Time For A Change
by Kevin Raber
The NEW Luminous-Landscape Website – Coming Soon
In the photographic community, Luminous-Landscape is one of the most respected websites, and for the last 15 years has been producing original content and building a following of a million plus readers a month. A lot of web sites have emerged over the last few years all offering something for the photographer. Some are sites where the authors produce videos on You-Tube. Some are sites that gather news and topics of interest and repost them and yet others are strictly review sites. Now, throw in hundreds of individuals that are blogging articles on photography and things can become rather confusing.
Through all this Luminous-Landscape, has stayed true to its original mandate and has on a regular basis produced articles and original content for the photographic enthusiast. The originator of this site, Michael Reichmann, has been responsible, single-handed, for 4,000+ articles of the 5,400+ articles on the site.
Over the years, LuLa has had a few revisions to the site design and to the site's look. When I (Kevin) joined LuLa just over a year ago, Michael and I spent a lot of time talking about what LuLa needed and how we could take this amazing site to the next level. Michael, Chris and I spent long hours discussing what our goals were and what we wanted to accomplish to make this a reality. It was time to take the look of LuLA from the 90’s into the second decade of the 21st Century.
Our mission was to redo the site, move it to a new platform and make the site easier for our readers to enjoy, and to find the extensive content that we have to offer. The system, which we are on presently, was simply outdated. The article editor was hard to use, spelling and grammar check couldn’t be counted on. Working with images was difficult and making the site something that was photography related, was rather difficult. To publish an article we needed to go through many steps that were quite time-consuming. All of this needed to change.
Simple Pull Down Menu Navigation
I began to research the best solutions as well as developers who were up to the challenge of making the change. After a long search, I found the solution and developers right under my nose. I have a gallery in Indianapolis in what is called the Stutz Complex. It is a very cool building that used to make the Stutz Automobile but was converted some years ago to offices, galleries, and studios. The facility is amazing, with all sorts of artists, photographers, creatives and small start-ups and innovative companies. One floor above my gallery I found the Web Site development company SwellFire. I had a meeting with these folks and was impressed. They are a team of three developers who are young, creative and smart. They spent the time with me to develop a lot of ideas to help us take the present LuLa site and turn it into the NEW LuLa. We’ll tell more of our story with them after we launch the new site.
Michael soon made the trip to Indianapolis, and he was also impressed with what they proposed. To take a site of 5,000+, pages all written with a range of different HTML editors over the years, some as old as 15 years, and import them into a new system was not going to be an easy task. No problem for these guys. In addition, I wanted them to redesign the site, and I had pages of notes from many readers I have talked to or received e-mails from which were loaded with suggestions. Their design guy came up with a number of suggestions and then eventually mocks-ups of what the site would look like.
Our goal was to keep the site simple and intuitive. We would not clutter it up, and we would not use pop-ups and Google sense ads and other annoying things many sites use. We did a top down approach. We kept the LuLa familiar green and logos at the top. Also, we kept the simple menu choices in the form of pull downs that would take the reader to different parts of the site.
The NEW Home Page Picture Features The Latest Images, Image Title and Data
As Well As The Ability To Enlarge The Image to Full Frame and Beyond
You Can Also View Past Home Page Images By Michael and Kevin
For years, we heard comments on the display of our home page images, and frankly we had agreed with all the suggestions but the old system just would not allow it. Now the home page photo is prominently displayed at the top. In addition, we will keep the last few home page photos present in case a viewer has missed them. They will cycle through as a slide show and also show a small thumbnail of other images. The photo displayed maybe a cropped portion of the true image. But here is the cool part. Mouse over the image and the title and shooting data appear. Go to the upper right corner and click the enlarge button and a full-size image appears to width of the screen. Roll your mouse into that image, and it enlarges again so you can scroll through an enlarged image and see more detail. We know you’re going to like this, and it is real fun to explore.
Under the home page photos, are four selections to take you to Michael and Kevin’s past home page photos. The previous year's images, as well as those from the current year will appear in these galleries.
Michael's 2014 Home Page Image Gallery
Below all of that is the featured article. When published, each new article will appear as a full-width article. It will also publish to Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites as well as to the RSS feed. If the article looks interesting just click on it, and it opens to the full article page.
Featured (latest) Article Is Full Width and Appears At The Top
Each article page will now have a consistent look. There will be social media share buttons if you’d like to share the article with your friends. To the right of the article will be About the Author. Also, there will be a featured ad (just one per article) and a Related Articles panel in the right column. The Related Articles panel will give you links to others you may be interested in and will be particular to each article page. We have had many readers ask for this. Also, embedded video will be the full article width, giving you a larger video to enjoy.
