New Smugmug Alternatives - a brief look

FergusonFerguson Major grinsFort Myers, FloridaPosts: 1,275Registered Users Major grins
edited July 2, 2014 in SmugMug Support
While I was working to utilize (and work around) all the new features of Smugmug, I took a tour. I decided to see if I could find another alternative which had similar features (good visual impact with dynamically resizing and rearranging pages), similar price (coming from a "power" user perspective, i.e. near $60/year).

The short answer was that I could not.

I tried Zenfolio first, and most extensively. It was easy to set up, worked as expected (except one issue with truncated menu items), was reasonably well documented, was fast. It also was found quickly by Google despite zero (zero!) backlinks from any other locations. But it was dated -- the look just did nothing for me, it was similar to the old Smugmug. Definite step down. Deal killer.

Squarespace next - nice look, also easily set up though the editing was more arcane in ways. But clearly aimed more at portfolios with limited content, the navigation depth and features were just not set up for archival use. Deal killer.

Prophoto - a Wordpress template where you find your own host provider (some are really cheap now) and install. Looks very ideal for I.T. oriented types. Except -- even more dated looking than Zenfolio. Very customizable as long as you wanted a 1000 pixel design in the middle of your screens. Asked their support and they said "that's what we do". Deal killer.

Photoshelter's new Beam - very nice appearance, may be a good alternative but -- $30/mo for 60 GB. That's 6 times what I pay Smugmug, and I'm close to 60 GB already (ok, I need to clean up a bit). The next step up is $50/mo, that's pretty pricy. I didn't try it.

I also briefly looked at lots and lots of "portfolio" sites which were more aimed at 5-10GB or less of storage, or a few dozen photos. Not what I personally need.

Flickr, 500px, etc. don't offer customization options that are suitable even if some of their stuff is pretty.

So for all of you like me complaining about some aspects of the new Smugmug, and might think there is greener grass... better go take a look. Maybe for your needs there is, but so far I haven't found it.

I'm seriously thinking of developing one and buying hosting. No, not something to compete with Smugmug, but if all I want it to do is be one format that I like, and just house my stuff -- might be viable. If I can find lots of free time.

But I will say after a week of poking around at alternatives, I like Smugmug better now than when I started, warts and all. :scratch

Comments

  • mbonocorembonocore Social Butterfly Posts: 2,299Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 11, 2013
    Ferguson wrote: »
    While I was working to utilize (and work around) all the new features of Smugmug, I took a tour. I decided to see if I could find another alternative which had similar features (good visual impact with dynamically resizing and rearranging pages), similar price (coming from a "power" user perspective, i.e. near $60/year).

    The short answer was that I could not.

    I tried Zenfolio first, and most extensively. It was easy to set up, worked as expected (except one issue with truncated menu items), was reasonably well documented, was fast. It also was found quickly by Google despite zero (zero!) backlinks from any other locations. But it was dated -- the look just did nothing for me, it was similar to the old Smugmug. Definite step down. Deal killer.

    Squarespace next - nice look, also easily set up though the editing was more arcane in ways. But clearly aimed more at portfolios with limited content, the navigation depth and features were just not set up for archival use. Deal killer.

    Prophoto - a Wordpress template where you find your own host provider (some are really cheap now) and install. Looks very ideal for I.T. oriented types. Except -- even more dated looking than Zenfolio. Very customizable as long as you wanted a 1000 pixel design in the middle of your screens. Asked their support and they said "that's what we do". Deal killer.

    Photoshelter's new Beam - very nice appearance, may be a good alternative but -- $30/mo for 60 GB. That's 6 times what I pay Smugmug, and I'm close to 60 GB already (ok, I need to clean up a bit). The next step up is $50/mo, that's pretty pricy. I didn't try it.

    I also briefly looked at lots and lots of "portfolio" sites which were more aimed at 5-10GB or less of storage, or a few dozen photos. Not what I personally need.

    Flickr, 500px, etc. don't offer customization options that are suitable even if some of their stuff is pretty.

    So for all of you like me complaining about some aspects of the new Smugmug, and might think there is greener grass... better go take a look. Maybe for your needs there is, but so far I haven't found it.

