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MW3.0: Getting to Know the New Website

It’s time to talk a bit more about the new site!

This is the third iteration of this website (thus the nickname “MW3.0”), and the transition to the new design is far from complete.  But the framework is in place and the design is live, even if we’re still making minor tweaks here and there.  Overall, I’d say it’s a huge improvement already.

MaxWaugh.com first design

MW1.0: MaxWaugh.com circa 2001.  I swear I was not trying to emulate the soccer hooligan look.

I’ve been plotting a design change for many, many years, so it’s a relief to see it finally become a reality.    I’d been aching for a new design for some time, but the new site had to fit all my needs, so I was asking a lot.  It couldn’t be just a portfolio site, which is what most photographers use.  I’ve always provided a lot of extra information and non-photographic content in addition to my images, so the website had to maintain its capacity for additional text and information.

I also required an image search function.  In the past (especially back in 2001, when I first launched MaxWaugh.com) I was simply happy to share images from my travels–can you tell I had just returned from England when the site initially launched?–to give folks a view of what the world had to offer.  It was more about the individual trips and adventures rather than the specific subjects.  Keyword searches weren’t a priority.  It wasn’t until my umpteenth trip to Yellowstone that I started to realize if someone wanted to find a black bear image, they’d have to peruse a dozen (or more) different galleries.  Plus, keyword search is an absolute necessity for my business.  Stock isn’t quite dead yet.

I also needed a blog.  Yes, needed.  Even if nobody reads this stuff.  I write too much–trip reports, Facebook posts, etc.–to not have one.  A bit selfishly, I thought that if I’m going to write all these trip reports, then I should at least be driving traffic to my own website, not a third party forum.  But I also want a lasting archive that’s searchable.  I still believe trip reports are a valuable resource for travelers seeking information about particular locations.  I’ve been using travel diaries and journals posted by others for many, many years when I’m researching a new destination.  So why not make MW3 one of those resources as well?

Finally, it simply had to be easier to use.  Did you know I hand-coded the older versions of this site on my own?  Yup, for every new photo I uploaded and every new page I created, I was writing out HTML.  This actually worked great for a while.  Google loved MW2 for several years, until they finally switched up their search algorithms a few years ago.  And by then it was becoming far too difficult to make mass edits and updates.  So it was time to simplify things on the admin side.

So, with all that in mind, the third generation of this site was born.  It wasn’t a smooth transition.  I wasted a lot of money on alternate solutions that didn’t work out.  But I finally settled on combining a versatile WordPress template with the stock power of PhotoShelter.  Though I worked in web design and taught myself how to code, this task was way too complex, so I needed to bring in outside help.  Thankfully, Steve Fox at Born Digital Web Design has been up to the task.  I’d be lost without his help, and the integration and overall structure of much of what you see here can be credited to him.  Thanks Steve!

 

Navigating Your Way Around the Site

Enough about history.  Let’s talk about the new and improved MaxWaugh.com, and how you can find your way around.  A lot of the site is fairly straight-forward, I’d think, but I want to at least give you a rundown on the main navigation items and some of the details on the inside.  There’s much more technical stuff to discuss regarding ordering prints and store items, licensing images, Lightboxes, etc.  We’ll cover that later.  For now, here’s a basic rundown of the most important nav elements.

MaxWaugh.com navigation

You’ll recognize this as the top of the website, which is seen on every single page.  There are two navigation bars, the main nav (below) and the “subnav” in the gray bar at the top.  Let’s cover the gray bar items first.

Gray Subnav Menu Items (from left to right)

  • Facebook: This links to my Facebook page.  If you don’t follow me there, but would like to enjoy a new photo almost daily, see work from other photographers I admire and receive news fast, I suggest you like my page.  It’s like an expanded version of this blog, I suppose, but much less wordy.  I don’t tweet, so Facebook is the place to go for my social media coverage.
  • YouTube: This links to my YouTube channel, which you can also follow.  Occasionally I’ll post new videos there, which I like to edit and present for fun.
  • View Lightbox: This is for quick access to your photo lightbox.  What’s a lightbox?  It’s where you can set aside images you find in the archive to review and order later.  This is commonly used by clients looking to license images for commercial or editorial use, but can be handy if you’re planning to order a bunch of prints from me.
  • Cart: After you finalized the details of your print or store item orders, they’ll end up in the shopping cart.
  • Subscribe: To my email newsletter!  Why haven’t you?  Did you know I give away free desktop wallpapers with nearly every newsletter?
  • Account: If you order frequently, you’ll want to set up an account.  This way you can set up and store lightboxes and other information.  This is where you’d log in.

Main Menu Items (from left to right)

  • Home: Duh.
  • Archive: This links to my soon-to-be-expansive photo archive.  This is where all of the images will be stored.  Note that if you hover over this menu item, a drop-down menu will appear with additional options: Lightbox (same as the View Lightbox item in the subnav above), Search Archive (an advanced image search function), and client login items.
  • Store: This is where you’ll find gift items such as calendars, books, etc.  If you want to view my collection of brand new 2016 calendars, you need to go to the Store.  Note that if you want to order photo prints, you do that from the individual photo pages (more on that later).
  • Workshops & Tours: A very important part of my business.  This is where you get the full rundown on all of my upcoming photo tours.  When you’re ready to join me on a photo adventure, click here to see the upcoming schedule of amazing destinations I’ll be visiting.
  • Travel: As noted, I provide more than just photos on this site.  I’ve written up a lot of trip reports and provided summaries of various destinations I’ve visited over the years, in hopes of helping others with their travel planning.  You can access this travel information here.
  • News: Points to this blog.
  • Bio: A little about me.  If you want to contact me directly, you may do so through this page (or via the Contact link in the bottom navigation found on every page of the site).
  • That little magnifying glass thingy: That’s tied to my photo archive, so you can type in a keyword anywhere on the site and instantly bring up images you may be looking for.

I think this is enough to get you started.  In a future post, I’ll get into more details about the image archive and ordering prints.

In the meantime, thank you for visiting the site, and have fun exploring!  If you should find any bugs–broken links, etc.–feel free to point them out.  I know they exist, as there are still several updates that need to be made following the transition from the test server, so anything you find will help me make the necessary tweaks a bit faster.

Update: Part 2 of the series on getting to know the website focuses on using the photo archive and ordering photos.  Click here to read the article.

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