Six years after launching SDN we are redesigning the website to present the photography more powerfully to a global audience of viewers
Six years after launching SDN we are redesigning the website to present the photography more powerfully to a global audience of viewers Read more
About this project
Watch the above video and hear Ed Kashi, Reza, Lori Grinker, Glenn Ruga, & Kristen Bernard talk about the important role that SDN plays in the documentary community and the need to redesign the website.
SocialDocumentary.net: The Redesign
In January 2008, SDN embarked on a mission to create a new global website for documentary photography—SocialDocumentary.net.
The site was launched with eight live exhibits in November 2008 at the PDN PhotoPlus Expo in New York. Since then, more than 1,700 exhibits from all corners of the globe have been submitted to SDN. We have held five call for entries, five exhibitions, four panel discussions and other educational events and programs.
In six years SDN has created an international forum for documentary photographers from all corners of the globe to showcase important socially-relevant work and for the general public, editors, photographers, and NGOs to view this work. We have received more than a half a million visitors to the website and we communicate with more than 7,000 people regularly with our monthly Spotlight e-newsletter.
We are now ready to launch SDN into the future with a new website to better showcase the work by the photographers and to support the many new initiatives we have been planning, including licensing and print sales, an assignment matching service, a new print and electronic publication, a conference, a new membership system, and other new features. But the website is still the core of SDN and the redesign is essential for us to stay current in the ever-changing world of technology.
Six years ago when we started SDN, mobile web-browsing was just in its infancy, Facebook was just getting started, and neither Twitter nor Instagram were even a concept yet. For SDN to continue to grow, to serve the international documentary community, and to implement the changes outlined above, it is necessary that we now redesign the website to be responsive to this new era and to better serve the photographers who trust SDN with their work and the public who come to SDN to view this work.
Home Page Redesign
We will be redesigning the home page to make the featured images larger, to make the site resize to the dimensions of a user’s mobile or tablet browser, and to make the entire navigation bolder and easier to read.
Photographer’s Home Page
Each photographer on SDN has their own “home page”. We are redesigning this to give much more prominence to the photographs, the name of the photographer, and their biography. There will also be a link from the photographer’s home page to their licensing and print sales pages.
We are including a full-screen display option that will expand to the size of the user’s browser. There will also be a link from the photographer’s home page to their licensing and print sales pages.
To make site maintenance more streamlined, and code processing quicker and cleaner, we will be separating the code from the content. This will make all future updates much less time intensive and less apt to have bugs.
We will be creating new templates that will deliver different versions of the site custom designed for mobile and tablet devices.
We will be implementing a new content management system (CMS) giving us much greater control over the menu structure to allow us to create changes to the menus at any point without going back to the developers.
How Long Will This Take?
Not long at all. Much of the conceptual and design work has already been started. We have already discussed in detail the requirements with the developers and worked through all the details. We are just waiting for funding to give the go ahead to begin implementation. But they cannot proceed without your support.
Photo credit: Rui Pires
Risks and challenges
The greatest risks are delays in programming and quality control. Web projects are notorious for being late. Fortunately, we have no hard and fast deadlines at the moment. As much as we would like to see the website completed as soon as possible, there are no major drawbacks if it takes longer than anticipated other than just delaying the launch.
Other issues are major bugs in the programming that are preventing the site from functioning properly. I have enough confidence in the developers that they can work through the bugs and solve the problems in a reasonable period of time. Bug fixes are always at their expense, not ours.
The greatest risk really is the possibility of not being successful in the KickStarter campaign. This is work that we really need to have done. If we are unsuccessful and don’t complete the work, it will seriously impact the ability of SDN to stay relevant and continue to fill an enormous gap by providing the community's premier site for documentary photography.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
All the funds raised from this campaign will pay for the following:
1. The largest amount will go directly to the web programmers and developers to implement the many design improvements that will showcase the images and photographers more powerfully. These fees will also pay to make the website responsive to users on mobile devices and tablets. In today’s blogsphere, you cannot have a successful website that does not present itself well on smart phones and other mobile devices. This is a time consuming and expensive endeavor!
2. Additionally the money raised will pay a web designer to manage the project, plan, and design the many changes.
No, SDN is a project started by Glenn Ruga as a personal endeavor to create a global platform for documentary photography. To date, Glenn has put more than $50,000 of his own money into the site and has yet to cover his initial expenses. While SDN is not a nonprofit organization, it operates as one with an advisory committee and was established to support social documentary photography programming that is not available anywhere else and serves the public interest by providing cultural insights from all corners of the world created by photographers in these regions.
SDN is a unique platform that cannot exist without revenue from other sources beyond the modest fees that photographers pay to post their work. Most photographers on SDN opt for a free trial and pay no fee at all. This is great for SDN and for our community, but the expenses of maintaining the website and organization as a successful endeavor need to come from other sources.
SDN was initially designed seven years ago. In that time the internet and the devices that people view the internet on, have change substantially. Also, social media was just getting started when SDN launched in 2008. The redesign of SDN is important to keep the website current by today’s standards of design and technology. As a website, it cannot thrive unless it can do that. In the six years that SDN has been live, it has become technically a very complex platform, and the costs of updating the design and programming is therefore equally complex and involved.
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