    I'm seriously thinking of developing one and buying hosting. No, not something to compete with Smugmug, but if all I want it to do is be one format that I like, and just house my stuff -- might be viable. If I can find lots of free time.

    But I will say after a week of poking around at alternatives, I like Smugmug better now than when I started, warts and all. headscratch.gif

    Thanks for the great write up :) Think about all the work you could have done on your SmugMug site in that week! thumb.gif

    I do think (and encourage) everyone that ever asks me to carefully vet all their options. I obviously want everyone to be SmugMug customers, but every photographer has different needs, and, being a photographer at heart, I would rather have photographers find the best solution for them then "sell" them SmugMug. But, many do wind up choosing SmugMug, and most reference the same points you made above.
  • FergusonFerguson Major grins Fort Myers, FloridaPosts: 1,275Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 11, 2013
    mbonocore wrote: »
    Thanks for the great write up :) Think about all the work you could have done on your SmugMug site in that week! thumb.gif

    Yeah, just bear in mind that what led me to the random walk through the alternatives was frustration, and a need for a break from, working with the rollout.

    I'd have rather spent and hour doing my new site (where everything worked), then the rest of the time shooting sports, or sitting by a pool with a Mai Tai. :cavig
  • mbonocorembonocore Social Butterfly Posts: 2,299Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 11, 2013
    Ferguson wrote: »
    Yeah, just bear in mind that what led me to the random walk through the alternatives was frustration, and a need for a break from, working with the rollout.

    I'd have rather spent and hour doing my new site (where everything worked), then the rest of the time shooting sports, or sitting by a pool with a Mai Tai. :cavig

    Yummmmmm Mai Tai
  • johnlogukjohnloguk johnloguk Posts: 137Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 11, 2013
    Totally disagree, the new Smugmug is not better than the opposition at all. If all you want is a sexy looking website with lots of big photos then frankly you are welcome to the new Smugmug, but I want a site that works, a site without glitches, a site that doesn't lose galleries and images by the thousand when I try to migrate from legacy to new. I want a site that supports communities, so I can compare notes, critique and discuss images and techniques, inspire myself and others. I don't want a site that locks up randomly at any time, I don't want a site that drives my customers insane and causes me grief because it simply does not work as advertised.

    I also want a site that is about photography, not rapidly becoming a religious cult where whooping and hollering about how good things are is welcomed, but honest criticism and complaints when things go wrong is interpreted as negativity. I also want a site that responds to customers promptly, unlike Smugmug which has currently failed to respond to a bug I reported about 12 hours ago, and hasn't rectified a fault I notified them of over a month ago.

    I've been with Smug for 6 years and used to love it. Smug was the best, by a country mile. But now it is all about appearance, about surface gloss not content and practicality. I don't give a damn whether someone thinks the legacy Smugmug looks dated, if you have your head up the fashion police's back passage then it is difficult to see anything properly. I want my website to work, that is my priority. Leaving bugs to spread throughout the legacy Smug isn't going to accelerate people moving to the new layouts, it will accelerate people leaving for pastures new.

    I hate moaning, I'd love to be positive about this, but I say it as I see it, and am frustrated by the cheerleading in support of a faulty product. I feel sorry for the Heroes who must be working their backsides off 24/7, chasing their tails trying to fix bugs and glitches that should have been sorted out before this mess went live
  • mbonocorembonocore Social Butterfly Posts: 2,299Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 11, 2013
    Hi John,

    We have the communities bug being looked into, and has been on our plate since this morning, but I have been away from my computer so I wasn't able to notify you on your bug report thread. My apologies.

    Michael
  • FergusonFerguson Major grins Fort Myers, FloridaPosts: 1,275Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 11, 2013
    Johnloguk: I apologize if I have offended you, but I have no relationship to smugmug other than as a customer. If one of the other sites met MY goals, I would have moved, because I am not happy with the long delays that have preceded this announcement, the lack of communication leading up to it, and the apparent complete disregard for providing at least equivalent basic features (not customizations, features) as the original.

    I'm not saying "all want is a sexy looking website with lots of big photos", but that is a part of what I want. Photography is about visual impact. If all I wanted was technology I'd not need a hobby and do my day job.

