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Photo Tip: 4 New Easy-to-Swallow Lightroom Tutorials

July 9, 2014 1 comment

We’ve talked a lot about Lightroom, and not without reason. We think it’s one of the best, most powerful tools any photographer can use to organize, edit, and get their photos online, and it’s connected seamlessly to your SmugMug account so you can sync your online and offline photos easily.

But with great power often comes complexity. You may be nervous about diving in if you’ve never used Lightroom before, so that’s where our friends over at KelbyOne step in.

Beginner-to-Expert Lightroom Tutorials by KelbyOne

KelbyOne was founded on approachable, down-to-earth education for photographers by photographers, and they specialize in teaching about Adobe products. So there’s no better person than Education Director Matt Kloskowski to create how-to videos about something they know inside and out.

We’ve added these videos to our growing library of helpful (and totally free) resources over on our SmugMug School website. So take a look and get ready to become an organizational pro.

Enjoy!

 

Smug Tip: Take Your Photos Further With These Smug Features

July 2, 2014 1 comment

SmugMuggers come from all walks of life, which is something we love to see. Whether it’s weddings, kids, cats, trucks, races, bikes, mountains, flowers, architecture, travel, or cat trucking races (hey, you never know), there’s room for you at our table.

There’s so many features built in to every account, you may not realize how some of them could really take what you’re shooting to the next level. So today here are a few of our tips on Smug features you may want to use, depending on the things you most love to shoot.

Family Snappers 

Does your heart and soul stay close to home? Photos are proof that you and your family have truly lived… and had fun! But we don’t always want those photos to fall into the wrong hands, or for your favorite memory to get lost in the jumble.

• Privacy settings. Be sure to occasionally log out of your account and view your SmugMug galleries as a guest. Are the galleries you meant to be unlisted truly hidden? What happens when you log out and view a passworded gallery? Remember that you can review all the different privacy options available to you via your Account Settings and individual Folder and Gallery Settings, or from our help pages.

• Folders and Galleries. The new SmugMug gives you the ability to nest your folders and galleries 5 levels deep, meaning you have up to 7 layers of organization available to you. Move your content so it makes the most sense to you, whether it’s organizing your photos by child, by event, or even by year. Or a combination of everything.

Client-Seeking Pros

If you’re putting your business online, there’s a few things we recommend that you do to have maximum impact with your potential client base. Remember: It doesn’t matter whether your profession is photography or not — SmugMug’s great for businesses of all types.

• “Best-of” Galleries. Even if you’re a chef, your site should show off what you do. Whether it’s in pictures or video or text, your incoming clients are going to want to get a taste of what you do and what makes you unique. So create a gallery or a page full of content blocks that visually delivers your elevator pitch.  Upload your best, or Collect and curate them from other galleries around your site. Don’t forget to link to it from your menu bar, so it’s easy to find!

• Contact Forms. We still can’t believe how many websites we see that make it difficult (or impossible) to contact the owner. Simply put: If you want people to hire you, compliment you, or otherwise tell you you’re awesome, be sure that your email address or phone number is clearly visible at the top or bottom of your homepage. Shy about spam? SmugMug gives you a safe, ready-to-go contact form for your footer, which you can also place in your menu bar.

World Travelers

You may not keep track of which time zone you’re in, but you should always remember where you took those photos. How else would you find your way back to that perfect beach, or where you got those great noodles?

• Maps & Pins. If you take photos on your mobile phone, or if your camera is already set up to geotag your images, great! Your photos will keep their locational data when you upload to SmugMug. Or you can add locations manually by going to your Photo Tools. Once that’s done, simply display the map anywhere on your site.

• Text Content Blocks. A photo may be worth a thousand words, but a few lines about what you did and how you got there sure never hurts. The content blocks you can drag onto your homepage and custom pages are a great start for Power, Portfolio, and Business accounts, but all users can simply fill in the Title and Caption fields under every photo.

The Socially Savvy

Social media is great, but you really don’t know how long your content will exist on there before it gets deleted. You can easily build a forever home on SmugMug and style it to point to all the places online you like to hang out.

