SmugMug targets users irked by Flickr
IN MAY, Yahoo riled photography lovers everywhere by revamping its popular Flickr photo-sharing site. The new Flickr offers everyone a terabyte of free storage. It's enough to back up and display 600,000 photos in full resolution.
But the new Flickr eliminated the unlimited-storage plan for new members and dropped a few features of the old Flickr. This infuriated some of the harder-core photographers.
There could be no better time, therefore, for Flickr's rival, SmugMug, to step into the fray with its own revamp, which it said had been in the works for two years.
It zigged exactly the way Flickr just zagged: by offering features that catered to high-end photo buffs instead of offending them.
The mantras of the new SmugMug, which went live on Tuesday morning, are "less clutter" and "customisation".
One will notice the cleaned-up design immediately. But the real fun is lurking in the Customize menu when a user is logged into his account.
"Choose a new site design" opens a palette of 24 new layouts for the SmugMug world. Each offers different colour and type schemes, photo layouts and sizes.
The Customize menu also contains the command "Customize Site", which lets one go much, much further. Users can then hand-tweak every single aspect of every page on their site.
Change the colour and texture of each gallery. Adjust the top, bottom or side margins of the Web page. Add or move navigation buttons, headings, even a map showing where the pictures were taken. Place the Comments box, links to one's Facebook and Twitter streams, and so on.
The point is to take SmugMug beyond simple photo sharing. It's to turn a SmugMug account into the website for displaying pictures - something no other photo-sharing site can match.
That's the good news.
The bad news is that the controls for all of the customisation are dizzying. It's totally fine to stick with one of the 24 canned designs. But if one does decide to handcraft the look of his site, he will have to dedicate serious time to learning the controls.
SmugMug isn't free. It's US$40 (S$51) a year for the basic plan (no photo selling) and as much as US$300 a year for pros who want to run a business selling their wares on SmugMug.
All the plans offer unlimited photo storage.
Fortunately, SmugMug does not have to worry about the masses. It caters to people who care enough about photos to pay for their presentation online.