November 22, 2009 | Category: Uncategorized

Always a Story

In a discussion recently, I realised why image galleries on websites make me uneasy (by image galleries, I mean software like Coppermine, which is extremely polished). It’s not that I dislike the content, it’s often appropriate or useful. You often do need to see something, whether it’s a bunch of application screenshots or perhaps some pictures from a band’s latest tour. They have information to convey, and are worthwhile.

No, I finally realised that the issue I have with them is that they’re almost always completely hived off from the rest of the content. You have your all the interesting news on your site, you have the products you want to sell, you have your twitter account brought into the main site, but so often the image galleries are sat on their own. You’re either in the main site, or looking at the images, but never both.

Most websites are trying to tell a story of some sort. Bands are trying to communicate with fans, software houses are trying to showcase products, and bloggers are trying to put their own little view of the world forward (myself included). In order to tell a meaningful story, you have to realise that so much of the world and the way we perceive it is connected. You might have seen the latest tour news from some band you like, but you’re part of that story if you go see them, and the pictures of those shows are too.

By putting the galleries out on their own, they’re no longer in the same context as the rest of your story. They’re telling their own story. Sometimes that’s just fine, but more often than not they’d be better understood in a larger context.

It might just look like a bunch of gig pictures on their own, but have them tell the story of the particular gig they’re from, mix in your tweets from your fans, and any other media you can lay your hand on and you have a fair richer story. That’s much more compelling and interesting. You’ve gone from a bunch of discrete sources to a tapestry, something to build a legacy on.

Is it more work to tell a story than to put it into a gallery? Right now, probably, yeah. Is it worth it? Absolutely.