Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Is your website iPhone / iPad friendly?

In the last week or so, I've been told by four photographers that they are redoing their websites and online portfolios so that they are iPhone and iPad friendly.  Personally, I redesigned Fraction so that it could be seen on every device.

So my question to the world is this:
With about 30 million iPhones out in the world, how important is it to have an iPhone / iPad friendly website and online portfolio?


  1. Well, it won't be that tough to make it iPad friendly (if the thing takes off) because it's roughly the same size screen as a computer, right? As long as it's not flash, you're good to go.

    As for iPhones, I don't think I want my photos viewed that small anyway, so no. Nor do I think people use them as their primary viewing device but then I don't have one yet so...

  2. When I re-do my website -- asap -- I'm making it iphone friendly. Why not? Yes, my photographs look best in person (they're silver prints), so anything on line is less than the real deal. But I'm realistic -- a lot more people will see them on a screen (however large) than in a gallery or exhibition. And, the more people who can see them, and the more easily, the better.

  3. David, it's funny you should mention this because I just released a new portfolio theme this week for WordPress that is Flash-free and very iPhone friendly. It's meant to be a quick, easy, and free way for photographers to get their work online.

    And yes, my personal site is also Flash free and works on pretty much any device. I think accessibility is very important. The number of computers—iPad or otherwise—without Flash will only continue to go up in years to come.

  4. iPhone compatibility is a major reason I went with A Photo Folio when I redesigned my site a year ago. Although their templates use Flash, the server also generates parallel HTML and iPhone-formatted pages to serve to those devices.

    So for me, their ubiquity and availability when the impulse strikes trump portables' small screen sizes.

  5. Yesssss. The more people that see work, the better. Even if it is 2 inches big. Chances are the computer isn't your ideal way of showing your images in the first place. So if you are going to make a website, make it so everyone can see it, at all times, from any device. I'm pretty sure our eyes are going to evolve to only see things that are backlit anyway. Sorry paper, you are soo 90's.

  6. I think it is more important that your web site (all web sites actually) have RSS feeds built-in. I monitor many web sites through the use of news reader software (e.g. Google Reader) both in my iPhone and my computer (maybe someday my iPad). I suspect that many people do this.

    For Fraction, I would simply create an RSS feed for each section of the site. For instance: Current Issue, Group Shows, etc. That way when you add something new, I will know about it.

    I'm surprised how many sites still rely on the pull method to get people to their site. The push method works so much better.

    My two-cents,


  7. I can't say I have strong feelings either way.

    I recently revamped my website: it was Flash, now it's not. My decision wasn't influenced by the smartphone trend (the iPhone's not the only portable device that doesn't do Flash, by the way). I was getting sick of relying on a third party application to view my site, and it was an opportunity to learn jQuery. And I had some time off. The new site's still not all that pleasant on my Droid, but it works. That's another story altogether. I digress.

    Having said that, I share the opinions above: why not maximize the availability of your work? If someone stumbles across my website on their phone and they enjoy my work, they're likely to make a note of it and look it up when they get home. More exposure is never a bad thing.

    Would I spend the money and/or time to migrate to a non-flash site so it's accessible to phones right this second? No, but it's worth considering for the long term.

  8. I think it is really important for anyone who promotes visual images to be able to view them on any device. As a dealer, I don't want to lose a sale because someone can't see the work. I designed my site 2 years ago to have the ability to be viewed on any device. I am always in transit, and I can't sit in front of a computer to look at work, so if all I have is a portable device, thats what I am going to use. I agree with Dalton, personal computing is only going smaller and more portable, so to me it only makes sense...

  9. I'm not concerned at all about it. I'm not a big fan of flash so if my site/blog works, great. if not, I guess who ever is viewing will have to use a computer or call me to set up a print viewing over coffee or something.
    It's pretty hard to judge a photo on such a small scale.

  10. I think it's important and it really doesn't matter what personal opinion you may have. Just listen to the Apple Keynote on the iPad and listen to Steve Jobs talk about how many products they have sold, podacasts that have been downloaded, etc. The numbers are astronomical and Apple has always been known for being a multimedia graphics company. It's one of their strongest aspects and photography definitely falls in that to answer your question again, yes it is very important.

