Introducing NiceNames – August 13th, 2009

Thanks to the persuasive case many of you made, we’re introducing URLs that can hugely boost your search engine relevance. Plus, they’re so simple you can describe them over the phone.

Behold the power of a NiceName:

Old URL:

New URL:

NiceNames can skyrocket your findability (SEO)

Choose your NiceNames well, and your galleries will have much more relevance in searches.

Old URL:

New URL:

How it Works

Every gallery, category, and subcategory on SmugMug now has a NiceName (NN). We pick them for you, based on your gallery titles or category/subcategory names, but you can tweak them. With the exception of galleries set to hide owner, every gallery URL now looks like this:

No worries, the old URLs you’ve given out over the years will continue to work.

NiceName notes:

  • A subcategory NiceName will only be in the URL if your gallery is actually in a subcategory
  • If Hide Owner is set to “yes”, we’ll default to the soulless SmugMug URL you’re used to:
  • If the gallery is Unlisted, it requires the albumID_Key to be included in the URL. That prevents someone from “guessing” the URL and finding an Unlisted gallery.
  • A NiceName must be unique within the subcategory or category it lives in, be a max of 30 characters and contain alphanumeric characters and dashes. No spaces, though most foreign language characters are ok.
  • You can tweak gallery NiceNames in your customize gallery settings. Category and subcategory NiceNames can be tweaked via the Control Panel > Customize tab > Categories/Subcategories pages.
  • An added bonus: category names are now less restrictive in terms of characters they can contain, because the Category NiceName (and not the category name itself) is shown in the URL. You can now have categories called “Jenny’s Favorites” or “Bridal Portraits” without worrying about ugly spaces in the URL or having to leave out the apostrophe.

Critical NiceName gotcha

The albumID_Key part of the URL is optional for public galleries, but we show it by default because without it, the URL is not a true permanent link. If you were to tweak a NiceName, or move the gallery to a different category or subcategory, the original URL will no longer find the gallery unless you included the galleryID_Key as part of it.

Example: If you give your fans this URL to find your pictures:

.. and you later change the category NiceName to “stunning-landscapes”, the above link will not work. However, if you give your friends this link:

… you can reorganize your site all you’d like and the link will still take them to your gallery because they have the link with the albumId_Key in it.

More NiceName info is on our help pages. And, we added a page on helping search engines find your site. (Keep in mind, if you do NOT want search engines to find your photos, it’s as simple as toggling SmugIslands to “No”.)

More in this release

Our SmugMug User Group meetings have been well-attended (thanks for your enthusiasm!) and we’ve added a calendar to our SMUGs pages so you can easily find speakers and dates and times for upcoming meetings.

We also have a new contest for Landscapes lovers, sponsored by the Ansel Adams Gallery. Enter your best images.

Finally, no release is complete without a few updates and fixes:

  • Backprinting now includes the filename of the source image by default. Pros with custom backprinting won’t see any change.
  • Your Control Panel comments pages are now paginated and the numbers should properly increment.
  • Fixed a bug where the slideshow viewing style hid the fullscreen slideshow button if printing was disabled in the gallery settings.
  • Fixed a bug with both the fullscreen slideshow and gallery slideshow that was causing it to hang.
  • Updated our video player so when it’s embedded it’s no longer darkened before playing. Now you can see the video preview image more clearly on the page.
  • Updated the video player in the gallery to show the share link at the end only if you have easy sharing enabled. If you want to hide that link in an embedded video, you can modify the url to add ‘se=0’.
  • Fixed the error that was being thrown occasionally about return type in our slideshow and video player.
  • Improved the way our favorite in-browser uploader handles filenames with spaces in them.

Published by

Chris MacAskill

co-founder of SmugMug

33 thoughts on “Introducing NiceNames – August 13th, 2009”

  1. Excellent work as always! Thanks for continually adding features while other (and large) paid photo hosting sites seem happy to add a new search screen and call it a year.

  2. Nice feature but I seem to have lost the Share button?! Nothing else was changed. The Share option is selected in gallery custom page yet the link disappeared?!

  3. It seems the body class “notLoggedIn” is being output even when you are logged in. So some of my attempts to hide buttons are broken.

  4. Also having problems with the “popular photos” – In both of these cases you get a message – “Sorry, there are no popular photos” – 1) The “most popular photos” gallery isn’t working and 2) If you click on any of the photos on my home page from the “most popular photos”. 😦

  5. Would be nice if this NiceName crud had actually been tested prior to this release.

    You’ve screwed up Stats, emailing links to galleries and now gallery title creation.

    What’s next?

  6. Great Job !!!!
    I love the fact that you guys are always looking for ways to improve SmugMug.

    I love the release notes and the status updates that keep us informed.

    I realize it is hard to anticipate all problems associated with upgrades but I have to say that I love the prompt response to rectify any problems.

    The Dgrin forum is simply fantastic, I can’t say enough about it.

    Keep Up the GREAT WORK !!!!!


  7. @Doug: Thanks!

    @Macy: We continue to actively work on stats. I’m sorry it’s taken longer than you (and we) would like!