• The Social Designs. Put all your cards on the table with our default “SmugMug” design, or (if you’ve got a Power, Portfolio, or Business account) the similar-looking “Dash” design. Both of these let you set a profile pic and display your name, a cover photo, and list out your favorite social network icons.

• Share Buttons & Comments. These are two simple content blocks you can drop anywhere on your site to help your visitors share your photos with friends and engage in healthy discussion. Did you also know that you have styling options for your social media buttons? Be sure to check the individual settings.

• Publish to Facebook. If you’d rather post your pics directly in Facebook, try this feature. You can apply a custom watermark and choose the maximum file size to be copied over into its very own album on Facebook, so they can see the whole set, but you’re still protected from image theft.

Event and Sports Shooters

If your adrenaline gets going when the competition does, you probably have a fair number of galleries holding some of your most exciting photos… which can quickly get unruly and out of hand. The key to staying in the game is to stay organized, and be sure that every single subject in every photo can be found.

• Keywords. This is arguably more important for sports photographers than the photos themselves. Seriously though, you’re going to want to keyword your images not just with the event you shot, but with location, date, and even player name if it applies to your shoot. Your clients will thank you. Just don’t forgot to display a search box or a keyword cloud so they can take advantage of it.

• Site-wide Organizer. Like the family tips we mentioned above, proper organization via SmugMug’s 7 layers of Folders and Galleries are invaluable when it comes to busy event seasons and the many different things that you shoot. So be sure to structure your site clearly and easily, simple enough for you, your assistants, and your clients so that they can find exactly what it is they’re looking for.

Those are our tips and we hope that, no matter what you shoot or how long you’ve been with SmugMug, you discover something new. And if you didn’t, tell us – What do you take pictures of, and what features have you used to make the most of it?

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Link roundup:

Smug Tip: 6 More SmugMug Features You Didn’t Know You Had

June 24, 2014 6 comments

Not too long ago, we wrote a post unearthing some of the great features you’ve already got in your SmugMug account. And since we’re always having new photo-lovers come join our family, we thought we’d share a few more things that you may not have noticed are already living amongst your photos.

Here’s to those sneaky features that may be hiding in plain sight. Enjoy!

1) Custom Video Preview Images

All SmugMug accounts can accept video files of 20 minutes in length and 3 GB in size, which is a great addition to the still photos you capture in your life. But did you know that you can change the preview image that displays on it, so your fans can see something more interesting than a random frame before they hit Play?

First, decide on a JPG image you want to use… or better yet, create one in your favorite image editor and upload it to your SmugMug galleries. Then just navigate to your video in the gallery, click the wrench, and choose Edit > Replace Preview.

2) “Sticky” Cover Photos for Your Folders & Galleries

In the same vein, you can choose a cover photo that appears every time your gallery is shown on your site. We call this your Feature image, and it will “stick” every time your site is reloaded, instead of displaying the first photos in the gallery.

Just open your Gallery Settings and look under the Basic tab. Click the icon next to Feature Image and choose any image you want to represent that gallery.

Tip: You can even do this for passworded galleries, which typically don’t show any thumbnails for privacy reasons. However, you may want to do this for, say, your client galleries, just to be sure they know which gallery is theirs on your site.

3) Stats. Really Great Stats.

We track all kinds of good stuff, like which of your galleries and images have been visited the most, as well as show you where your traffic is coming from. Just check out the Stats tab in your Account Settings and take it from there! You can read more about your SmugMug stats on our help pages.

If you prefer, you can always sign up for a free Google Analytics account and plug in your unique user ID into the same tab of your Account Settings, to double-check our work. Here’s how.

4) Search (and Filter by EXIF)

Any time you (or your guests) search for things on your site via the Search content block or from SmugMug.com/search, you’ll see lots of beautiful photos that you can scroll through to your heart’s content. But did you know that you can hit the “Refine Results” button at the top and open up dozens of additional checkboxes? This will help you narrow down your choices and find pictures taken using just the criteria you specify.

Watch out! It’s strangely addictive, so you may end up spending a lot more time discovering photos than you expect.

