|Website Home Page|
SmugMug recently launched a fresh and modern interface offering their customers a set of new web design templates along with a comprehensive set of customisation tools. This new launch came at a timely moment as I was giving some thought to my existing website design and the desire to bring a new lease of life to it. I have been very happy with SmugMug as a photo repository and as a front end to my website but the interface for customisation was a little difficult and required the writing of various scripts to achieve what I needed. The new SmugMug allowed me to completely revamp my design with ease and also had the advantage of offering a wonderful, cascading menu system to organise access to my many photo galleries. In a few hours I managed to re-arrange my photo galleries into logical folders of my topic choices and this in combination with a personalised customisation of the menu system got my site to where I have wanted it for some time. My home page of the website now shows a selection of photos with a clean menu bar at the top. A useful addition from SmugMug here would be the addition of a "randomiser" function so random photos could be displayed. I manually change the from page every week to maintain a new look and on the plus side the new customisation tools allow me to do this in a few seconds. There is a useful "Search" button allowing users to search the site for specific keywords or topics. All my photos are key-worded so it should be easy to find photos on a specific topic or keyword. Social networking links to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and my blogsite are also directly accessible at the top right of every page on the website. Users can read my bio or directly e-mail using the "Contact" button on the main menu.
Prior to the re-design I had only one main portfolio of photos accessible via SmugMug, other private galleries being hidden. In the new design I now have the portfolio as before but now have a pull-down menu under projects to open up specific project topics with multiple tiered photo galleries under this menu. It is very easy to change and modify the menu system to add new categories and new photo galleries in a matter of a few minutes.
|Cascading pull-down menus allow easy and quick access to photo galleries|
After navigating through the menu bar to the photo gallery the individual photos can be viewed in much the same way as the earlier version of SmugMug. The user can page through the gallery, view the photos individually or go to slideshow mode to view in full-screen mode.
|Individual photo gallery|
As my site is a full SmugMug Pro commercial site I have this set up so users can purchase the images in a wide range of formats including prints of all sizes and different media such as paper, canvas, thinwraps and metal finish. You can even gets many other types of products such as printed mugs, T-shirts, magnets, tiles and postcards. Digital downloads of images are also available. Simply click on the "ADD TO CART" button to add any item and choose the preferred media. All items will be shipped to the purchaser or in the case of the digital download option directly downloaded to the purchaser's computer (minus the watermark!). I have full control over the pricing of all items on the site - SmugMug takes a cut to facilitate the commercial handling of purchases as well as the printing and shipping - this is a great deal as it let's me focus on my photography. I can generate special pricing options site-wide or for specific photo galleries as well as being able to generate discount coupons to give to customers and promote my site. All in all a very comprehensive and easy to manage system.
|Purchase prints, merchandise or digital downloads|
I have now added a new "Video" section to the website with a large number of video slideshows on a wide variety of topics. You can watch these full HD video slideshows in full screen which is just beautiful!
|Video page with many video slideshows to view|
As in the earlier version of SmugMug I can have hidden private photo galleries and allow specific password access to these for customers. This is very useful for example when doing a private commercial shoot for a client I can provide them full access to that private gallery to review and then download finished images directly.
|Public or private galleries can be created with individual privacy and customisation settings|
I am extremely pleased with the new SmugMug interface and it has certainly brought a new lease of life to my website and will now allow to grow and build this site as well as being able to easily and quickly customise the look and appearance of the site to maintain a fresh look. It's not often a major software product launch such as this goes so smoothly and I am very impressed with how well this upgrade went with hardly a issue. I'm sure we will see further exciting developments with SmugMug as they receive user feedback over the coming months.