No, I know you're looking to build something yourself. I just meant that it looked hard to me, even with instructions. Trying to mix platforms, and maintain design + functionality (menus, etc) can be a real chore, even when somebody has years of experience. I think you'd find it impossible to do. That is, unless you're happy running the base template everybody else is doing, making your site look like just another photo site. That may not be good for business. It also won't impress your peers, which can account for some things when networking.
Like you've hinted at, I also don't see the wisdom in mixing sites. I would just use Smugmug, or Photoshelter, or the DIY WordPress option, or even something else entirely. But I'd just pick one. As nice as that guy's site looked, the navigation was a trainwreck, a hodgepodge of content. I did'nt understand the difference between archives and galleries, for example.
Once a site is set up, no, it needs little work. The worst part is making sure it's fully secured, so it can't get hacked easily. Some of that relies on more plugins, but some of it requires server-side coding. I've done a lot of stuff to protect my sites, and sites I do for others. Staying on top of core code updates can be important, too. So it's not 100% work-free, but it is not demanding.
The only systems that make buying "easy" are the pay ones. Anything else will require your manual coding (i.e., Paypal links per photo), unless you want a shopping cart system (like Magento), which is designed for products and not necessarily photos. I will say, however, that if I ever try to sell my photos again, I'd look at Magento first, before dismissing it entirely. I want to use WordPress for my own portfolio site, but there's no intention of selling from there. What I might actually do is set a portfolio up, and then hard link to Magento cart pages if anybody wants to buy. Now THAT'S got some potential! (Another good option is VP-ASP.) Shopping cart systems have a unique ability to suggest you buy other items, often due to manual setup in the backend, and I've not seen a WordPress plugin that does anything like that. (Well, there are some "related articles" plugins, but that's not the same thing at all.)
While that may seem like I'm trying to "mix sites", I'm not. I would use two different (but complementary) designs, and the two sites have different goals. One is portfolio, one is for sales. If they find portfolio first, then it moves to sales. I could use an entirely different domain for both sites, but I'd more likely opt for a singular domain. The homepage would be a nice splash page, with a choice to enter the portfolio, or to enter the store. So myphotosite.com with myphotosite.com/portfolio (WordPress) and myphotosite.com/store (Magento). That's what I'd look at, as both are "free" platforms. Of course, my servers are tweaked to run Magento, and have the resources to do so. Inexpensive shared hosting isn't necessarily cooperative with Magento.
WordPress in and of itself does not look good on all platforms, all browsers, etc. That does take some CSS still, and proper image use in the site design. Some themes do, some do not. Of course, as soon as you start editing the code for your own unique design, all bets are off. Testing will be required. I've had a hell of a time getting mine to look good everywhere, but it does now. IE6+, FF3+, Safari4+, Chrome, K-Meleon, few others. On average, IE+FF are about 40% each, with Chrome+Safari making up about 4% each, with 2% random crap that I don't care about.
WordPress in and of itself does not come with stellar SEO, but it's decent. Better than most. That takes tweaking, too, to make it exceptional. Some of this can be done with plugins, but that generally just adds to resource use by the site. You're better off just tweaking the code. (Phillip has become really good at this.)
Honestly, it's all about navigation. If they can find what they want, without being digusted by the design, and the content is good, you're all set. With a photo site, you probably need to do more than simply "not disgust" the viewer, but be able to wow them. The SEO helps them find the site. Everything else affects what happens when they get there.
I need to get my Magento demo back up, so you can look at it. There's no longer anything I've built running live anymore, all of those clients have folded. Recession has hit a lot of folks.
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