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My wife and I run a creatives business as my part time and her full time job. We do photography, illustration, print design, Flash development, and sometimes web development. We have a simple little site that touts all of this.

I've been wondering lately if I should have separate sites for the photography and illustration sides, especially the photography side. I'm not sure how serious someone will take a photographer who has photography listed as "one of" their specialties. On the flip side, tying multiple sites together, managing multiple blogs, and linking off from a main site to a separate specialty site just seems... wrong. Does anyone else out their have any thoughts on handling something like this?

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This is kind of off-topic. While I often grapple with this issue myself, it's more a question of web property strategy than of user interface. –  jameswanless Mar 14 '11 at 1:22
    
@jameswanless: I agree somewhat, but I'm a StackExchange junkie and this seemed the most appropriate forum. I do think that there are some user expectation questions that could be pertinent. –  ThatSteveGuy Mar 14 '11 at 3:07
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If you rephrase the question so that it's clearly about information architecture, I think it would be a good fit here. You could probably ask a couple of other sites as well if you zero in on the aspects of the question that are relevant to them. –  Patrick McElhaney Mar 14 '11 at 12:45
    
@Patrick, I read a generic question (about information architecture) with an interesting context/example included. Otherwise you keep talking about A and B, instead of Alice and Bob. –  Lode Mar 14 '11 at 17:24
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4 Answers

This is a great question! Personally, I would put everything into one site and call yourselves a full service firm. You can make it clear in your bio's that each of you has your specialties and you're not just one guy trying to be a jack of all trades.

The SEO advantages alone make it worth it and your skills are in fields that compliment each other very well. Depending on how and where you incorporate, one bigger company could provide you with more tax benefits. From my experience, people appreciate being able to get everything done from one company and the collaboration between the two of you could make an overall better product than two individuals that don't know each other.

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As a rule of thumb, your top level of division should be by user group. From a UX perspective, you don’t want to burden one group of users with content that is only of interest to another group of users. So who do you do photography, print design, and illustration for? Do the same individuals who seek you for photography also seek you for print design either for the same project or a subsequent project? You should have different sites if each service has different customers. For example, if your photography is weddings and family portraits while your illustration and print design is brochures and posters for local businesses, then you probably want different sites, and maybe even different brands. If all your products are for local businesses, then you probably want one site.

I’d suggest working on managing user impressions after deciding whether to have one or two sites. For example, if you have one site and photography is really your forte, then list it firstly and prominently. Your content should be able to accurately convey what you can provide your customers, including any synergies (e.g., as photographer and illustrator, you can ensure the two are visually compatible in a single product).

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Different ways have different effects and choices to be made.

One site / communication channel

As @Akimbo points out, it helps a lot with the SEO. If you're able to give clients another view of you:

full service (...) and you're not just (...) a jack of all trades.

Also, think about what aspect makes you jump out of the competition. Why do people go to you instead of the full-time photographer? What do you do good on all these things? What is your focus in this? If you found this, it would be something to direct your communication and the website around.

Multiple

I usually think it is better to go for multiple. Then you can indeed completely go for communicating 'photography' on one website and show more of your Flash portfolio on another. The SEO here is also good; though it is not combined, it is more targeted, more specific, more correct even?

But if the different jobs are too small to stand on their own legs, it might not be worth the extra work as you say. You're the only one who can judge that.

Lean?

According to the Lean Startup methods you could also give each profession its own single-page website and see which takes off. See which page attracts the most clients to use the 'contact us' form. Under the hood, these pages might be using the same website and techniques.

Once one really seems to attract a lot more customers, you can think about turning it into something of its own. Asking clients what they would like more from you in this area, adding other calls-2-action or more pages explaining thing. Adding a new product page and asking people to 'sign up'. If you receive a lot of email addresses for this new product, maybe you can give it a go.

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After looking over all the answers, I think a hybrid approach behooves you.

First, you must cater to the audience. Does your photography attract people looking only for photography, people looking for full-service creative, or both? If both, have a site for each.

Second, are your sites intended to attract search traffic or just provide legitimacy for your business when you meet people or attract referrals? If the former, SEO is paramount and you want to keep the sites focused. If the latter, SEO is good to pay attention to, but only to the degree that people can find you when they're looking for you specifically.

When considering illustration, rinse and repeat the above steps.

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