If you're a professional or aspiring photographer you've probably already run into the burden of getting a high quality website up and running. That is unless you're not concerned with having a central hub for your work/career as a photographer. If that's the case then I'm sure you've gotten by just fine using free services like Flickr, Facebook, Wordpress.com, Blogger.com, Tumblr.com, etc. However, if you're like most photographers I know who are trying to make a living off of their craft then there are some great advantages to having a website with more than minimal functionality and customization. Which is where that burden I mentioned comes into play.
Being a great photographer does not mean you are awesome at building websites. If you're attempting to use a self-hosted Wordpress.org website then you're at least taking a big step in the right direction. A self hosted Wordpress site can offer you a powerful solution that is quick and easy to set up - especially when taking advantage of the premium themes created for the Wordpress platform. However, not all themes are created equal. Even premium themes that promise features specifically for photography and portfolio sites can sometimes require basic coding and design skills in order to best customize it to fit your brand. In situations where that is not an options then what you might need is a Super Theme.
The new Photocrati version 4.3 is billed as just that. A super theme that requires no coding or extra design work what-so-ever. With this theme you can be up and running in a matter of minutes with not just a great looking portfolio but a full website complete with multiple gallery pages, a blog, and even a shopping cart that allows people to buy prints or book your services right from your site! If that sounds as awesome to you as it did to me then you'll want to read on as I show you what's behind the curtain when the Photocrati super theme is installed on Wordpress.
So obviously the first step to installing this theme is purchasing it from the Photocrati website. It starts at $89 and once you make your purchase they will send you instructions on how to download the zipped folder required to install your new theme on Wordpress.
When you have the zipped folder go ahead and go to your Wordpress admin > Appearance > Themes > Add New > Upload and install the zipped folder.
Once the installation is complete, activate it.
Upon activation you will notice a new menu option appears in your admin's sidebar above the Dashboard. This option will have a green square next to it and read Theme Options. The first sublink under this new section will be the Quick Set Up page.
The Quick Set Up page is a really awesome feature that makes the Photocrati theme extremely user friendly. I was able to walk through their basic steps here in just a few minutes, upload some images, and boom - I had a new photography website. However, if I were using this site to launch a new business then I would probably spend some more time customizing it. They give you more than enough options to keep you busy for a while and assure that it looks just right.
The next page you will notice under your new sidebar menu is called Choose Theme. This section allows you to choose a ready to go option from a large gallery of theme designs. You can use any one of these themes as is or simply as a starting point for your unique site. On this page you will have the options to auto create all of the basic pages you will need in one click - Home, Galleries, About, Blog, and Contact. Something else I like here that they offer is the ability to choose a theme design, make customizations to it, and then save those customizations as a template to come back to later.
Next, we come to customizations. In the Choose Theme section you selected a theme design. In the customization section, you are able to make that design become your own. In this section you will be able to upload a logo, change the background images or colors, change the styles of your headings and fonts, change the color and style of your sidebar, change the size and order of your thumbnails, change the look and style of your slideshows, and a whole lot more. As you can see in the images below, the options are extremely numerous and yet they require no coding!
Similarly, when you continue on to the Gallery Settings sub link of your new sidebar menu you are able to design the gallery and album experience on your site down to the millisecond of slide transitions. Again, this is yet another reason why this theme is called a super theme.
Within the eCommerce Settings of the Photocrati theme you are able to link your new website to PayPal and enter up to 20 different print size/pricing options. Not only that but once again, you are given complete control over the look and feel of the shopping experience on your site with a myriad of design and commerce controls.
And finally we have the last two sections of the new Theme Options menu: Other Options and Help & Support. Under Other Options you are able to insert the tracking code required for Google Analytics as well as control dynamic styling and even mess around with custom CSS. And then of course in the Help & Support section you are provided with access to the main support email and Photocrati support forums.
So now you've seen what the new Photocrati theme looks like as a site admin, but what about as a site visitor? Here are some examples of demo sites created with the Photocrati theme.
Overall I found that the Photocrati Super Theme lives up to it's name. I'm really impressed with the amount of control this theme gives to photographers who may have zero experience in coding or website building/design. I think it's a great fit for photographers or even other types of visual artists who need a central hub for their work online. And with the eCommerce features provided by Photocrati, this theme graduates beyond a mere portfolio or blog and becomes a business solution too.