5) PicMonkey: Free Photo Tweaks

If our in-gallery Photo Tools aren’t quite enough for you, check out our friends at PicMonkey. You can find them right under every photo, under the Wrench icon. Open it up and you’ll see all the great tweaks and mods you can add to your photos!

Tip: We even have a quick video tutorial all about PicMonkey.

6) Discounts Just for Being Smug 

That’s right. You’re in great company when you’re with us. You can browse and view the discount details simply by logging in and visiting our ClubSmug page. Shop, have fun, and tell them we sent you!

Link roundup:

Photo Tip: 5 Reasons Why We Fell in Love with Lightroom

June 4, 2014 113 comments

It’s been a while since we’ve talked about our love for one of the best photo tools on the market, Lightroom. We’re going to share some of our favorite things about it that knocks our socks off and why we hope you’ll give it a try, too. Plus, if you’re just scared about diving into the Adobe pool, we’re giving away 4 (signed!) copies of Scott Kelby’s fantastic instructional book, The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Book for Digital Photographers, at the end of this post.

So keep reading to see how you can win yours!

Now, here are our top 5 reasons why Lightroom’s awesome.

1) Keywording Is a Breeze

Keywords are a small, but important part of getting your photos properly searchable. Whether you’ll be looking through your own galleries or hoping to cash in on sales sparked by Google, keywording is how you get there.

While SmugMug has great bulk keyword and caption tools, adding them during your Lightroom workflow is a step saver and has the added benefit of adding the keywords to the photo’s metadata.

You can enter keywords using the Library module, and even apply them to batches of photos all at once. The best part? Lightroom will automatically suggest keywords you’ve used before when you start typing.

And yes, these keywords and captions will transfer over to SmugMug when you publish.

2) No JPGs Required

Unless you’re new to SmugMug, you probably already know that we’ve got a free Publish to SmugMug plugin available in Lightroom. (You can download it here.)The fact that it doesn’t cost a cent is pretty great, but even better is that you can easily Publish your photos to new or existing galleries on your SmugMug account, all without needing to create — or store — a separate JPG file on your computer’s hard drive.

Try the easy, one-click syncing between your Lightroom catalog and your SmugMug folder structure. We’ll worry about your JPG storage so you don’t have to.

3) Everything’s Better in Bulk

The greatest power of Lightroom is how easily it lets you do sweeping changes to swaths of photos at once. Presets, flags, and anything you can think of — you can add them with just a few clicks and get your event photos out the door and into your clients’ inboxes in no time.

Check out this post that Adobe educator Matt Kloskowski did for us to help sift through your massive photo piles with ease.

4) Easy-to-Replace Proofs

Pro photographers, this one’s for you: When your client orders prints from your SmugMug galleries and you’ve set up Proof Delay, did you know that you can use Lightroom to quickly polish, edit, and republish only those photos back to your SmugMug galleries before sending the order to the lab?

We think this is the biggest lifesaver for any photographer who knows their clients will buy only a few photos out of thousands. Rather than editing every single photo from the shoot, simply upload your proofs and let them make their choice.

Tip: Take it a step further with Events & Favorites. Lightroom will sync their Favorites galleries and pull their choices back into your catalog, making it even easier for you to edit (and republish) just the ones they love best.

5) It’s Always Improving

Adobe’s always making their products more powerful and better for you, and we are, too. Both Lightroom and the SmugMug plugin check automatically for updates, and you’ll notice this when you open up the program and see that window.

What we’ve added recently: The ability to choose your gallery’s Featured Photo via the plugin, and the ability to create/edit/delete Quick Settings, Watermarks, and Printmarks. And lots more.

You can always check to see the updates we’ve made to the plugin on the dedicated page in our help pages.

The Book Giveaway

As promised, we’ve got 4 signed copies of Scott Kelby’s best-selling Lightroom 5 bible to give away, The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 Book for Digital Photographers:

This comprehensive book covers everything from basic sliders to Scott’s own workflow, and is the #1 Lightroom book on the market (with good reason). So if you’re ready to get this into your hands and begin your journey to becoming a Lightroom wizard, simply leave a comment below and include these two responses:

1) What are the biggest stumbling blocks in your photo editing workflow?

