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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.

 

Release Notes: Watermark Improvements, Gallery Privacy Tweaks and In-Line Info Editing

March 25, 2014 32 comments

Wondering what’s new at SmugMug? Here’s the latest on the most important and noticeable changes you’ll see around your site.

The Privacy Name Tweak

We’ve made a small change to the names of your various gallery privacy options. Instead of “Public,” “Unlisted,” and “Private,” you’ll now see the following, designed to remind you who gets to see your gallery at each setting:

  • Public
  • Unlisted (Anyone with the link)
  • Private (Only Me)

Remember: This doesn’t affect the functionality of these privacy settings, so there’s no action needed on your part. We just wanted each setting to be crystal clear to everyone in one glance.

Limit Watermarks to Larger Sizes

If you’ve ever wanted your big, beautiful photos watermarked but don’t want your gallery’s photo tiles showing it, this one’s for you! You’ll now find a new option in your custom watermarks manager that lets you set a minimum display size onto which they will be applied.

For example: Suppose your homepage displays your photos in grid format with “Medium” sized thumbnails. If you don’t want your custom watermarks showing on them, you can set the “Smallest Size” setting for your watermark for Large and up.  Clean thumbs, FTW!

Plus, the SmugMug default “Proof” watermark will now only apply to “Large” display sizes and up.

As always, changes you make to your custom watermarks don’t automatically show up across your site. So if you want to begin using this feature, be sure to re-apply watermarks to your photos in bulk. (Hint: Your site-wide organizer can help you with this.)

Add or Change Titles, Captions, and Keywords On the Fly

You can now quickly add or edit your photo details (title, caption, and keywords) in the new SmugMug while you’re browsing your galleries, all without opening a gallery menu or the site-wide organizer. Click on the little pencil icon that appears when you mouse over the area under your pics to open a quick editor. Then type in your text.

Find it here:

When clicked, you’ll see this:

This simple text editor will appear in galleries of SmugMug and Journal styles, as well as in any Lightbox in all gallery styles.

Hot tip: This also works on mobile, so you can tidy up your site without being tied to your desk.

Other fixes and improvements:

  • Maps  now allow you to use your mouse scroll to zoom in and out.
  • We’ve combined your photo map and your photo info (EXIF) panels for a single, clean info panel.
  • We’ve dramatically sped up the amount of time it takes for us to generate custom image sizes that you request.

That’s all for now. More soon!

The Non-Photographer’s Guide to SmugMug

March 12, 2014 Leave a comment

SmugMug was born and bred by photography lovers, but this doesn’t mean that SmugMug can’t be great for everyone. SmugMug is an awesome place for people from all walks of life, and we feel strongly about photography being an essential part of your life — no matter what you do.

So what’s the benefit of a photo website for people who don’t “do” photography? Easy! A beautiful and safe place online to keep everything that’s important to you. Whether you’re a mom, a student, a lawyer, a small business owner or a chef, your photos (and videos) are how you get your message across to other people.

If you or someone you know didn’t think you were pro enough for SmugMug, here’s a list of reasons why we think we’d still be a perfect fit.

Spitfire Coffee in New Orleans, LA

1) You can show off big, beautiful photos.

From XS thumbnails to edge-to-edge huge, SmugMug is based on huge, gorgeous photos that show off every pixel of what you do. Even if you’re not a photographer, big pics have a place: as a background image on your homepage or in a sample gallery that shows off your cooking, your offices, your portfolio of what you do best. No matter what your profession or what you love to do, we’re pretty sure that it’ll look great in pictures.

2) Build completely custom pages for anything you want.

Custom web pages let you create anything you dream up on your new site: price sheets, About Me, directions to your storefront or anything else you want your visitors to know about you. Fun facts? Easy! Lists of your favorite vendors? It’s a snap. Here’s a little tutorial that shows you how to do this via our easy drag-and-drop design, so you can build any page you can imagine.

20×20 Studio‘s beautiful portfolio website

3) Automatically get easy-to-read URLs.

In addition to being able to grab your own custom domain, you can make sure any page on your website has an easy-to-read link. We call them NiceNames:  easy, readable, search-engine-friendly URLs that make it drop dead simple to tell someone where to find your website, even if  you’re not at your computer. Pssst: they look great on business cards!

  • Example: http://www.macaskillphotography.com/Newborn/Diego-4-Months/

Martin Sundstrom Design‘s beautifully branded website

4) Tie together every page with your brand.

Whether you’re the head of an internationally-reknowned restaurant or you just love the colors blue and green, your website should reflect your brand. SmugMug gives you dozens of one-click themes to match virtually any mood, and the ability to create your own if you don’t find what you love in the list. And if you’ve already got a logo designed for you, set it across all of your galleries and pages so your visitors know that you’ve got your act together.

