having hired photographers in the past and numerous conversations with Directors of Photography, Picture Editors, and other designers, I understood their pain points. Subject matter expertise allowed for easy communication.
Basecamp and Skype were used for communication, tasks, deadlines, and QA. One challenge: The first two developers we worked with a) suddenly quit to do something else b) failed to meet expectations and deadlines. I scrambled to locate and find a reliable WordPress developer.
The redesign was going to require quite a bit more content creation so I created an inventory of what was already on the site and how it was displayed.
We also worked with a marketing-smart writer who helped Ami create new content and help finesse existing content to also improve SEO. Photography was the primary focus so image quality and site speed were also important factors.
The scope of the project included a new logo and identity pieces. I recommended Tara Hogan of Ink + Wit and we worked together to select a solution that was modern, elegant, and versatile.
Based on the new identity, sitemaps and on-going discussions with Ami, I explored initial wireframes to understand and show how content types would relate to each other and how those relationships would determine page structure. These wireframes formed the foundation for the rest of the website. In addition, I provided the developer a more detailed content outline as well as functionality, behavior, and style specifications as early as possible to get feedback and incorporate any suggestions.
A restrained color palette was selected to complement Ami’s new identity and allow Ami’s photography to shine. A combination of Garamond Premier Pro and Museo was selected to communicate qualities reflective of Ami’s personality.
Establishing trust and respect with a client is gold. Those qualities create a collaboration that produces end results for which everyone can be proud and pleased. Ami’s trust in me, especially when the developers I subcontracted failed to deliver was immeasurable.
Buffer for deliverables and milestones. Photographers are constantly on the road and sometimes unavailable. Adding extra time along with constant communication were critical to keep the project moving forward and within budget.
Reaction and feedback to Ami’s website have been positive by her clients and her fans. Subtle modifications continue to be made especially with the addition of e-commerce.
She has embraced marketing and uses her blog, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to redirect her fans and followers back to her website. Recently, she launched a flash print sale with great success. All proceeds went to the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary.
Ami's new website continues evolve. I'm proud of the strong foundation we created together. We remain in touch and she continues to seek my guidance and advice. Most recently, she contacted me about her new book, Panda Love: The Secret Lives of Pandas. It’s my hope we will work together again soon.