    But frankly I'm offended by "have your head up the fashion police's backside". I don't see that I did anything to minimize the pain people are suffering, but rather to perhaps give a perspective as to what alternatives we have. If you prefer to just sit around and moan about your problems, I wish you well in your endeavors. I've spent part of my time looking for alternatives, and part of my time trying to fix my site so it is basically (I think) working, and part of my time trying to participate with others equally trying to fix their own. In my expert technological opinion, whining never made a computer program work better.
  • johnlogukjohnloguk johnloguk Posts: 137Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 11, 2013
    Ferguson, apologies if it came over that you had offended me, you certainly had not, and I had no wish to offend you either. My comments were made after huge frustration, waiting so long for the upgrades that were supposed to justify the fees doubling, and being completely underwhelmed by what was finally launched. Almost all of the positive comments on the new Smug were/are about the "sexy look" and the big photos. While the majority of people have been struggling with bugs, glitches and lock-ups while trying to implement the changes, the Smug cheerleaders have kept up a constant stream of "look at our sexy big pics, isn't everything great". Frankly it is wearing many of us down. On top of that we were told that "no worries, if you don't want to change right away the legacy Smug will be there for some time yet", but the last couple of days have seen the bugs and glitches migrating to the legacy sites too.

    I can assure you that I have not been "sitting around and moaning", I have also investigated alternatives and unless something miraculous happens will be leaving Smugmug after 6 years in December, probably to Zenfolio where a lot of my friends went after the price hike last year. It might not look as sexy and up to date (whatever up to date means) as the new Smug, but at least it isn't full of bugs. To date I have wasted three whole days trying to move over to the new Smugmug, all to no avail, those are three days I could ill afford to waste. Originally I didn't bother the Heroes as I knew they were being inundated, and my issues were no different from everyone else's so I tried to be patient and wait for the bugs to be fixed. I am a member of 3 Facebook groups currently trying self help to guide us through this mess, and we have made some progress that way. I want more honesty from Smug, not PR spin. Being accused of just being a moaner is hardly helpful either, and kind of proves my point that there is no room for criticism in the new cultish Smugmug.
  • BaldyBaldy SmugMug co-founder Posts: 2,853Administrators moderator
    edited August 11, 2013
    My view of the world as one of the owners of SmugMug is we have a lot of good competition and none of us can please everyone so we have to pick the customers we think we can please.

    My personal guess is Photoshelter is around to stay because they have a good business model and they've stood the test of time. A lot of top pros use them like our friend Vincent LaForet.

    SquareSpace is very talented and well funded, but they seem to be after small stores, competing with Shopify, not really focused on photographers.

    The ones that have hyper-focused on print sales over the years seem to have run into financial problems: Photoreflect, Printroom, Pictage, Exposuremanager and Zenfolio. They are all very capable companies, however, and still keep us on our toes.

    We used to partner with sites that made beautiful front ends like BluDomain and LiveBooks, but the majority of our customers just kept asking for beautiful front ends on the level that SquareSpace has been able to achieve, so that's what we set out to do.

    The upside is the influx of new customers we're seeing is amazing. We didn't expect anything like it. The downside is migrating customers from one system to another is a big job. Squarespace didn't even try when they came out with their new system.

    I lived through a transition like this back in the Steve Jobs days when the operating system we were working on was bought by Apple and became OS X. It was a brutal transition, because some people really loved OS 9, and applications written for OS 9 wouldn't run on OS X and vica versa. But it drove Apple's comeback in the end because it created such a better underlying platform to carry them into the future.
  • FergusonFerguson Major grins Fort Myers, FloridaPosts: 1,275Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 11, 2013
    johnloguk wrote: »
    Being accused of just being a moaner is hardly helpful either, and kind of proves my point that there is no room for criticism in the new cultish Smugmug.

    I was only judging from your response to my posting, and the venom I saw there, aimed seemingly at me for my attempt to share my experiences.
  • ian408ian408 More wag. Less Bark. Posts: 21,309Administrators moderator
    edited August 11, 2013
    Baldy wrote: »
    ...it created such a better underlying platform to carry them into the future.