Here’s a page that shows you how to do this, and you can take a look at some beautiful examples of uniquely branded sites right here.

5) Never have to worry again about site stability & bandwidth.

Once you’ve done all the work of building your new website, the last thing you need is for it to max out when too many people visit! Not at SmugMug – we’ve always offered unlimited bandwidth and traffic because we believe that photos are meant to be shared. We’re backed by Amazon and use the most cutting-edge technology to be sure that your pages load blazingly fast, no matter where you or your viewers are. Want proof? Our site status page is always open to you: http://status.smugmug.com

Example of a family genealogy site. Learn how to archive here!

6) Complete flexibility in how to structure your site.

You can create whatever kind of site you want, from simple to complex to deep. SmugMug’s flexible organization lets you nest folders inside folders up to 7 levels deep, meaning you can organize your photos, videos and pages in a million different ways. And you can create as many folders as you wish, with more folders or galleries inside each to make the nested hierarchy of your dreams. Perfect for perfectly organized family history, your children’s lifetime in photos or anything else you do. Best of all, you can easily manage them with a clean, beautiful drag-and-drop site-wide organizer.

So what do you think? If you’ve got a website for a non-photography lifestyle or business, we’d love to see it! And if you’re still not yet sold, check the sites above to get inspiration and see what you can build.

Happy customizing!

Link list:

How To Avoid Leaking Sensitive Photos

February 7, 2014 19 comments

Stories are breaking on sites like Fstoppers and Brandsmash about private Boudoir photos that appeared on a creepy voyeur forum.  It’s hard to imagine a more humiliating nightmare for a photographer or their clients.

Photo Used With Permission From Je Revele Photography 

Photos came from several sites, including SmugMug, and we paid extreme attention over the last two days to how it happened.  We tried to take some comfort in observing that in every instance, it came down to passwords that were guessable in just a few tries.

The question for us was what could we do that we weren’t already?  Over the past year, we’ve done considerable work around this problem, but yesterday we decided to expose some of the alerts our systems generate to our customers.

When our systems see several password attempts on a gallery or folder, they now send an email to the owner of the SmugMug site.  It identifies the gallery, gives the first few digits of each password attempt with asterisks for the rest (bou***), and adds info like time of day and geographic location the request may be coming from.

Today our Support Heroes are receiving thank-yous from people whose family members couldn’t get in because they left the caps lock key on or forgot some aspect of the password “it’s a cap O (oh), not a 0 (zero)”.

And we read two help tickets from photographers who discovered that their boudoir galleries had password guessers.  Fortunately, they had long passwords that were too hard to guess, but they are still making changes like removing the word Boudoir from the title, and making the gallery Unlisted so only people who obtain the link can know of its existence.

One of the security upgrades that came with New SmugMug is we don’t store passwords in a form that could leak in any way, including a systems breach, a bug, or a disgruntled employee. We use an industrial grade, Cryptographic hash function.

The breaking stories are about Boudoir photos, but we host incredibly sensitive photos (all cloud services do) of unannounced products and even, we remember, photos of an upcoming TIME Person of the Year.

Best Practices:

1.  Set a good gallery password before uploading photos!

2.  Set galleries and folders to Unlisted.  Unlisted means means no one can see them unless they have somehow been given a link.  They cannot guess the link because it has a random string added to its URL.  The combination of strong password + Unlisted is extremely secure.

You can learn more about how to protect your SmugMug galleries here.

We hope this helps, and thanks for being part of the SmugMug family!

Chris & Don MacAskill

Founders

Did Someone Order a Full-Screen Homepage Slideshow?

December 19, 2013 21 comments

Many of you told us that the full-screen homepage slideshow was essential to your website. We’ve got something new we think you’ll love: A full-screen slideshow for your pages and galleries!

How does it work?

We’ve added a brand-new background tab to your site customization, which means you can easily add a single image, a series of single images or a slideshow as the background of your homepage.

Additionally, Power, Portfolio and Business users can add unique backgrounds to other  pages on their site: Folders, Galleries and Pages. This background sits behind the other content blocks that you’ve added on the page, exactly the same way that a color, texture, or graphic added from the Theme tab currently does.

How do I get started?

1) Open up your Customization and look for the new “Background” tab in the Customize panel.

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2) Choose where your new background will show. By default, your ‘background’ will be inherited from your entire site  but you can display something across every page on your entire site, have it live just on your homepage, or make it appear on every single Folder or gallery page.

3) Choose the background type. To add a full-screen slideshow to your homepage, open up the drop down menu to choose the Slideshow option.  Be sure the “Homepage” location is selected, too:

Note: Choosing “None” will evert your background to whatever is set in your Theme.

