SmugMug And SmugDesigns

After recently writing a review on using SmugMug with ProShow Web, I found out about SmugMug’s custom website service. I was pretty interested in trying this out since it seemed like it would be a great fit for photographers who wanted a simple way to use the images they already had in SmugMug galleries as an online portfolio they could show to clients.

Using SmugMug galleries
From my perspective, being able to dynamically add and remove images from the galleries is probably one of the most compelling reasons to use SmugMug custom websites. Keeping images on a photography website fresh is always such a chore, but with the ability to add and remove images using your SmugMug admin tools, keeping up-to-date work on the website is a lot simpler. Plus with SmugMug galleries, you don’t have to resize your images before you upload, which can be an irritation with other gallery software. The bottom line is that the SmugMug galleries are easy to manage. I can’t remember a single time where I was frustrated with SmugMug’s gallery management tools.

Hosting and URL
If you want to avoid the extra effort and expense in purchasing a domain name and hosting for your website, you can actually just have your website hosted by SmugMug. The URL will just be your regular SmugMug custom URL (ie larissaphotography.smugmug.com). If you’ve already shared your SmugMug link with your customers, they’ll automatically see your custom website the next time they visit. If you’d like to use your own hosting or domain name and you’re wanting to pull images and videos from your SmugMug galleries, the custom website designers can do that too.

Hi-def videos
SmugMug isn’t just about images. They can handle your videos too, and that works well for me because we’ve been doing more fusion work recently. The icing on the cake is that they accept hi-def video. With videos, I’ve found that bigger is definitely better. I can watch the same video in regular size and in full-screen, and the full screen version always has more impact. Of course, you don’t want to have customers watch your videos in full-screen if there’s going to be a lot of pixelation. Using SmugMug’s hi-def videos you don’t have to worry about that at all.

The Process
To get my custom SmugMug website designed, I worked with Joe from SmugDesigns. I gave him the general look I was going for, then emailed him my SmugMug login info and my logo, and he started designing. He was good to return my emails quickly. We had a lot of studio work going on, like I’m sure most of you do, so I wasn’t always able to respond back to his emails immediately. I think we could have had the whole website wrapped up in a week or 2 had I been more prompt about responding. After I got the info for our pricing and about pages to him, Joe and I emailed back and forth tweaking the design until everything was exactly how I wanted it. Joe was always very professional, and I’m glad he was there to help me out because I was completely clueless about how to do the customization.

The result
I’d say Joe did a pretty amazing job with the SmugMug website. You can check for yourself at http://larissaphotography.smugmug.com/ . The website was designed specifically for seniors, and I think the design is a good fit for that audience. The site is easy to navigate and is media-rich with big photos and videos. The galleries do a great job showing off our work thanks to SmugMug’s high quality images and videos. If I were a senior, I’d schedule a session after seeing our new website.

Special SmugMug offer
I love saving money, and my guess is you do too. I got permission to extend a special offer for anyone interested in getting a SmugMug Pro site and using SmugDesigns for the custom design. Use the coupon code “SmugDesigns”, and you’ll get 20% off your first year with SmugMug and an additional 20% off the price for SmugMug Customization from SmugDesigns. SWEET!

Feedback and questions
What do you think of the custom designed website? Likes or dislikes? If you have any questions about SmugMug’s custom website design, I’d be happy to answer any questions I can or get SmugMug to answer the stuff that’s really hard.

For more information on SmugMug custom websites, visit: http://www.smugmug.com/customize

For more information on SmugDesigns, visit: http://smugdesigns.com

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6 Responses to “SmugMug Custom Website Review”

  1. Great Info, I have been looking for a good website template for my photos and this looks like a good possibility.

  2. Berend says:

    Hi Larissa,

    Thnx for the info, I am still trying to learn about SM, and Ive been with them now for the 2nd year… 2 small things, on your senior site, how do people contact you?
    And also, I was able to ‘collect’ your ‘about’ photo, and put it into one of my own galleries! You should perhaps lock it, don’t ask me why I was able to do that but I could. ( i clicked on the photo, then there was the option to collect into one of my own galleries). I deleted it of course, but I double checked and it was there. Cheers from Holland, Berend.

    • TJ McDowell says:

      Berend,
      Thanks for the suggestions! I thought I did have a contact page…maybe that got lost in the shuffle. So you’ve got my picture in your gallery? Does that make you a stalker? =) Thanks again for bringing those things up!!

  3. I have a Smugmug Pro account, and I’ve spent countless hours trying to customize it. I’m not very knowledgeable when it comes to using code, so it’s been laborious trying to get the site looking the way I would like it to look. I’m very tempted to enlist the assistance of a custom website service!

    • TJ McDowell says:

      Angela,
      If you’re wanting to customize your Smugmug website, I’d definitely recommend farming it out. I was a web programmer before becoming a full-time photographer, and customizing didn’t look too easy to me either. One of those tasks that you can pay to avoid a headache maybe =)