2) A link to your SmugMug website (so we know how to reach you if you win)

We’ll choose 4 lucky random winners on Wednesday, June 11th, 2014, and announce them right here.

Stay tuned, good luck, and watch this space!

UPDATE 6/11/2014: Winners! We randomly picked 4 winners who commented here and here’s who we drew:

We’ll be in touch with you individually to deliver your books. Congrats!

The All-New, In-SmugMug Photo Editor

May 21, 2014 44 comments

If you’ve used our photo editing tools since we launched the New SmugMug you’ve probably noticed that our new look didn’t stretch beyond the surface. Many of our owner-only features still displayed the old legacy look and feel.

We’ve been working on it! So today, in addition to giving your photo tools a makeover, we’ve gone one step further and combined a few of the best owner-only features into one easy-to-use screen.

What Does It Do?

Our new Photo Editor lets you edit photos (and videos) that you’ve already uploaded into your galleries:

Where To Find It

You’ll find your new photo editor under any single uploaded photo or video, right in your gallery. You’ll see “Open in Editor” as the first option under the wrench icon.

Or, edit multiple photos at once: Open up your site-wide Organizer and select the photos you want to tweak in the preview pane on the right. Then click the wrench icon. Any of the photo editing options you’ll see there will automatically take you to the new Photo Editor. Presto!

“What About Video Files?”

You’ll still be able to open the Photo Editor for your video files to edit your Titles, Captions, Keywords, as well as geographical info.

However, the other options you’ll usually see for photos aren’t available for videos.

About Your Originals…

Since keeping your original files archived is (and always has been) super important to us, we’ll display a confirmation window any time changes you’re making here will affect your originals, such as cropping and the application of color effects.

Tip: If you’re unsure, we always suggest that you make a copy of the image first, then work on that. You can always delete it if you change your mind.

“Is It Available On My Account?”

Yes! All accounts from Basic to Business get this feature, with the exception of the Watermarking tools, which are only available at the Portfolio and Business levels.

You can read all the nitty-gritty details about the Photo Editor in our updated help pages.

Enjoy quicker, easier editing for everything you shoot!

Link roundup:

Photo Tip: 4 Tricks to Get Your Photos Done in Record Time

May 19, 2014 Leave a comment

Procrastination gets the best of us, but what’s the point of taking photos if they’re going to die unseen on your hard drive? Most of us can blame “time” as the reason we don’t sit down to edit our photos, but with a little foresight, you can kick that habit to the curb.

Here are 4 tips we recommend to make processing less of a process.

Get out and take pictures. You’ll capture great memories, and using your camera will become second nature.

1) Do Your Homework

Did all-nighters work for you when you were in school? Maybe, but the majority of us would probably admit we got better grades when we completed regular assignments.

The same goes for photography: staying up to date on techniques and shooting regularly will keep your brain (and hands) in tip-top shape. Also, look around for inspiration and techniques that fellow photographers are using, so you keep pushing your boundaries. The more experience you have – and the more often you take in new info – the better prepared you’ll be for when things go awry.

Downpour on the wedding day? Did your strobes conk out? No problem!  Being able to adjust in the moment will help your exposures come out right the first time—requiring less tweaking once you get them off the camera and onto your computer.

Knowing how to properly set up your strobes and camera settings pays off when you get back to your computer!

2) Get It Right Straight Out of Camera 

If you’re doing the above, you’re that much closer to getting this trick done, too. Getting the perfect shot in-camera (often shortened to “SOOC”) will drastically reduce the amount of time you have to pixel peep, polish, and tweak.

You’ll probably need to do final adjustments in post, such as adjust white balance, contrast, or sharpening, but you’ll save time with the big stuff.

And this is the beauty of digital – unlike film, you can take as many shots as you need to get it right without accruing additional costs.

Lightroom does everything from one place: organize, edit, keyword, publish, and more.