  11. It's only important if it's important for the producer of the images - say, keeping to the native screen format of your DSLR. Otherwise why bother? The number of apps sold for iPhones is surely not that relevant unless shake a recipe, or, need for speed is important to you. BUT, having such a small display area does surely open up the possibilities for forcing an intimate (one person at a time with each iPhone) relationship with the viewer???

  12. I'm typing this comment via my iPhone. :-)
    I am planning on redesigning my web site later this year after I've finished work on designing a logo/identity. The new site will most certainly be friendly to mobile browsers. I also very much agree with Paul that web sites should adopt a push mechanism via RSS feeds.

    A lot of photographers (including myself) market themselves via social networking and most users connect to these networks via mobile apps. It makes a lot of sense to make your web site friendly to mobile browsing if you are using these networks to bring traffic to your site.

  13. It doesn't matter to me as much it apparantly does to some other people. I don't think many people look at artist sites except those interested in the work. If they want to see my site they'll have to view it on a computer. I want my viewers to see my work with my flash site and it doesn't bother me that it won't work on a tiny iPhone. Blog/professional sites, like online magazines, for example, should be viewable on any device. However, I'm not convinced that it is a huge deal that people can't see my work on every platform. People who usually look at my site are folks that have seen an exhibition or my work in another venue (online or otherwise). I never browse artist websites on a mobile device. At least not randomly searching through the millions and millions of artist sites out there... Do you?

  14. It's something I felt strongly about when revamping my site last year.
    I'm very interested in the tactile nature of the iphone and how it demands a unique experience of the photograph.
    + let's face it pictures look pretty fantastic on that little screen.

  15. Oh, and when CS5 comes out all this flash nonsense for websites won't even matter. You will be able to export your flash files into applications meant to be seen directly on iPhone or iPad or whatever... So for all of you that have learned Action Script 3 (like me), don't feel like your skills are now worthless.

  16. I think that as the technology evolves, so too does our understanding of it's potential. Where we once liked Flash b/c it prevented people from grabbing our images, now we want people to take them and post them and blog about us around the Globe.

  17. This is a fascinating discussion, and of course I have also been thinking about these things also - especially in regard to the production of PDF magazines.

    I think a general distinction can be drawn between the iPhone and the iPad (or, indeed, the Kindle - and I am sure more will follow) in respect to viewing photography dominated sites, or PDFs.

    The iPhone provides only a limited experience / engagement due to the relationship between the size of the screen and the (preferred) size of the image. In this the iPhone provides an introduction to the site. Of course, this still dictates a need for compatibility between the site and the small screen,

    For the iPad (etc) however, there's the possibility of such devices becoming the common (dominant) platform for viewing sites, newspapers, magazines and PDFs. therefore, beyond compatibility there is the question of fidelity in respect to image and text size, the overall design of such 'publications': that images will be configured at and for the size of the viewing screen.

    As I am currently working on a PDF magazine, overall page size is proving to be a more thorny problem than i first imagined. Do I go for a large page size to allow for more scope in design, or, say a 6 x 9 page size to maintain size fidelity of the various elements? similar issues ware raised by the popularity of 10 inch laptops, which mine is.

    So the size of the iPhone and Ipad (etc) are dictate pressing design issues across the board.

    My two bob's worth!

    Best, Sean.

  18. I think one of the most remarkable things about the iPhone is how it has really helped push Flash Animation into the background of the conversation regarding artist websites.

    I spend 40% of my time teaching photography and making photographs. I spend the other 60% of my time as a freelance Interactive Art Director and Developer (designing and building web sites).

    Between the iPhone/iPad and other devices that don't support Flash and the immense popularity of fast and powerful JavaScript libraries it is only natural and sensible that more artists are switching to HTML/CSS/JavaScript based sites.

    I use to worship Flash and I spent a lot of time working with that program. I haven't worked on a Flash 'site' for about a year.

    To address David's question: I do think its important to have your site viewable on all devices. I tell my photography students from day one that more people will see your work online and on mobile devices than anywhere else. Period.

    If you get really nerdy (and I plan to in the coming year) you can even program your site to load different sized/optimized sets of images based on the user's browser and screen resolution. This could be really fantastic! You could load a nice small sharp image on the iPhone and a big 1200px wide image on a desktop monitor. There are a lot of great possibilities.

    Keep in mind that at it's most fundamental level the Internet offers us access to more Art and increases our general sense of visual literacy better than any other medium. Even Television.

    -Ian Whitmore

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