New Smugmug and a Redesign

Shortly after I launched my Smugmug website, the company announced a complete overhaul of their entire platform. Since their big announcement on July 30th, I've been on the fence about moving to the new Smugmug and leaving behind all the work I did on the old platform. I spent this past weekend digging into the new Smugmug and ended up not only redesigning my Smugmug website, but also my Squarespace website. I did this partly because I was already thinking about updating my Squarespace design and partly because I didn't want to try and make new Smugmug look like old Smugmug. Updating both websites simultaneously also ended up being less time consuming than making Smugmug look like Squarespace. Overall, I'm extremely happy with how the entire redesign turned out.

So what do I think of the new Smugmug? The short answer is that it is definitely a move in the right direction. They went to a template model, similar to Squarespace, and in the process made the customization process much easier. The templates they offer are all beautiful and really let photographers showcase their images. Instead of having to rely on custom HTML and CSS, the new Smugmug lets users insert content blocks on various sections of the page. While those that want advanced customizations can still use HTML and CSS, I think most users will be very happy with what can be accomplished using the new drag and drop interface. 

To tell you the truth, the new Smugmug reminds me a lot of Squarespace. Both services now provide attractive templates as a starting point and allow users to customize as much or as little as they want. All from a simple and easy to use interface. Both companies also offer free trials, so if you're looking to build a new website or for a place to host and showoff your images, I suggest you check them out.

Prints from Smugmug

One of my goals this year was to make my photographs available for sale through my website. After getting numerous inquiries during the past few months, I got to work and started looking for the best way to make this happen. I initially wanted to use the Squarespace Commerce feature announced in February because it meant I could let buyers purchase directly from me. After a bit more thought however, all the things that went along with running my own e-commerce store just wasn't that appealing to me at this time.

The search went on and I ended up with trial accounts with both Zenfolio and Smugmug, two services that are geared towards letting photographers showcase and sell their work online. I tried out Zenfolio first since I used the service briefly a few years back. I got up and running quickly and was able to upload some portraits I shot for a friend to download. All in all, pretty painless. The downside with Zenfolio was that the customization options were pretty limited. I was able to upload a logo and do some minor tinkering to set up a portal that I could live with. But I just wasn't able to get it to a point where I was happy with it.

I then moved on to Smugmug, which also allowed me to get up and running quickly. The difference with Smugmug was that I was able to really dig in and completely (almost) customize the look of my portal. It took many hours of re-learning HTML/CSS and countless searches in the Smugmug forums, but I was able to make the gallery pages in Smugmug look almost identical to my Squarespace website. In fact, other than the URL (which I decided not to mask) and the small Smugmug footer (which is not removable), it's pretty hard to tell that my portfolios and print store are hosted by Smugmug instead of Squarespace. 

I was so happy with what I was able to do with Smugmug, that I went ahead and signed up for the annual business plan. I may do more tinkering down the road, because that's just in my nature, but it's great that I was able to get the print store up and running in under a week. To check out the prints that are currently available, just visit my SmugMug website. Feel free to let me know what you think by leaving a comment or sending me a message from the Contact page.