3) Use Lightroom

It’s no secret that we seriously love Lightroom. Why? You can use it to import, organize, tag, and edit all your photos and seamlessly publish them to your SmugMug galleries. In short, it does everything.

We’ve posted a couple of how-to’s about Lightroom in the past, and we won’t stop now. Take a look at one of our most popular articles with Kelby Media educator Matt Kloskowski, and this brief video by CreativeLive teacher Jared Platt that shows you how to publish directly from Lightroom to SmugMug.

In short, doing all your work in one program and being able to publish and sync between your local files and your online archives is a true time-saver we can’t recommend enough!

Quick Settings: Just one of many “set it and forget it” features you get at SmugMug.

4) Let SmugMug Do the Rest

Once your photos are safely in your SmugMug galleries, you can make us organize your photos with virtually no extra heavy lifting by you. Here are a few of our favorite “set it and forget it” features that speed things up and get you on your way:

  • Quick Settings. Create “templates” for gallery settings, like watermark style, largest size, and whether or not viewers can purchase your photos.
  • Smart Galleries. Automatically curate new photos into existing galleries as you upload them.
  • Price and Sell. Choose products and set a markup so fans can order prints direct from your website.
  • Events & Favorites. Share these with clients to let them tag favorites and display them all in a personalized, private gallery.
  • Our 30-day Print Guarantee. For everything else that can possibly go wrong with wowing your fans, leave it to us. We have a fabulous 30-day guarantee on all of our print and gift orders, meaning that  we’ll replace or refund the order if you (or your clients) don’t love it.

We hope these tips ease your worries and get you shooting, sharing, and digging right in to your backlog of photos.

Happy editing!

Link roundup:

6 Smug Features You Didn’t Know You Had

April 21, 2014 6 comments

There’s so much to SmugMug that even those of us who’ve been members for years have trouble summing it all up in a single elevator pitch. So it’s perfectly possible for you to have never known some of the great features that are (even now) lurking in your galleries.

Here are a few of our favorites.

1) Smart Galleries

Your galleries can automatically display photos that you choose.

Lots of SmugMuggers use our Collect Photos feature. But did you know you can set your galleries to automatically collect certain new photos you upload to your site? You do this simply by defining Rules and making your gallery a Smart Gallery. We’ll do the rest.

Smart Galleries are perfect for curating pics for your homepage slideshow, populating individual player galleries from team photos, displaying your newest snaps, and so many more applications we can’t even listen them all. Try it now!

There’s a lot you can do with just your keyboard.

2) Keyboard shortcuts

SmugMug’s easy to browse with one hand. Really! When you’re viewing a gallery you can hit the following keys to open the Lightbox and change the image size that you’re viewing. Here’s the list:

  • Left/Right Arrow = Prev/Next Photo
  • Shift + Left/Right Arrow = Prev/Next Page of Thumbnails
  • A = Bring up Lightbox view, Autosize photo
  • S = Lightbox, Small
  • M = Lightbox, Medium
  • L = Lightbox, Large
  • 1 = Lightbox, XL
  • 2 = Lightbox, XL2
  • 3 = Lightbox, XL3
  • O = Lightbox, Original
  • X = Exit Lightbox

Give it a whirl, and bookmark the help page in case you want to refer to this list later.

3) System Pages

Just 3 examples of totally customizable system pages already included in your SmugMug account.

You may not realize that you’ve got a few very special pages up your SmugMug sleeve that you can access by simply typing in these words to the end of your SmugMug URL:

  • 404
  • Date
  • Keyword
  • Password
  • Popular
  • Search
  • Browse

These don’t appear in your site-wide organizer because they can’t actually be moved around, but you can customize them with text, your logo, and other content blocks when you have a Power-, Portfolio-, or Business-level account. Perfect for adding your warm and sunny personality to every corner of your site.

Check out some previously published tips and ideas for making these system pages your own.

4) Opacity Slider (Power and up)

Find your opacity (alpha) sliders in your Theme’s “Advanced” tab.

You can run with any design right out of the box, but one of the best benefits of SmugMug is the ability to deeply customize your site. And there’s so many options available to you, like the ability to change the color – and opacity – of different sections like your header, sidebars, body, or footer.

