Welcome to the NEW Digital Photography School.
Over the past few hours we’ve moved from our old design to a brand new one and have been working on getting a few small bugs out of the system. Thanks for your patience while we’ve made this transition. I hope that you think it worth the wait!
Let me give a special thanks to our designer Matt Brett who has been working for the last month on this design as well as the tech team at b5media who have worked hard to get the new design up and running smoothly.
Now if you’ll allow me I’d like to introduce some of the changes on the new DPS.
Change Takes Getting Used To
Let me start by acknowledging that many of you have become accustomed to the old design of DPS and some are quite attached to it. I understand that it may take a little time to get used to the new design and hope that you’ll find that the transition won’t take too long.
The reason we decided to move from the old to new designs was simply that we’ve outgrown the old version, wanted to modernize the look and make the site more functional. We also wanted to expand the topics we covered and needed to change how we presented content.
New Front Page of DPS
Perhaps the most dramatic change to DPS is our front page. Previously it was simply a holding page that did very little. In fact in many ways it probably put people off DPS. Here’s how it looked:
Sure it was ‘clean’ but it didn’t really do anything. Today our new front page acts as a portal for a variety of activities happening around DPS. It pulls in headlines from our 3 blogs including the latest and most popular posts on them (read more on these below), promotes our forum, shows off a ‘photo of the moment’ (the winner of our last assignment), has a poll and points people to some of our readers images from the DPS forum. The whole point is to help people to find their way into the site.
When DPS first launched it was simply a single blog. Then we added a Flickr Group which we quickly expanded into a Forum. Today we evolved DPS a little further and add two new blogs bringing the total of blogs to three. They are:
- Photography Tips and Tutorials – this is really just a continuation of our first blog. It will be the most active of our three blogs and contain all the normal photography tips, tutorials, reader questions and articles that you’re used to on everything from portrait photography to wedding photography to travel photography etc
- Cameras and Equipment – this blog will totally focus upon digital cameras and accessories. It will announce significant new products from camera manufacturers, provide reviews of gear and include a few gear related tips.
- Post Production – this blog will focus upon all things to do with post production and will largely be a tips focused blog. We’ll also cover significant news of new software in this topic.
Why the new Blogs?
Over the last couple of years of DPS we’ve covered some camera/gear related topics as well as some post production tips – however we’ve never really felt completely released to fully cover these topics because we didn’t want to overwhelm readers who were just hear to get photography tips and didn’t want all the gear and post production content. With three blogs we now offer readers the opportunity to pick and choose what content they want.
You can get it all or focus upon what you want most. Hopefully this will allow us to serve you better and not feel guilty about writing more on gear or post production (which some of you do want).
Where is the Old Content?
Don’t worry – all the old tutorials and tips from DPS are still there. Most of it is in the tips blog but if it was a gear or post production related post it’ll be in those new blogs. If in doubt – use our search tool towards the top right hand corner of the site.
Different Viewing Options on the Blogs
When you visit our new blogs you’ll notice that there are a couple of ways to view them. You can either see ‘recent posts’ or you can now also view ‘most popular’ posts.
The ‘recent posts’ option should be self explanatory (its chronological) but the ‘most popular’ tab will show you those posts on the blog that have been ‘hottest’ or most popular in the last 30 days. In this way you can quickly use the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ to help you identify what you should be reading.
We’ve had a handful of polls here on the blog previously but have never fully integrated them into DPS. Now you’ll find a weekly poll on the front page of the blog as well as in the sidebar. Hopefully they’ll help us to get to know you better as a readership but also be a fun way to help us all improve our photography a little too.
DPS readers take the best photos going around (OK – so we’re biased) so we wanted to find a way to highlight some of them.
Now in our sidebar and on the front page you’ll find a widget that points you to reader photos that have been submitted in the ‘share your shots’ section of our forum.
At this point these are just pointing you to the latest images submitted so we can’t guarantee that they’ll always be ‘the best’ shots in the forum but in future versions of our design we’d like to find some different ways of highlighting our readers images (stay tuned).
At present to have your image featured you simply have to be a rules for this section and keep posts to one per day.
Avatars in Comments
One feature that I’ve wanted to add for a while now is to give those leaving comments on DPS the ability to personalize their comments with an Avatar. You now can.
To have a personalized avatar show up you just need to go to Gravatar and register with the same email address that you use to leave comments here on DPS. Once you’ve uploaded an avatar on Gravatar it should automatically show here on DPS every time you leave a comment on any of our blogs.
If you choose not to register at Gravatar you will be assigned a random avatar (a pattern like one of the avatars in the last two comments in the picture above).
Other New Features
There are quite a few other new things in this design. Obviously there are new colors and layout but here are a few other quick mentions of what is new:
- Cross Promotion of Posts in Sidebar – you’ll see in our sidebars that we’re pulling titles from our three blogs. Also you’ll see ‘popular posts’ listed for the blog that you’re currently viewing.
- New Subscription icons – click on the envelope on the top right corner and you’ll see a nice form appear for easy subscribing to our newsletters
- Author Bylines – at the base of each post you’ll see a picture of and biographical information on the author of that post. If you like their writing click their name or photo and you’ll be taken to an archive of all posts they’ve written on DPS.
- Latest Assignment Widget – new assignments will be linked to from our blog sidebars.
- Social Bookmarking Feature – at the bottom of each post is the option to bookmark the post on a variety of social bookmarking sites.
- Forum Redesign/Reskin – we have not changed too many features in the forum but it certainly looks different. Expect a few more changes/features in the coming months but for now it’s more of a cosmetic change.
I’m sure there is more that I’ve forgotten to mention. There is certainly a lot more in the back end of the site that you can’t see that will help us run things a lot more smoothly.
Tell us What You Think
It is always a slightly scary moment when you launch a redesign. There’s excitement but also a little fear mixed in with it while you wait for people to tell you what they think. Having said that – your feedback is important and I’d love to hear your thoughts in comments below.
This is only version 1.0 of our new design so your ideas and feedback (and reports of any bugs you see) will be gratefully received as we think about the future of DPS. You can leave feedback publicly in comments below or in an email via our contact form. All we ask is that you be constructive with your feedback so that we can actually use it to improve. Telling us you don’t like something but not saying why or suggesting an alternative makes it hard to know how to make DPS better.
I’ll leave it at that – have a surf around the new DPS and let us know what you think!