    A lot of us have worked through similar transitions in our professional careers. I know from my own personal experience that as rough as these transitions are, it's really boils down to this. And though it may be hard to see today, I do believe it makes for a better tomorrow.
    Moderator Journeys/Sports/Big Picture :: Need some help with dgrin?
  • ZBlackZBlack ZLB Photography Posts: 337Registered Users Major grins
    edited August 11, 2013
    My needs are very minimal compared to most professional photographers out there. I certainly consider myself a part time/advanced amateur since I do make some money doing photobooths, portrait sessions on the weekends etc..., but I am mostly a landscape photographer. I simply need a good looking site that works and has a shopping cart functionality. One main reason I love SmugMug is that they integrate directly with my lab of choice (BayPhoto), and they have their print guarantee. I have never needed to use their print guarantee, nor have any of my customers, but I still feel a lot safer having that in case there are issues. I would absolutely love an update to the shopping cart, especially so it works well on mobile. I believe I read somewhere that this is on the table, which is good enough for me right now, even if it takes a while.

    I also love Squarespace. I have 2 sites hosted with Squarespace and am incredibly happy with all aspects there. It's responsive, great looking base templates, easy to change the layout and look of a page, and unlimited everything with the right plan. Now as Baldy mentioned, they just completely made a new platform with Squarespace 6, and I am new enough thats where I started. So I never had to deal with having a Squarespace 5 site and worrying about the migration over. I host my personal site which is just a blog and portfolio for my landscape work. My photography business site is also hosted there with all of my contact, information and blog pages. Squarespace also has a quite impressive e-commerce option available now, but it doesn't integrate with labs like SmugMugs does, so i would have to self fulfill. The galleries are hosted here with SmugMug. I am happy with the new design and the speed and layout of it. My basic functionality I require is being met, but as I said, they are very minimal. As a result of that, most any other platform would probably work for me, but I am happy with SmugMug, their support over the few years, and just the community around the service.
  • gbeargbear Big grins Posts: 59Registered Users Big grins
    edited August 14, 2013
    I think I could make mine work despite all the workarounds necessary - but it occurrs to me if the stuff we can SEE works so poorly (and despite loving SmugMug you gotta admit lots of the new system is not completely workable) - well, how about what we CAN'T see ? How in the world are we gonna be able to tell if Google can't find the site because the tags, keywords, etc do not work. I can't even reliably change the size of a font - I have to delete the whole text and re-enter. If something that simple doesn't work, why would I think the key invisible elements I CAN'T SEE will work ? ? Bill Wilson (gbear) [email protected] [email protected]
  • ian408ian408 More wag. Less Bark. Posts: 21,309Administrators moderator
    edited August 14, 2013
    gbear wrote: »
    I think I could make mine work despite all the workarounds necessary - but it occurrs to me if the stuff we can SEE works so poorly (and despite loving SmugMug you gotta admit lots of the new system is not completely workable) - well, how about what we CAN'T see ? How in the world are we gonna be able to tell if Google can't find the site because the tags, keywords, etc do not work. I can't even reliably change the size of a font - I have to delete the whole text and re-enter. If something that simple doesn't work, why would I think the key invisible elements I CAN'T SEE will work ? ? Bill Wilson (gbear) bill-wilson.Smugmug.com [email protected]

    I'm sorry you feel this way.

    What do you feel you would need to work around? I'm looking at your site and there are just a few things you use. All of which are easily available from existing templates.

    To change the size of the font, just highlight the text then select the size of the font from menu (far left). Does that solve your problem?
    Moderator Journeys/Sports/Big Picture :: Need some help with dgrin?
  • brotherjugbrotherjug Big grins Posts: 32Registered Users Big grins
    edited December 19, 2013
    Smugmug missed this time
    I love these threads because once a month I look around to see if anyone can get me away from zenfolio.
    I sell a lot of photos online and need strong admin options (hands down zenfolio, by far) with a clean design and interface. Since I can't stand the look of zenfolio, I started playing around with the new Smugmug.