4) Save your new goodies by Publishing your changes. That’s it!

Can I customize those slideshow options?

Of course! You can set:

  • your images
  • playback speed
  • transition type and speed
  • a splash image to be used to entertain your viewers while the full slideshow loads

What else can I do with the new Background tab?

You’re not just limited to slideshows. Choose the “Photo” option to add an edge-to-edge photo to the background. We recommend setting it so that your visitors see a new image each time they visit your site!

To do this, create a gallery of background images, or select photos from several different galleries on your site. Opting to change the photo “every visit” gives your site a fresh new look each time your fan comes back.

Tip: Be sure that your selection of images play well with your text colors!

Is there anything I should watch out for?

These background images sit behind all of the content blocks on the pages to which that you add them. They will lie under your navigation menus, Galleries Blocks, Text Blocks, and so on. To avoid a completely cluttered experience, we recommend that you remove existing content blocks from your page if the slideshow is the focus of that page.

Is it available on MY SmugMug account?

Yes! Once again, all SmugMug users will be able to add background images or slideshows to their homepage. Power, Portfolio and Business accounts (levels that include additional customization options) will also be able to change the background content on any page on their site.

Where can I learn more about the new Background options?

If you still have questions about this feature, our brand new help page is there to help you. So are our Support Heroes!

So sit back, enjoy the (slide)show, and let us know what you think in the comments below. Don’t forget to share what you’re designing, too, as part of our ongoing Show Us Your SmugMug contest. :)

Release Notes: Scope Your Search, AdSense Content Block, Organizer Filenames

October 24, 2013 10 comments

It’s that time again, happy SmugMuggers! Here’s a quick update on what we’ve updated and fixed over the last few weeks.

Choose Where to Search

This is just what the doctor ordered for all you folks who want to cordon off your viewers’ searches to a specific portion of your site. Now when you click the settings you can choose exactly which folders and galleries get searched using the input in this field.

So, for example, if you took several galleries’ worth of photos on an epic world vacation 2013, fans who are looking for photos of “elephants” in India won’t dig up photos of elephants from your local zoo. Keep in mind that the regular search tips apply, so be sure you’re up to speed.

Tip: This new setting applies to the Search Box content block ONLY, and not to the search box that appears in your site header. That one will continue to search only the page that you’re currently viewing.

NEW AdSense Content Block

We’ve never forced SmugMug customers to display ads on their site, but we do have a fair number of business customers who wanted the ability to display paid ads to their own viewers. Due to popular demand, Power, Portfolio and Business accounts now have the ability to add Google Adsense units to any page on your site using the new AdSense content block.

You can add up to three of these blocks to any page, but please refer to your AdSense Terms of Service for specific information about what you should and shouldn’t do. Enjoy!

Filenames in Organizer

You gave us a lot of feedback about those thumbnails you’re seeing in your site-wide Organizer, and how you wanted to be able to see the filenames for each and every one. It was one of those “Why didn’t we think of that?” moments, so now we’ve added in a toggle for your organizing pleasure.

Find it in the upper right corner of the browsing pane of your Organizer.

Two Slideshow Improvements

Thanks to your feedback on our forums, we’ve added a randomization option to your Slideshow content block, found under the “Display” tab of the block settings. So now you don’t have to decide which photo gets seen first.

We also brought back edge-to-edge, full screen slideshow displays. This applies to the big slideshow that appears after you hit the “full screen” button in any gallery style as well as the Slideshow content block. Note that this applies only if you have Originals enabled in the photos’ gallery settings and if your Original photo resolution is large enough to stretch across the screen. We also won’t stretch (AKA distort) images to fit screens, so you may still see some letterboxing if your image isn’t the perfect shape.

Miscellany

Last but never least, here are our top picks from the mix of other fixes:

  • Added back “Sharpening” settings for Power User accounts.
  • Properly updated the preview URL when you click Hide Owner.
  • Fixed stuttering video playback in some public galleries.
  • Photos in passworded galleries with external linking “Off” will display properly when collected and used as featured photos.
  • Gallery privacy levels (unlisted, private, passworded) are shown in all gallery picker windows.

Till next time. Keep the feedback coming!

Release Notes, fixes and more

August 8, 2013 148 comments

A huge, heartfelt thank you to all of you passionate readers out there who’ve shared your thoughts about the new SmugMug. Whether you’re Tweeting, Facebooking, Dgrinning, emailing or posting comments in our blog, we really do read every single response (even if we can’t always reply personally to every one). Change inspires great feeling in all of us, and it’s been a wild ride seeing just how the new features and tools have affected so many of you.

Since launch day we’ve been hard at work helping you get settled, cataloging your feedback, tweaking and polishing and making things that much better for you to use. So here’s the first batch of updates that gives you a closer look at some of the things we’ve shipped in the last week.