Just like how rugs define a space in your room, so do these areas of your page. Setting a section color and changing its opacity (or “alpha”) goes a great way toward making your custom themes stand apart from the crowd.

Don’t be shy: dig into your Themes, click that Advanced tab, and get playing!

5) Filename display

Display your filenames for easy previewing in your sitewide Organizer.

The Organizer may be the best thing we’ve launched since sliced bread, but did you know that you can toggle the display of filenames under your thumbnails? This is a handy trick to see exactly how your images are being sorted. Combined with the browser function Command+F, you can quickly find any file in any gallery.

Find it in your sitewide Organizer, any time you’ve highlighted a gallery and have the photos displayed in the preview pane on the right. The toggle button is the little square with the line under it at top right (shown above).

6) Multiple Designs to Create and Use (Power and up)

This user has created 5 totally different looks for their SmugMug website and can swap them with a click.

You can customize any number of our site designs and swap between them whenever you wish. We’ll save them all in your account and you can access them when logged in, any time you click Customize > Choose a New Site Design. No extra charge!

This is perfect for indecisive photographers who can’t decide if they want a huge background slideshow or an organic collage of their portfolio pics on their homepage. It’s also great for festive folks who shoot calendar-based events and want to serve up a different look every season.

Just remember that when you switch designs, customizations like content blocks won’t transfer between them. However, new pages, galleries, and any other content you add (A.K.A. stuff that’s visible in your sitewide Organizer) will.

Tip: If you do create multiple designs, we recommend that you give each design a unique, descriptive name so you always know what it is. “Copy of Isis” is not very helpful. “4-Column Homepage (White Theme)” is.

We hope you dig deeper into your SmugMug sites and discover something new that makes managing your memories easier and more fun.

Enjoy!

Links to love:

Making Watermarks Easier Than Ever for Pros

April 3, 2014 9 comments

If you haven’t already heard, we recently released some new options to the way you apply watermarks to your images, but we’ve gone ahead and taken it one step further.

In the New SmugMug, you can now create, choose, edit and apply your custom watermarks all from a single location. Gone are the days of choosing your logo image from within a gallery, then tweaking it in your Account Settings.

Your New Home Base for Watermarks

You’ll still open your Account Settings to see your watermarks alongside your other pro branding tools. But now you’ll find a gorgeous, brand-new, edge-to-edge interface with a large sample photo in center, and all your watermarks in a column down the right-hand side:

Click any of your watermark previews to try it on for size. Or click the “+ Create” button at top to select a new graphic (that you’ve already designed and uploaded) for use as a fresh new watermark.

There’s even a handy button at the bottom to change the sample image to something brighter, darker, or vertical. This is a great way to get an idea of how the orientation or brightness of a photo will affect how your watermark looks.

 

And as always, you can hit the universal wrench or trash icons under each of your existing watermarks to edit and delete them, respectively.

Check out our updated help pages to get the complete details about watermarks and how they work. You’ll also notice that we’ve changed the way you edit Printmarks in exactly the same way, since Watermarks and Printmarks are very similar features.

Watermarks, in a nutshell

New to Watermarks? Here are a few important things to know:

  • New custom watermarks default to size Large and up. You can specify a different minimum size in the settings.
  • Watermarks are nondestructive, so your prints won’t include them.
  • Watermarks will need to be re-applied to your photos to display any changes you make.
  • You can have as many different watermarks on your site as you wish.
  • Watermarks are available on Portfolio and Business accounts only.

About SmugMug’s Printmarks

And if you’ve never used our Printmarks feature and are intrigued to try it, here’s a quick rundown of what they are:

  • Printmarks are like watermarks for the physical prints you sell.
  • Although we recommend you use large graphics to ensure your Printmarks print well, they are limited to covering a small fixed percentage of the print area.
  • Printmarks are great for applying your artist signature, a team logo, or a wedding date to your prints.
  • If you change your mind, Printmarks can be removed during Proof Delay.
  • The Printmarks feature is also available on Portfolio and Business accounts only.