    After watching their videos about how proud they were to have rebuilt themselves, I started a trial. Everything looked great. i customized the heck out of it. Got the design I always wanted, then…I had to create an "event" to give my clients the ability to pick favorites. Unfortunately, Smugmug won't let you customize the Event page, so all those customizations I spent hours on are gone when a client goes to the Event page or the Favorites page.

    Major deal breaker. Why wouldn't you allow customizations across your entire site so everything looks consistent?

    So, now I am stuck waiting for someone to figure it all out. Maybe zenfolio's Phase II will address their design flaws.






    ian408 wrote: »
    I'm sorry you feel this way.

    What do you feel you would need to work around? I'm looking at your site and there are just a few things you use. All of which are easily available from existing templates.

    To change the size of the font, just highlight the text then select the size of the font from menu (far left). Does that solve your problem?
  • mbonocorembonocore Social Butterfly Posts: 2,299Registered Users Major grins
    edited December 19, 2013
    brotherjug wrote: »
    I love these threads because once a month I look around to see if anyone can get me away from zenfolio.
    I sell a lot of photos online and need strong admin options (hands down zenfolio, by far) with a clean design and interface. Since I can't stand the look of zenfolio, I started playing around with the new Smugmug.

    After watching their videos about how proud they were to have rebuilt themselves, I started a trial. Everything looked great. i customized the heck out of it. Got the design I always wanted, then…I had to create an "event" to give my clients the ability to pick favorites. Unfortunately, Smugmug won't let you customize the Event page, so all those customizations I spent hours on are gone when a client goes to the Event page or the Favorites page.

    Major deal breaker. Why wouldn't you allow customizations across your entire site so everything looks consistent?

    So, now I am stuck waiting for someone to figure it all out. Maybe zenfolio's Phase II will address their design flaws.

    Thank you for your feedback. I, like you, would love to see this feature also. While I can't give you a time frame, I can tell you that we agree and will let you know as soon as there are ways to customize events.
  • pilotdavepilotdave Major grins Posts: 764Registered Users Major grins
    edited December 20, 2013
    Ferguson wrote: »
    So for all of you like me complaining about some aspects of the new Smugmug, and might think there is greener grass... better go take a look. Maybe for your needs there is, but so far I haven't found it.

    I complain BECAUSE I can't find anywhere else to go.

    I'm stuck with smugmug. I got frustrated enough to look for an alternative, but like you, I couldn't find one. I don't dislike smugmug, but my opinion of them has gone WAY downhill over the last couple years.

    To me, it's just inexplicable that they can't fix simple bugs in a timely manner (or at all?). It doesn't give me much confidence. New smug is full of bizarre (to me) interface/design features. Like page navigation, making tools more difficult to access, etc. Why does it take more clicks to reach the bulk keyword tool in new smug than it does to switch to legacy mode and then open the tool? I have my new site built and I'd love to start using it, but I just won't unveil until I don't want to maintain my site with legacy mode anymore. But so many things are just so much easier to do in legacy and smugmug hasn't done ANYTHING to rectify that.

    I'm extremely fed up with smugmug. They've taken the new stance that they can't please everyone so they gave up even trying. But I have nowhere else to go so I guess I'll just keep complaining. I want smugmug to be better. I have trouble understanding why they don't seem to want to be better.

    Dave
  • mbellotmbellot Major grins Posts: 465Registered Users Major grins
    edited December 20, 2013
    pilotdave wrote: »
    I complain BECAUSE I can't find anywhere else to go.

    I'm stuck with smugmug. I got frustrated enough to look for an alternative, but like you, I couldn't find one. I don't dislike smugmug, but my opinion of them has gone WAY downhill over the last couple years.

    I have my new site built and I'd love to start using it, but I just won't unveil until I don't want to maintain my site with legacy mode anymore. But so many things are just so much easier to do in legacy and smugmug hasn't done ANYTHING to rectify that.

    I'm extremely fed up with smugmug. They've taken the new stance that they can't please everyone so they gave up even trying. But I have nowhere else to go so I guess I'll just keep complaining. I want smugmug to be better. I have trouble understanding why they don't seem to want to be better.

    Dave

    +1

    Except I'm not even going to look at building a new site until they pull their collective heads out...

