Everyone loves photo galleries. They make a site look informative, interactive and “flashy” but it’s not always appropriate to have one. What stipulates when it’s okay to have a gallery and what circumstances make it inappropriate?

Using a lightbox gallery on a site on the internal pages is a nice way to separate the images out and give people a nice full screen, fully adjustable view of the work.

Another good example of an application that makes sense to utilize a gallery for a photo album is Flickr.com. It’s a great resource for family albums, band photos – it’s a fully functional gallery that’s compatible with most CMS platforms (like Drupal and WordPress).

Generally speaking, unless there’s a reason to show a bunch of different images all in one place that are relevant to each other, most other applications of online galleries don’t make sense.  The basic mistake people make is to try to put a gallery on a website for the purpose of showing all the images in one place.  The problem with this (in the case of most general businesses) is that you don’t want to make the images irrelevant.  If you have a great picture of a peach cobbler, put it into a page about the desserts you serve and title it and add a description about why your cobbler is better than others.

My rule of thumb when trying to determine when a gallery is a good idea is to pay attention to what makes images relevant to one another.  How do I determine what’s relevant?  Well, content on a site should be broken down into separate pieces for everything you want to be relevant for in search engines.  That being said, if you have one page per each of the services you provide, you want the images you use to be relevant to each page.  Once you begin applying this method of image placement it will most likely be easy to begin making images more relevant to one another.  But not paying attention to this will just distract the user and potentially confuse them. A confused customer is a lost customer.

So, may I use galleries?  Yes you may.  Just use wisely.

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