So if you were looking for an excuse to freshen up your Watermarks and Printmarks, now’s the time! We hope that these changes make it more enjoyable and easier to manage the nuts and bolts of your photography business.

Let us know what you think! And, as always, stay tuned because there’s always more good stuff coming down the pipes from Smuggy HQ.

Links to great pro business tips we’ve shared:

 

Behind the Build: SmugMug’s Color Picker and Why It Works So Well For You

March 28, 2014 Leave a comment

Have you ever wondered about how a particular feature at SmugMug came to be built? Thousands of happy photo lovers log in and tweak their websites every day, but there’s more to the site than just the buttons you hit. So we’re going to take you behind the scenes and shed a bit of light on how we dreamt up – and sweat over – the details that you’re probably using every day.

Today we’ll take a closer look at the color picker – that little box that pops up when you’re tweaking your Themes, font colors and other hues in your personal palette. Think it’s just a clear-cut click and run? No way!

The Impulse

Ye olde Easy Customizer on legacy SmugMug

Years ago, back when the “easiest” option to personalize your site was the Easy Customizer, our lead engineer had an idea: What if we could shorten the amount of time people spent picking colors that matched? What if we built a system that automatically knew the best complements to the hues you liked?

Best of all, what if we could just make it visual, easy process instead of forcing people to squint at code, risk mistakes and break their websites?

This is how you customized color in legacy SmugMug

We wanted to take the work out of customization and make it fun for you to create something beautiful. So we coded up something bigger, better, and a whole lot smarter.

The Idea

The color picker is more than just a pretty swatch:

Custom themes in the New SmugMug: Just click once

You’ll find it any time you open up and edit a Theme. Take a closer look and notice that when you click on any point in the square, we’ll automatically pick a contrast color, text color and any other subtle elements that show up best based on the color you’ve chosen.

Whether you love dark or light, you don’t have to stress about choosing the best tones that will catch the eye. Text is automatically easily readable, and you probably won’t even notice that we’ve picked almost a dozen other elements as highlights. The amount of contrast needed on these secondary colors should be just perfect to avoid your viewers getting jabbed in the eye by something too dark, too bright, or too loud.

Example of a dark theme and light accent colors

Example of a light theme and dark accent colors

How it Works

When you pick a color on the swatch, we consider that a mid tone and map out similar colors both brighter and darker than that, with just the right amount of contrast between each. We’ll then assign numbers to different parts of your SmugMug site (like your text, the background, your buttons, the border colors around your images, etc) from 1 to 30, and so on.

As a result, your SmugMug site becomes a big paint-by-number, and each spot gets filled in with the colors we’ve calculated. The best part is that in doing this, we’re automatically writing the CSS in the background for it all, so you don’t have to.

If you’re the codey type and want full control, you can always override our choices by clicking on the color choice box and choosing your own. Or by using your own CSS, of course. But it’s definitely not required – just let our systems do the heavy lifting for you!

Unique Challenges to Overcome

While the above theory sounds great on paper, it required quite a bit of tweaking before we shipped it onto your sites. So we spent time adjusting the algorithm to be sure that everything looks good 100% of the time… no matter what color you pick!

Here were the two biggest challenges we encountered:

  • Users choosing medium-tone saturated hues from the color picker resulted in themes that looked garishly bright and super contrasty. Why? Choosing bright colors like kelly green throws off our calculations of complementary colors. We had to temper this and build special algorithms to deal with bright hues like that.
  • The art of calculating complementary shades is not the same when working with dark themes as it is for light themes. As you go from black to light, there’s a point in the middle where the math flips. Case in point: A light border shows up nicely on a dark background, but dark borders look best on light backgrounds. So how do we anticipate where in the spectrum that happens? This took additional tweaking to fix.

See It in Action

So we invite you all to go and play with your Themes, click around and watch what happens when you choose your favorite colors in the picker. Because Power, Portfolio and Business accounts all have the ability to create (and edit) as many themes as you wish, we encourage everyone to get playing and witness all the beautiful, effortless possibilities our color picker creates for you.

 

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