    I'm in legacy mode and will remain their until I'm forced to switch or I find an alternative that works for me.
  • AlamethAlameth DWC Los Altos, CaliforniaPosts: 91Registered Users Big grins
    edited December 21, 2013
    pilotdave wrote: »
    I complain BECAUSE I can't find anywhere else to go....

    I'm extremely fed up with smugmug. They've taken the new stance that they can't please everyone so they gave up even trying. But I have nowhere else to go so I guess I'll just keep complaining. I want smugmug to be better. I have trouble understanding why they don't seem to want to be better

    +1

    For many years I ran my own photo sharing site, first using software that I wrote, then using a FOSS package. It was a lot of work, and being a 50-something with a mortgage and a day job and kids in college and almost no free time, my main reason for going with a pay site (as opposed to a "free" site like Picasa or Flickr) was to save time. SmugMug was a dream come true: easy to use, reasonable priced, reasonable presentation, and had every feature I could want. Suddenly sharing my photos when from major burden to a simple mechanical process. I convinced most of my friends to switch over to SmugMug, too, especially the ones who'd had it up to here with Google messing around with Picasa.

    I feel like the "new" SmugMug has reneged on the deal. I've already spent many hours trying to find a default layout, written pages of notes, and am still looking at many many hours of time to convert what I thought was a dirt simple site. And it still will be missing functionality I took for granted before, functionality that will require a lot of extra work every time I create a new gallery. I don't have time for this. I also don't have time to pick up and move somewhere else. And I really don't want to go back to running my own site. But if the pay sites are going to renege on that very most fundamental issue -- not forcing me to spend a lot of time just to stand in place -- then maybe going back to my own site is the best way to go. :-(

    Oh, and one of my friends is pretty peeved right now: after going through the task of migrating her portfolio from Picasa to SmugMug, she has to do it all over again.

    My main feeling right now is despair: can't stay, can't go. And all I want to do is share my pictures!
  • AceCo55AceCo55 Aussie Grinner Posts: 930Registered Users Major grins
    edited December 21, 2013
    Alameth wrote: »
    +1

    I feel like the "new" SmugMug has reneged on the deal. I've already spent many hours trying to find a default layout, written pages of notes, and am still looking at many many hours of time to convert what I thought was a dirt simple site. And it still will be missing functionality I took for granted before, functionality that will require a lot of extra work every time I create a new gallery. I don't have time for this. I also don't have time to pick up and move somewhere else. And I really don't want to go back to running my own site. But if the pay sites are going to renege on that very most fundamental issue -- not forcing me to spend a lot of time just to stand in place -- then maybe going back to my own site is the best way to go. :-(

    My main feeling right now is despair: can't stay, can't go. And all I want to do is share my pictures!

    One of the things to speed up your transition would be to ask questions in the "Customization" forum. There are some amazingly helpful and knowledgeable people there. Just deal with one issue at a time and indicate what you want. If it can be done, they will tell you how and if needed, the code. If it can't be done, there may be an alternative that would be acceptable to you.
    When I started my move to New Smugmug I could not do ANYTHING ... everything seemed impossible or illogical. I couldn't do the simplest of things. And I guess there is often an element of that whenever we start something new. However, with help I have been able to achieve much more that I could on Legacy ... and I feel I am less reliant on the "experts" to make changes to my site now.
    I see you have only two posts and have not sought help on the forum. I would really encourage you to take advantage of the help that IS available. It may save you a LOT of time and heartache. thumb.gif
    My opinion does not necessarily make it true. What you do with my opinion is entirely up to you.
    www.acecootephotography.com
  • AlamethAlameth DWC Los Altos, CaliforniaPosts: 91Registered Users Big grins
    edited December 21, 2013
    AceCo55 wrote: »
    One of the things to speed up your transition would be to ask questions in the "Customization" forum. There are some amazingly helpful and knowledgeable people there. Just deal with one issue at a time and indicate what you want.