    @Alexf and Robin: We think these problems will be fixed shortly. Sorry for the confusion in the meantime! Thanks for alerting us to the issues.

  8. @cosgrave studios: Better now?

    You had “” in your Control Panel as your custom domain, but that spot is reserved for domains set up via CNAME record to point to your site. You have that domain set up to redirect to . That’s fine, but you need to leave it out of your Control Panel. Otherwise we think is valid and it’s not!πŸ™‚

  9. @ghealy : Oh if you only could see what a huge change this was, you’d know we’ve spent weeks and weeks and sleepless nights testing this incessantly. There are bugs, but our sorcerers are hot on their tails and we’ll get things sorted out. Sorry for the inconveniences in the meantime! This feature was long awaited by many many of our customers and we see at as a valuable addition to the site. It was just a difficult one to add!

    Please email the help desk and elaborate on the issues you mentioned, if you can. I’m not sure those are issues we’ve seen reported.

  10. Thanks Bobe, it’s working now. I had changed the cname setting, however because that domain is a subdomain on my server it wasn’t directing properly throughout the site so I had to use the redirect. I didn’t think about resetting the custom domain afterwards. Thanks!

  11. Good work as usual guys! There’s some stuff broken now, but I’m heading over to dgrin to see if I can find the fixes. You guys keep improving SM, we’ll try to keep improving our photos!πŸ˜‰

  12. Thanks for this change folks! It’s going to take me a little time and experimentation but I think this will make a big impact on my SEO. I did a quick test this morning and I can see a big improvement. Thanks again.

  13. Question: If you link to the old pages, are they 301 redirected to the new pages? Also, will the smugmug subdomain redirect to the pro custom hostnames anytime soon? (real redirect not javascript, so search engines see the redirect)

  14. Excellent! SM is first in leading edge improvements as always! Just hope I can keep up with the new enhancements and fixes. But enjoy trying.

  15. It would be *great* if we could have create separate passwords first level nice name urls – and have them work for cname URLs as well as the style urls. I support different groups, and it would be very useful to give 3 or 4 different groups their own passwords (share family with family, share school with school people, but don’t let them see other stuff), etc.)

    I know that there are ways with private urls, and collections to try to get the same thing going, but it is much much more complex. Having even a limited number of sub-passwords in parallel (say 5) would be huge for me.

    Thanks, Michael

    PS – it looks like fanphare offers this feature, and brags about it, so I am thinking their market research has connected with some broad level of interest (although I’m sure you know more about them than I do).

  16. Thanks for making this happen. I don’t usually see this kind of response to suggestions for product improvements and that’s one of the reasons I remain so loyal to SmugMug in a world with so many photo sharing sites.

  17. Hey guys

    Nice job with the Nice Names. One thing: we noticed the ## of page views reported in Google Analytics has dropped substantially since this release. I suspect that the AJAX loading of images isn’t being recognized by Google Analytics as a page view anymore, or if it ever was. I see that the number of visitors in Google Analytics looks accurate, but Page Views is way way off than since before Aug 22. Are you aware of any impact on Page View stats in Google Analytics since this release?

  18. NiceName for some Nightmare for others.
    How can I keep my gallery structure secure and prevent users reaching other galleries by deleting parts of the url. So far, that has been impossible.
    Hide Owner is a bad option because it’s kill the look&feel.
    When your gallery is within SubCategory, your category name (now NN) is parent of the url, and anyone can delete part of your url and reveal your category structure. (If your galleries are unlisted’ they will not show up in the ‘Sharegroup’

    With the new NN, it’s even easier for viewer to exploit the Category.

    Can you add ‘Random URL’ option or at least give me the option of not using NN in galleries without killing the design, (Hint: if I delete the NN filed, it means that I don’t won’t one).

    Other than than, keep up the good work and lets roll with those coupons and packages.

  19. @Udi : Unlisted galleries should show up in Sharegroups just fine, and I’d definitely recommend making any gallery you don’t want visitors to stumble upon unlisted!

  20. Hi there! I love that we’re working on animoto and smugmug integration, I have a few suggestions after messing around w/ the integration that will help improve the process that much more:

    * Add the export high res to smugmug option (currently can only export the web version to smugmug, have to manually upload high res version once it’s created) not sure if animoto or smugmug would need to configure that or both
    * When in animoto doing an import from smugmug, if the gallery has watermarks, it pulls the watermarked images, it should pull non-watermarked images (or at least give the option to). I don’t want to have to recreate entire galleries or remove the watermarks on my current galleries just to get this to work properly, seems that it should be easier to just have it import from the originals instead of the smaller sizes
    * I don’t think that the create animoto link should be in the buy section, I have disabled the print purchasing feature on all my portfolio galleries but want to be able to make videos of all them. I think it would be better to put it up under tools -> many photos -> export to animoto so regardless of sale setting on a gallery we could still export to animoto.
    * Currently if I do an import from smugmug when in animoto for a gallery that is all videos, it pulls screen shots of the videos from smugmug, not the videos themselves. Considering animoto supports video uploads, you would expect it would import videos, but doesn’t, not sure which side the disconnect is on for this feature

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