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SmugMug Review: Customizable Design, Unlimited Storage
by Laura Hicks -  9/18/2013

Recently, SmugMug revamped it's interface to offer users a very customizable experience. The new templates are clean, modern and easy to use, but will their recent face-lift attract new users even though there are no free image hosting packages? Read on to find out!

Unlimited storage is quite attractive--almost as attractive as the new interface of SmugMug, a user friendly image hosing and storing website targeted toward those with a passion for photography. Although SmugMug was a bit slow to update their site with a more modern look, the recent update has more than made up for the delay. SmugMug currently has 24 design templates from which to choose. The basic design templates are great if you would like to create a website, post your images and quickly make it available to your audience without skipping a step. Or, if you would prefer, after choosing a template you can customize that design to your heart's content. It's easy and takes a few minutes to design the photo website of your dreams.

The new SmugMug is not just for professionals. In fact hobbyists, enthusiasts and semi-pros can all see the value in sharing and promoting their images in style. SmugMug has 4 image hosting choices: Basic for $40 per year, Power for $60 per year, Portfolio for $150 per year, and Business for $300 per year. Those photographers not looking to sell their images online will be happy with either of the first two options. However, if you are looking for a hosting site that allows you to sell you images and set your own pricing, the latter two options will better fit your needs.

What's so great about the new SmugMug?

Besides the simple and complex customization that is available, SmugMug automatically resizes your site in order for optimal viewing no matter what device you are using. No more funky looking photo websites with skewed text or images when viewed on a smartphone instead of a 24-inch computer screen. SmugMug's design allows your website to be viewed on any size tablet, smartphone or computer screen and sizes the site properly.      

One of the greatest aspects to using SmugMug is 24/7 real live-human support. Yes, that's correct. One of their "Heroes" is just an email away. Although SmugMug is currently experiencing a backlog of emails due to their redesign, the Heroes will respond to you as quick as possible. If you have a basic question you might even be able to find help in their video tutorials.

Want privacy and control over your images? No problem. With SmugMug you can password protect, watermark, unlist, and/or right-click protect your images. For professional photographers, those controls are priceless.

If you purchase either the Portfolio or Business package you can sell your prints and create your own pricing. If you want even more control over your pricing, choose the business package to have custom price lists for each client. With the business package you can also have advanced marketing and branding features.  

Uploading your images is a breeze. Like many other competing sites, a simple drag-and-drop upload functionality is present. You can also store video on SmugMug. Videos are limited to 20 minutes and 3 gigabytes, but that is far greater than the current Flickr video limits of 3 minutes and 1 gigabyte. Organizing your images is also easy, although I would really like to have intuitive facial tagging like you see in Facebook. Well, if I'm dreaming I would actually like to have complete intuitive tagging. For example, if there is a tree or waterfall in my image I would love for the site to tag that image (after asking me, of course) for quick recall in the future.

Sharing your images and albums is also simple with the new SmugMug. You can share via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Wordpress and Pinterest. You can choose to keep the sharing private or open it up to the public.

You list a lot of positives, Laura. What's not great about SmugMug?

You get what you pay for with SmugMug. Actually I think you get more than what you pay for. But if you are looking for a free image hosting website then you will have to look elsewhere. However, you can always try SmugMug before you buy a hosting package. SmugMug offers a trial run of their websites for 2 weeks. If you like it, great--pick the package that best suits your needs. If not, you're not out any money. It's as simple as that.

Conclusion

It's hard to find a bad feature with the new SmugMug design. I was able to set up my professional website in less than one evening. The best part is I can continue to add to my site or adjust features as needed. As a pro photographer I am able to set up private albums for my clients to view. They don't have to worry about others peeping at their pictures without permission.

If I wasn't a pro, I might take a second to decide if $40 a year is worth it. But ultimately, the ability to have unlimited photo uploads wins out. Add to that you will never, ever see one ad on your site and it is so worth the cost.

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