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LunarStudio Website and Gallery Updates 2010

I’d like to announce that I’ve made some major updates to the LunarStudio Architectural Renderings website recently. While the overall layout of LunarStudio has remained the same, there are a lot of new images as well other things which changed  “underneath the hood.” Most importantly, I finally found the time to add close to 50 new images to the website and have applied some minor color tweaks and adjustments to most of the existing architectural renderings that were previously there. This whole process took several days to complete.

For existing clients, this should come as fantastic news. I don’t think most of them realize what this means. I often joke that I should create their renderings for free, and charge to post their images to my website. Due to the high amount of traffic that flows through the LunarStudio website, this is free advertising and also helps boost their own website rankings as well. In hiring LunarStudio, you’re essentially more than quadrupling your visibility to the rest of the world. I often laugh when clients haggle over several hundred dollars because that same expenditure may come back to them a hundred times over.

Updating LunarStudio has always been tricky. Since LunarStudio ranks highly for a couple of thousand search terms in all three major search engines, changing the slightest word or even adding content can push search rankings up and down drastically that could result in lost revenue. Something which seems fairly straight-forward such as adding a single image needs to be carefully examined prior to being uploaded, then the accompanying text needs to be massaged in order to “try” to achieve optimal results. Multiply this by several hundred images, and you have a big potential mess on your hands – especially if you screw up a single character. For this reason, I’ve forced myself to keep the overall design and layout of LunarStudio the same over the years. I’ve avoided adding additional text. As much as I am tempted to redesign the look and feel for something “fresher”, I often have to remind myself that I’m playing with dynamite. Besides, as much as LunarStudio has been imitated over the years (one of the first non-Flash websites to be perfectly centered on-screen), I still think it holds a lot of character.

For an example of the current sites out on the Internet copying LunarStudio, check out the following link: www.copyscape.com. Keep in mind, this changes every month (sometimes more) but there’s always someone out there…

I often think people take the “search engine” itself for granted. It’s often viewed as a seamless and organic process: type in what you’re looking for and out pops the results. However, I’ve read studies on search engine usage and the average person doesn’t look past the first 10 items that turn up on an average search. That means if you don’t place within the top 10 of any search engine result, there’s a good chance that your website will not be seen or even noticed. From a marketing perspective, that’s an absolute disaster. If you create a website, you should have every interest in wanting it to achieve high-rankings as that can help others as well as bring in additional revenue. If you don’t, then you will be stuck with the traditional method of “word-of-mouth” and having to resort to other campaigns to drive interest to your work.

There are a number of things which happen “behind the curtains” of search engine results. The engines vary slightly as the major companies have various patents and copyrights on their code and complex mathematical formulas. On top of the code differences, a company such as Google has been known to modify their search engine algorithm close to a thousand times in a single year! Each time they make these changes, your website can jump up and down the ranks. They often keep these methods secret because they don’t want people intentionally spamming their search results and providing irrelevant information. For the sake of this article, I will not go into the topic of search engines and optimization simply because I could probably write a whole book on the topic. It can be a fun game to play, but you have to have time as well as patience.

For those interested, here is a list of items that were changed as of 10/25/10:

  1. All thumbnails (several hundred) were manually changed from biege to full color.
  2. Thumbnail hovers were all brightened with an overlay of white set to 50% opacity. I could have used a JavaScript, but again this would probably have an impact on rankings.
  3. Canonical rules enforced versus head tags. Some pages were splitting rank by having trailing slashes and non-trailing slashes after their URLs. Depending on what happens over the course of the next week, I may keep this.
  4. Close to 50 new images and 100 thumbnails were added to various categories. This is most of my work over the course of the year, however there are still a number of items which cannot be posted per contractual obligations, quality (sometimes I’m given limited time and resources), and others which are still in progress.
  5. The majority of images were slightly readjusted concerning color balance, exposure, and saturation.
  6. Keywords and titles added to all of the new image sections.
  7. Copyrights were updated.
  8. Updated manual sitemap.
  9. Updated Google and Yahoo! sitemaps.

This is on my “to-do” list:

  1. I may implement MaxCDN (Content Delivery Network) to help boost search engine rankings and also speed up the delivery of images to the viewer.
  2. As a result of adding a CDN, that may impact the sitemaps mentioned above.
  3. As a result of adding a CDN, that may also create a bigger mess by turning up Page 404s – file not found errors which would all have to be manually redirected. When you’re talking several thousands of links, this can be a very tedious process.*
  4. Add additional images.

All of this being said, please let me know if you have any comments or questions regarding the updated website. In particular, I’m interested in comments regarding quality, speed, and usability. I’d really appreciate your feedback.

For more information, please visit: www.lunarstudio.com

*If anyone has any tips regarding implementing the CDN and avoiding the 404’s and redirects, please let me know!