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Parade First Impressions

November 17, 2010

In the past, I attempted numerous times to build my own website. Those were horrible, shameful times, filled with much strife and embarrassment. For me, coding CSS ranks up there with some of the word’s most frustrating activities, like calling a government agency or building a tower of cards . Thankfully, in this glorious, information age we call the present, there are actually people who will build websites for you. Enter Parade, a online portfolio service that caters primarily to visual artists and photographers. In their own words,

We wanted to help spread the great stories and inspiring ideas, so we created an affordable product with great designs that allows you to instantly get your work online and easily manage your website, anytime anywhere… so your can spend your time doing what you do best: creating more for us to see.

Recently, I was offered a chance to try Parade out for myself. I happily accepted and now present you with a few of my impressions.

Using Parade over the past few weeks has been an enjoyable experience. The back-end (the area in which you organize and upload photos) is simple to use and intuitive. If you’re one of the 500 million people who can use and navigate Facebook, you shouldn’t have any problems using Parade. It’s simple and it won’t tell you that your long lost cousin Martha’s tummy hurts. An added bonus if there ever was one.

The templates available to users are fairly standard when compared to similar online products, which is by no means a bad thing. All of them are clean visual designs that do not take attention away from the art you put on display. Each design allows for some customization, allowing you to change certain colors and typefaces in order to suit your own preferences. Uploading photos and organizing them into galleries is as easy as any photo management system.

Ultimately, the small details are really what impressed me most about Parade. For instance, when uploading photos, the service suggests using an sRGB color profile. sRGBs insures that each image displays correctly across a multitude of web browsers; a point that cannot be stressed enough, especially if your site is functioning as an online gallery. For those new to publishing their work online, this bit of information is rather important, and yet is often missing from most photo management systems. I’m looking at you Flickr.

The folks at Parade also do a good job anticipating problems that may arise, and place helpful tool tips throughout the back end to help you as you go. There is a fairly complete help section available, complete with how-to videos if you have further questions. Oddly enough, the videos can only be viewed from the help home page and cannot currently be accessed from help sections they pertain to. In the future, I’d like to see this changed.

Regardless, Parade offers a full featured service that is worth looking into if you want to create an online portfolio.

Taylor Summach is a photographer from Manitoba who also writes for Parade. Check out his website

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