As photographers, we are constantly looking for new ways to improve how our images are viewed on the internet. While many photographers have begun to choose to use Facebook, Google+ or 500px as their photo hosting site of choice, nothing beats having your own website. Unlike Facebook, a website is the one piece of the Internet that is truly yours. You control how it looks, how it functions and what features you want. This being said, creating your own photography site, let alone a truly custom and unique website, has always been an incredibly difficult task.
As many of you know, I have been an avid SmugMug user since August of 2011, utilizing their services to host both my Portfolio and Online Store sections of my website in the past. Previously, I had to hire a custom web designer to help me create the look and feel of my website, but those days are gone.
With that, I am happy to introduce the NEW SmugMug. A completely redesigned system, built from the ground up, that truly tries to rethink website creation for photographers, putting the power back in your hands!
I am now in the process of moving my entire website over to SmugMug’s new redesigned system.You can follow along with me over the next few weeks as I continue to fine tune on the new Colby Brown Photography website based purely off of the new SmugMug system (aside from my wordpress blog).
If you are interested in giving SmugMug a try after reading this blog post, you can use the discount code “colbybrown” to get an extra 20% discount.
SmugMug Website Design Themes
While the new SmugMug gives you an amazingly easy way to fully customize a website, you also have 23 themes to choose from as your base template for your website. Each design was created by the SmugMug team to showcase every pixel of your photograph. They’re not your standard template though. Rather, a design is a starting off point for you to personalize the look and feel of your SmugMug site.
Ultimately you have the way to truly brand your site the way you want it. You have control over an endless assortment of colors and accent colors, over 600 fonts and the ability to creatively build each page of your website. The possibilities are endless.
A great addition to the new SmugMug are two Pinterest-style Gallery styles called “Collage Landscape” and “Collage Portrait.” Besides making browsing totally addictive, this extra option gives me an extra lever of control in crafting a unique photo experience.
The New Lightbox
While the old SmugMug lightbox displayed images well, it wasn’t as functional as it could of been. The new Lightbox not only showcases a beautiful large version of the selected image, but it also gives the viewer the ability to purchase a print by adding it to the shopping cart right there in the same window.
If you used SmugMug in the past, you would know that keeping your website and your images hosted on SM’s servers organized was a challenge. Not because the system didn’t have the funcationality, it was that the UI left much to be desired. With the new Organizer, everything is different. You can now quickly and seamlessly move, delete, copy and edit your photos, folders and pages in a single simple to use way. If I was to pick a favorite aspect of the new SmugMug, it would the new Organizer!
Web Page Creation
This is where the magic really happens with the new SmugMug redesign.
With the old SmugMug, you had to create the pages of your website by using HTML and custom CSS in an empty “Gallery”. It was crude but effective way to build a good looking website, but it still required that you knew web design and HTML coding. With the new SmugMug, you don’t need to write a single line of code. This is truly revolutionary!
To create my “Private Workshop” page below, I went through the following steps…
- In the organizer, I created a top level folder called “Pages”. This folder contains all the folders, galleries, and pages that I use throughout my SmugMug site.
- I than created a sub-folder called “Private Workshops” under the “Pages” top level folder.
- In that folder I created a “Private Workshops Gallery” and a “Private Workshops” Page (The Gallery will host any images I put into the page).
- Once the page is created in the organizer, I simply clicked on the link in the organizer to get to the page, where I edited the page.
To edit the webpage, I went through the following four step process.
- Step one – I dragged and dropped the “Single Photo” Content Block to add the photo from the “Private Workshops Gallery”.
- Step two – I dragged and dropped a “Text” Content Block to the right of the photo.
- Step Three – I entered the text.
- Step Four – I edited the link in your Nav Bar to direct to the New Page “Private Workshops”.
There is a lot to love when it comes to the new SmugMug. Not only do you have the ability to create a custom photography website, you no longer need to pay a web designer thousands of dollars to come up with something unique. The new tools and features are incredibly powerful and easy to use. On top of all this, the cost of using SM is staying the same. No new price increases for the four available account levels.
– Basic: $5/month or $40/year
– Power: $8/month or $60/year
– Portfolio: $20/month or $150/year
– Business: $35/month or $300.year
If you are interested in giving SmugMug a try,
you can use the code “colbybrown” to get 20% off any of the above user accounts.
To learn more about these new features and find out what this means for current and future SmugMug users, head on over to the SmugMug Blog and or check out the new “Get Started” video by SmugMug to help you get your feet wet with the new system tools and features. Until then, you can head to http://colbybrown.smugmug.com to follow along with me as I continue to fine tune my new SmugMug powered website built over the next few weeks.