    A good solid and supportive reply, thank you. The reason I haven't asked for help was I found answers to all my issues by searching DGrin. Literally every issue I had had already been raised by someone else, many back in July and August. It was an iterative process: find an issue, search DGrin, weigh the solution, repeat. And therein lies the feeling of despair: I am going to have to go through a painstaking review of every gallery and every subcategory, one by one, both logged in and not, with the browser set to different sizes, dragging, editing text, and adding CSS. They're all little things (like the order of items within a folder, thumbnail cropping, my longish subcategory names, or the places I used embedded HTML), but there's a lot of them. It will take a lot of time. And time is the one thing I do not have.
  • David EvertsenDavid Evertsen Regular Grin-Orama Orlando, FLPosts: 524Registered Users Major grins
    edited December 22, 2013
    pilotdave wrote: »
    I complain BECAUSE I can't find anywhere else to go.

    I'm stuck with smugmug. I got frustrated enough to look for an alternative, but like you, I couldn't find one. I don't dislike smugmug, but my opinion of them has gone WAY downhill over the last couple years.

    To me, it's just inexplicable that they can't fix simple bugs in a timely manner (or at all?). It doesn't give me much confidence. New smug is full of bizarre (to me) interface/design features. Like page navigation, making tools more difficult to access, etc. Why does it take more clicks to reach the bulk keyword tool in new smug than it does to switch to legacy mode and then open the tool? I have my new site built and I'd love to start using it, but I just won't unveil until I don't want to maintain my site with legacy mode anymore. But so many things are just so much easier to do in legacy and smugmug hasn't done ANYTHING to rectify that.

    I'm extremely fed up with smugmug. They've taken the new stance that they can't please everyone so they gave up even trying. But I have nowhere else to go so I guess I'll just keep complaining. I want smugmug to be better. I have trouble understanding why they don't seem to want to be better.

    Dave

    I have to agree and have stated to many times to remember.. I have been asked many times by my wife and photog friends why Smugmug after they continue to break working items and make it so hard to get them fixed? Well I am married to them because of Smart Galleries and now with the new design there are even more clicks to create the criteria for it and it seamlessly switches between organizer mode and galleries settings mode that shouldn't happen. I have asked about when the Smart Galleries will be integrated more seamlessly for how they work for me but really not received a reply. I am not happy but have no choice anymore..
  • brotherjugbrotherjug Big grins Posts: 32Registered Users Big grins
    edited June 26, 2014
    Frustrated Zenfolio User
    I have gone back and forth between them all and have settled on Zenfolio, because their back end is by far the best. Especially if you need to host a ton of galleries for client viewing, downloading, printing.

    But, from a design perspective, I am very frustrated with them. I would go with smugmug if it wasn't for their clunky as hell Event system

    Here's some ranting if you're interested:

    https://vimeo.com/channels/768091
  • mbonocorembonocore Social Butterfly Posts: 2,299Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 27, 2014
    Hey Mark,

    Thank you for your feedback. I understand your frustrations with the events tool....when I was a full time photog, I felt the same frustrations. Events are something we know are in need of a facelift. I actually enjoyed your video rant. That is a great way to give feedback, as you can show us exactly what your pains are in real time.

    Thank you Mark.
  • ChancyRatChancyRat Soooo Beginner Grinner Oakland, CAPosts: 2,130Registered Users Major grins
    edited June 27, 2014
    brotherjug wrote: »
    I have gone back and forth between them all and have settled on Zenfolio, because their back end is by far the best. Especially if you need to host a ton of galleries for client viewing, downloading, printing.

    But, from a design perspective, I am very frustrated with them. I would go with smugmug if it wasn't for their clunky as hell Event system

    Here's some ranting if you're interested:

    https://vimeo.com/channels/768091

    Good critique video. I don't use event pages - I'm just curious why there is no other way to set up what you want via a regular page or gallery? What do you need the content to be that only an "event page" can be the tool used?
  • waynerdwaynerd Beginner grinner Posts: 7Registered Users Beginner grinner
    edited July 2, 2014
    Ferguson wrote: »
    While I was working to utilize (and work around) all the new features of Smugmug, I took a tour. I decided to see if I could find another alternative which had similar features (good visual impact with dynamically resizing and rearranging pages), similar price (coming from a "power" user perspective, i.e. near $60/year).

    The short answer was that I could not.

