SmugMug or Zenfolio?

Discussion in 'Personal and Professional Photography Websites' started by invisible, Jun 10, 2008.

  1. invisible

    invisible Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I'd like to leave Fotopic for a superior website. I've narrowed the search down to SmugMug and Zenfolio. For those of you guys who have tried both websites, which one do you prefer?

    Thanks in advance for your help.
     
  2. jg123

    jg123 TPF Noob!

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    I haven't tried both but have been in contact with smugmug a few times asking questions and they answer promptly and completely. I have also heard good things about their quality control.
     
  3. invisible

    invisible Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Thanks jg, that's good info.

    I've just realized that the chances of anybody having tried both websites is pretty slim (which may explain the lack of replies here). So I now redirect my question to people who are familiar with both websites. Which one do you prefer? Reasons?

    Thanks again for your time and help.
     
  4. scole

    scole TPF Noob!

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    You can search some of the other forums on the 'net (Dpreview's comes to mind) and find some people who have tried both and their thoughts on each.

    I have not tried Zenfolio but just finished building my Pro website on Smugmug (see signature). I had a standard account with Smugmug and enjoyed the experience enough so I elected to go with their Pro account. I will vouch for their customer service which has always been prompt and helpful when I've sent an email. In addition to Smugmug's "official" help, their message board of users are extremely helpful and willing to help people with their problems.

    I personally think SmugMug's pages look better than Zenfolios. With their Power or Professional Accounts, you're able to completely customize your site's look. Using their tutorials and user tips, I have a website that actually looks like what I want. I've also been able to add Statcounter and Google's Analytics so I'm able to monitor site visits and activity.

    All SmugMug accounts offer up some level of statistics about your photos and the hits they receive. You can tell to what level visitors view your photos (thumbnail, small, medium, etc). One "knock" against SmugMug is that member's websites may not index as well in Google as they should. I don't know the specifics but it has something to do with the way SM has designed their site...

    If you compare the details, both sites are very close so you probably can't go wrong with either. I tried to visit some Zenfolio sites and just didn't like their look & feel. Your mileage may vary. :D

    Good luck-

    Steve

    [2013 Update] Don't mean to revive an old post but I still get a fair amount of hits from this thread, even 4+ years later. Anyways, I just wanted to note that I'm closing my Smugmug site and now have a site with Photoshelter. Smugmug served me well for the last four years but, over time, the ability to customize the site (and their now dated look) frustrated me so I looked elsewhere. Lastly, their recent price increase for "pro" accounts narrowed the $$ gap between them and Photoshelter so I made the switch.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2013
  5. invisible

    invisible Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Hey Scole, thanks much for your detailed post. I have finally decided for Zenfolio but – as you say – both are good choices. Thanks again!
     
  6. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Out of curiosity, why do you want to limit yourself to what either of those companies think you need? Why not rent yourself some space and set up your own website?

    From what I see of them (and other similar) the only thing that they really give you is the e-commerce modules, and I'm not convinced that's all that useful. Yes, many of us have images for sale on our website, but how many do we really sell? Certainly I don't have so many orders that filling them by e-mail/PayPal isn't more than adequate, and I can have what I want where I want and how I want on my website.

    Just my $00.02 worth - your milage may vary.
     
  7. invisible

    invisible Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    My goal is not selling, although I'm not going to reject orders if they come in :). I just wanted a well-designed space to show friends and family my humble attempt at photography, which is not my livelihood but a hobby for me. Since I'm absolutely clueless when it comes to HTML and such, I assumed – for $25-$40 – that websites like SmugMug or Zenfolio were the most efficient, almost tailor-made solution for me.
     
  8. TrickyRic

    TrickyRic TPF Noob!

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    Once again I apologise for the plug, but can I throw Picture Postbox into the equation? It's free and although still largely in development, is slowly becoming more socail. Members can find your galleries through the news system and/or the album listing, and get to leave comments on images.
     
  9. scole

    scole TPF Noob!

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    I don't expect much sales from my website as well- I know that I'll have to shake hands or sell at some art shows. I wanted a good looking site that I could customize but do so in an easy manner. I do consider myself fairly "techy" but really don't feel like dealing with a host site and uploads, etc. SM gave me what I wanted in that respect.

    You are correct- I could just handle sales via the PayPal route but PayPal makes me nervous. I've used it for eBay purchases but their "verified" user process is a joke so I'm very hesitant to jump on board as a seller with them. SM handles the shipping and any problems with print orders so I felt that it was worth their 15% cut. :)

    The site is just a piece of the overall puzzle..
     
  10. invisible

    invisible Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    scole, some very nice images in your website. "Gray Day Reflected" and "Sunset Snag" are the ones that come to mind.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2009
  11. trigeminal

    trigeminal TPF Noob!

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    My take on this is:

    Zenfolio

    Pros
    - Very elegant and easy to learn backend
    - Many easy to use "themes"
    - Generally less expensive pricing then Smugmug @ the mid and pro levels
    - Professional sounding name (may be a plus point if you aren't using your own domain)
    - Multiple level "folders" for pictures (can go as deep as you'd like, like a traditional computer structure)
    - Very little downtime

    Cons
    - Thumbnails a bit smaller and harder to see
    - Slower loading time in some international destinations (this was tested via some friends/relatives I have in various locales)
    - No Video support on any plan

    Smugmug

    Pros
    - Video support
    - Some very elegant themes
    - Full ability to customize the site with Java/CSS/Html - however requires knowledge in this coding format
    - Fast loading website
    - Allows collaboration between you and your users, so users can email you photos which will be uploaded directly to the site. Very useful if you are displaying photos mainly to friends/family
    - Much better iphone support (allows direct uploading of videos/photos) + third party apps allow you to sync all your folders to your iphone

    Cons
    - More expensive mid and pro plans (which also have video support)
    - Has had multiple episodes of downtime recently (however they are working on it, and hopefully this will not be repeated)
    - I found that the subcategories took a little bit longer for me to get used to, and they weren't as intuitive as the folder method
    - Can only go 4 layers deep for your photos
    - Backend not as easy to use/figure out as Zenfolio. I really had to click around multiple times to find what I needed to do, whereas I picked up the Zenfolio system very easily (yes I realize this is subjective).


    I should preface it by saying that these were not the only choices I evaluated. I also tried pBase, flickr and a range of other choices. In the end the financially less expensive option (flickr - free to $24/year) also was the hardest for users to use (really hard to get an easy to use gallery view) and found that you also got lower quality images. Whereas Zenfolio and Smugmug allowed you to let your viewers download the original quality photo.

    In my opinion they were both leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. So either choice you make will be a good one.

    Both are excellent choices however, and from what I've read both have very response support teams. I encourage you all to use the 14 day trial period both are offering (no credit card details required) so you can test them out for yourself.

    If you'd like $5 off any Zenfolio account please feel free to use my code: 9MS-YYH-CBP

    For $5 off Smugmug try: MjmiE0xAHBhwQ
     

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