Gallery Comments are back!

When we launched, your gallery comments didn’t migrate with your photos, but we didn’t just chuck them into the trash. Now when you drop in a comments content block, click the wrench in the corner, choose a source and pull in all your previous comments from, say, your legacy guestbook gallery:

Show Off to embed slideshows

You’ve asked for an easy way to embed your photos into external sites, so we brought the Show Off feature into the new SmugMug. When you’re logged in as owner, you’ll see the “Show Off” option in the lightbox view, from the social menu. You can customize a beautiful slideshow of virtually any size to embed in webpages:

Show Off and post an embedded slideshow

Events & Favorites

We’ve gotten a lot of feedback about this feature in the last week, so thank you to everyone who helped us track down and iron out the bumps. We have:

  • … fixed issues your clients sometimes had saving and removing Favorites.
  • … made it so that Event slideshows play perfectly again.
  • … fixed an obscure bug so that all top-level folders display reliably in the Events gallery picker.

Video improvements

  • Slicker, smoother video playback.
  • “Auto” streams a juicy 640×480 and up.

Misc improvements

  • Are you in the EU? You’ll feel at home with our new, rule-abiding cookie consent bar.
  • Presented a cleaner, new crop page on preview mode and unveiled sites.
  • Upped the maximum number of Multiple Photos to 48.

Misc bug fixes

  • Site Meta Title and Description SEO tools use YOUR text (not ours, unless you leave these blank).
  • Tidied up the logged-out view of comments box.
  • Passwords stick to your galleries, even if you move them into Public folders.
  • Fixed navigation into Categories on legacy Sharegroups.
  • You can set pricing on galleries before you’ve even filled them with photos.
  • Gallery descriptions are visible to anyone with permissions to view your gallery.
  • You can sort your Collected images in the Organizer.

Enjoy! As always, please don’t be shy about sharing what you love, what you don’t, and what you think doesn’t look quite right.

More soon,

The SmugMug Family

Smug Tip: The No-Hack Custom Page Tutorial

August 5, 2013 42 comments

If you’ve been with SmugMug for a while, you’ve probably earned a badge trying to create non-gallery pages using Advanced Customization. Anyone with a website needs to create pages that don’t necessarily have lots of photos on them: About Me, your mission statement, your pricing, etc.

Before, you had to copy and paste complicated code to hide parts of your gallery page, then hand-type in HTML to get what you wanted.

With the new SmugMug it’s as easy as drag, drop and go. Here’s how to do it in 3 simple steps.

PS. Creating Pages is a customization feature available on Power, Portfolio and Business accounts. If you’re a Basic user, you can customize your homepage using any of the Themes and content blocks we provide, but you may not find all the options listed below.

Step 1: Create your new page

First, create the page you want. If you want to create an About Me page, for example, start by hitting the Organize > Create > Page button in your header.

Give it a name, keywords, settings, whatever you wish. Hit the Done button in the top left of your window to save.

Tip: Your new page will appear at the bottom of your folder tree list when you open up your site Organizer. You can drag it into any other place (like into a Folder) if you want it elsewhere.

Step 2: Customize it

Find the page that you just made. You can do this by typing in the URL for it, or you can click the link from the preview window in your site Organizer.

Once you’re at your new page, open up customization from the header: Customize > Customize Site. To confirm that you’ll be applying changes to just the one page (and not your whole site), look for the following folder list at the top right:

Personalize the page however you wish. You can change the Theme if you want a different color scheme on this page versus any other part of your site.

Don’t forget to browse through the many different content boxes from the “Content” tab and drag the ones you like into the middle, the side, the bottom, wherever you want onto your page.

Tip: A light green box will appear in any spot that can accept a block. If you miss, we’ll show you a dotted outline mapping out where valid areas lie on the page. Experiment and have fun!

Step 3: Link it

Remember that you get an instant, live preview of everything you’re doing, but to clear the windows away just click the Preview button, and “Done” when you’re finished.

Copy the URL for the gallery from the top of your browser page, and click to highlight the top-level, “Entire Site,” option from the top right.

If the site design you’ve chosen comes with a menu bar, click the little wrench to open the edit box.

Tip: If your design doesn’t include a menu bar, Power, Portfolio and Business users can add one by dragging and dropping in the “Menu” content block from the Content > Navigation section.

Click the little + sign to add a link to the menu.

Fill in the copy you want, and past in the URL for the new page you just created. Click Done.

That’s it! Your new page is happy, gorgeous and accessible to all.

Give it a try and let us know what you think. And we want to see what kinds of amazing pages you’re designing, so don’t be afraid to show us what you’re building.

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