    I tried Zenfolio first, and most extensively. It was easy to set up, worked as expected (except one issue with truncated menu items), was reasonably well documented, was fast. It also was found quickly by Google despite zero (zero!) backlinks from any other locations. But it was dated -- the look just did nothing for me, it was similar to the old Smugmug. Definite step down. Deal killer.

    Squarespace next - nice look, also easily set up though the editing was more arcane in ways. But clearly aimed more at portfolios with limited content, the navigation depth and features were just not set up for archival use. Deal killer.

    Prophoto - a Wordpress template where you find your own host provider (some are really cheap now) and install. Looks very ideal for I.T. oriented types. Except -- even more dated looking than Zenfolio. Very customizable as long as you wanted a 1000 pixel design in the middle of your screens. Asked their support and they said "that's what we do". Deal killer.

    Photoshelter's new Beam - very nice appearance, may be a good alternative but -- $30/mo for 60 GB. That's 6 times what I pay Smugmug, and I'm close to 60 GB already (ok, I need to clean up a bit). The next step up is $50/mo, that's pretty pricy. I didn't try it.

    I also briefly looked at lots and lots of "portfolio" sites which were more aimed at 5-10GB or less of storage, or a few dozen photos. Not what I personally need.

    Flickr, 500px, etc. don't offer customization options that are suitable even if some of their stuff is pretty.

    So for all of you like me complaining about some aspects of the new Smugmug, and might think there is greener grass... better go take a look. Maybe for your needs there is, but so far I haven't found it.

    I'm seriously thinking of developing one and buying hosting. No, not something to compete with Smugmug, but if all I want it to do is be one format that I like, and just house my stuff -- might be viable. If I can find lots of free time.

    But I will say after a week of poking around at alternatives, I like Smugmug better now than when I started, warts and all. headscratch.gif


    Ferguson, thanks for the comparison shopping rundown. Something I felt I should have done before joining here but was too burned out (see below) and after some research just went with Smugmug based on the few options I really need.

    I'm brand new here but definitely not a newbie. I've been a graphic designer/front end web designer for over 15 years. I'm attempting (once again) to make the transition from that world to photography.

    I was looking for a way to offer semi exclusive limited edition prints, oversee the printing while having an easy purchasing option on the website. I initially wanted a photography portfolio website to kick-ass on all websites with all the fancy little finite details that I like when I design websites. The path that lead me here goes like this and may be beneficial to others thinking it's a better way to go. Keep in mind I have my own hosting server and know my way around Wordpress pretty good, or so I thought.

    Because I'm not a programmer I went with what looked like a pretty cool template purchased from Themeforest. Soon I realized it was NOT going to fit my needs, was glitchy and the support for simple questions was atrocious, I'm still waiting for answers in their "support" section and it's been 5 days. (Do NOT purchase the Titan theme)

    I then looked at another newly released theme with Woocommerce support that looked amazing. Yeah, emphasis on "looked". Again, the hoops I would have to jump through just to post a photo for sale in a categorized portfolio was mind boggling. Then I noticed certain things didn't work, by the handful. Meanwhile I was trying to get this done on my long weekend which was essentially blown waiting for, you guessed it, answers from support. Another theme to avoid are the JKreative themes.

    Then as I was sitting in my own pool of frustration I realized that I've been looking at this all wrong as even with my own server, with a maximum storage capacity of 80GB there was no way I would be backing up any highres files to my portfolio, still had to manage every aspect of the printing myself and calculating shipping based on various sizes of prints etc through Woocommerce and Wordpress was looking like a nightmare I'd rather not have.

    I then started the search into other options.

    Zenfolio was out as I tried them a couple years back and was unsatisfied with the overall experience. Templates were lacking, print options limited etc.

    I looked at Squarespace, no Lightroom export plugin. Total deal breaker for me.

    Photoshelter, looked pretty good but the lame storage limits versus cost killed it.

    That brought me here. Smugmug doesn't have every single thing I would like but it's pros outweigh the cons so far. We'll see how it goes. At the time of writing this I just have to upload more photos and mange my price lists but I've made more headway in the past 36 hours than I did in 5 days with the horror story above.

    http://waynestadler.smugmug.com/

    Hope this helps a few decide.
    W
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