Back to the Home page. Previously published articles will be pushed down the page with the newest always at the top. After a period of time, the article at the bottom of the Home Page will be pushed off to the Articles page.
Also, on this as well all other pages is an area where you can sign-up to join our mailing list. Our intention is to stay in touch with you on a monthly or semi-monthly basis. The newsletter will announce new workshops and videos as well as articles that have been popular. We will not sell this list or overwhelm you and your e-mail box. This is our way to make sure you hear about the latest LuLa news.
There is also a search box that is very powerful and fast. We’ll explain how to use the search box when we launch the site. We have been playing with it and have had a lot of fun putting words and phrases in it and seeing some of the old articles that come up as a result. It’s fast and easy and works like a Google search. We’ll make sure you’ll have the information on how to get the most out of this feature.
The About Page
Let’s continue our tour across the top menu bar, and the next stop is ABOUT. This will take you the about page when you can learn more about the LuLa team and our website. There is also a segment where you can read about current gear in our camera bags.
The Articles Page
The ARTICLES menu is next. This will take you to the article page, and here you will find a listing of all the articles LuLa has ever published. There are 1,052 pages in this section presently. You can go through each page or randomly explore to your heart's content. You can also narrow the displayed pages down by clicking on one of the Category selections on the left side. Or, use the search box and enter in some words that describe what you are looking for. We have been having a blast searching and reading old articles. Now it is easy to do. There is some amazing content buried in the LuLa site. Hope you take some free time to explore
The next menu choice is WORKSHOPS. Many years ago LuLa was one of the innovators of photo workshops. We still offer and will continue to offer some of the finest workshops to some of the most amazing places with the best instructors. On this page you will get a short description of the workshop and if you are interested you click on the Read more... section and you’ll be re-directed to the Rockhopper Workshops page. This is a company which facilitates all the LuLa workshops. Hope you’ll consider joining us on one our upcoming workshops.
The Video Page - Still Under Heavy Construction - Just Wait
The next menu is VIDEOS. We are pleased to announce that the delivery of all of our video content is being redone. Fundamentally, we want to keep the viewing of videos on the site with no reliance on an outside provider. There will be no custom player app or offsite video customer database. The videos will be served by one of the major world-wide Content Delivery networks (CDN) and e-commerce will be handled by Stripe who accept payments worldwide. Viewing a video will be as simple as going to that particular webpage and viewing it in your browser by progressive download - much the same as our free videos hosted by Vimeo. Access to the paid videos will be by login. Once you have purchased an individual video or subscription, you will be able to access paid videos seamlessly. Customers will also have the ability to download the movie file to their machine. Our developers and Chris are working around the clock to have this segment ready close to the launch date. Trust me when I say, this will be video done right.
Now the fun part. Michael and I have wanted something like this for a while, and now we have RANTATORIALS. This a place where Michael and I can rant and say what’s on our mind. We may publish a small paragraph or two about a new product launch or we just might go off and express our thoughts and feelings on a current topic, or something that caught our interest in the industry or elsewhere. This is sure to be a place to have some fun. We will also add a RANTATORIAL Section in the forums so readers can have their moment too.
And, speaking of the Forum, it will remain unchanged except for a new topic or two.
Info About The Author On Every Article Page
There is a lot more planned for the site over the coming months. Advertisers are still and will be a part of this site. The advertisers, which support the site, are ones that we feel will benefit the readers. They are also very keen on keeping Luminous-Landscape a viable resource in the on-line photography community. We also work with B&H as an affiliate, and that will also continue. We are forming some other important affiliations and we will have more news on that in the coming weeks.
Over the next few weeks, Michael and I will be in Antarctica leading two back-to-back LuLa photography workshops. Chris will publish a few articles while we are gone. We will kick off the new site on February 14th. I can’t tell you how excited we are to do this. Look for more information prior to the 14th. On the evening of the 12th and through the day on Friday the 13th the Forum will be shut down so it can be migrated to the new site. We’ll put a notice up about this and when the new site launches you’ll pick up where you left off on the forum.
This has been a big endeavor and one we are very excited about. It will mean more articles as well as a platform on which our contributors can easily post articles. We have also been very busy with video production, and prepping the launch a new series of workshops for the next 24 months.
Thank you for being a reader and being part of the LuLa family All of us appreciate your continued loyalty, and we will work hard to make our site and yours the best there is.
Published – January 20, 2015