SmugMug vs Zenfolio

SmugMug vs Zenfolio: What Software to Use

SmugMug vs Zenfolio: what is the best portfolio website builder? SmugMug boasts of customization, SEO tools, decent photo quality, customer support and design. Speaking of Zenfolio, it is a great marketing platform providing users with maximum affordability and simplicity.

Both platforms belong to the leading photography hosting websites and are popular among professional shooters. They allow creating and managing qualitative portfolios.

In general, SmugMug, as well as Zenfolio offer all the necessary features and enable photographers to develop a website from scratch.

What Is SmugMug?

smugmug logo SmugMug was one of the first photo-sharing and image hosting platforms that appeared on the net. For today, it provides a wide range of features and services for shooters. It is suitable for professionals engaged in various photography genres (studio, wedding, event and so on), as well as amateurs working at home.
Many photographers choose SmugMug to host their photography portfolios. It is an optimal variant if you need a customizable gallery for your digital images or you want to sell them online. 
Moreover, the SmugMug website can host an unlimited number of photos and video clips. Finally, thanks to its convenient design, customization, flexibility and powerful professional tools, SmugMug is chosen by many shooters.
  • smugmug interface
  • smugmug interface
  • smugmug interface

    SmugMug: Strengths and Weaknesses

    + Helpful SEO tools. The thing that distinguishes SmugMug from the competitors is its SEO capabilities. You may customize the gallery URLs, image titles, descriptions and keywords, and control the landing page URL.

    Moreover, it supports Google Search Console verification allowing you to create sitemaps to submit to Google. In such a way, it will work as a directory for your site.

    + Excellent photo quality. SmugMug is a web-site builder guaranteeing that images on your website will preserve the original quality. What is more, even on low-resolution displays, the sharpness will be exceptional. 

    Whereas most competitors lose quality on screens of more than 1920 MP. SmugMug app has a down-sampling algorithm that enables users to create top-notch images without any distortions.

    + Advanced customization options. Although most website builders offer you to use built-in templates without customization, SmugMug enables the user to change the template in such a way that it doesn’t resemble an original one at all.

    In addition, SmugMug is a tool that provides optional HTML and CSS customization. The majority of users can’t create codes. But fortunately, there is a SmugMug’s customer base and you may successfully use ready codes.

    + High photo protection. Not many SmugMug competitors may boast of decent protection features. The same cannot be said about SmugMug. This platform created the environment to prevent copyright infringement and unauthorized printing. 

    The photos are protected in such a way that that they may be saved only via screenshotting. Moreover, pictures may contain default or custom photography watermarks. You may also designate your pics and galleries as private, unlisted (but accessible via a direct link), or public.

    + Unlimited uploads. If you choose SmugMug, you receive unlimited photo storage, no matter what size your photos and videos feature. In such a way, the service becomes a convenient place to store backups you don’t want to post for now.

    + Optimized mobile version. Mind that users should be able to visit your portfolio site regardless of the device they have ‒ iPhone or tablet with a big display. Luckily, you don’t have to develop a special version for mobile versions since SmugMug automatically optimizes your website for its photo apps. For reference, most hosting platforms can’t boast of such an option. They offer a default mobile site that has nothing to do with the original version.

    + Seamless integration with Lightroom. SmugMug offers Lightroom Plugin Integration for you to easily add, organize and manage photographs. While your SEO metadata and project structure are not changed, the plugin automatically synchronizes with the platform.

    - Service fees could be lower. Unlike free photo hosting websites, no matter what product you sell and what account type you have, you will need to pay a 15% service charge on every transaction. This fee includes credit card payment fees, customer service, and the costs of administering the program. However, if you plan to actively sell your products via the SmugMug website, your 15 % fees may outweigh their cheaper annual cost at some point.

    - Needs less intrusive branding. Shooters prefer platforms with minimal branding. SmugMug brand name is included in the URL. So, in terms of branding, this service isn’t a beneficial one.

    A header and a footer logo are added to your website by default. The header may be removed, and the footer may be shrunk. However, the footer may be eliminated only by custom CSS. In general, you may remove all SmugMug references, but it may take some time and effort.

    What Is Zenfolio?

    zenfolio log Zenfolio is a tool to build a website that will organize, display, and sell your products even if you don’t have coding knowledge. Thanks to its effective gallery presentation, e-commerce system, and marketing tools, Zenfolio has become a leading website builder on the market.
    It is a perfect variant for beginning shooters or bloggers who need a basic plan and don’t want to overpay for advanced features. Zenfolio allows launching multifunctional projects, supports e-commerce functionality, blogging and photo/video uploading.
    Unfortunately, this platform doesn’t offer enough customization for pages and is not the best variant for the photography business.
    • zenfolio interface
    • zenfolio interface
    • zenfolio interface
    • zenfolio interface

      Zenfolio: Strengths and Weaknesses

      + Easy setup. The thing that attracts many users in photo sharing sites like Zenfolio is its user-friendly features. Even if you don’t have any experience, you may successfully use it and develop a website in a matter of minutes. All you have to do is to choose a plan and create an account.

      Then you pick up a template among Zenfolio website examples. Finally, check the boxes you need, and your website is ready to be launched.

      + Integration with Google Analytics & social platforms. Zenfolio is famous for its integration with social networks. In such a way, you may easily share the pics you host on Zenfolio on such platforms as Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ and Twitter. Moreover, you may track how much time this or that visitor spent on your website and what pages they clicked on.

      It is possible thanks to auto integration with Google Analytics. This procedure is quite a simple one ‒ you just view the visitor’s data on the Google dashboard. To sum it up, you may share your photos, check visitor’s behavior and also promote your products by sending emails and coupons.

      + Responsive mobile version. If you want to have an effective website, it should be responsive from any device, including mobiles and tablets. In this regard, Zenfolio pleases its users with a decent mobile version. Clients will conveniently view, pick up and buy your products since your website is optimized for mobile gadgets.

      + 12 Beautiful templates. You may choose among 12 Zenfolio website examples that offer various layouts, gallery compositions, menus, etc. The templates are professionally-designed so your photos will look great and eye-catching.

      + Blog implementation. Blog implementation plays a significant role if you want to use Zenfolio as your all-in-one website/gallery. Zenfolio features the built-in capability to format your posts as part of a blog. It includes automatic, behind-the-scenes organization and RSS features.

      + Extensive e-commerce possibilities. Zenfolio gives you everything you need to learn how to sell photos online. It offers an integrated shopping cart featuring your own branding and supports 18 currency types, extensive shipping/delivery opportunities, etc. Moreover, the cost is reduced by 20% if it is the first order.  

      Also, you may email your Shopping Cart to your friend or partner. You may sell more than 2,000 products offered by integrated partner labs. As you know, the more partners you have, the more photo products you sell.

      So, if you want to sell mugs, t-shirts, calendars, keychains, stickers, and something of the sort, the wider variety ‒ the better.

      + Self-fulfillment of orders. If we compare Zenfolio vs SmugMug in terms of the purchasing process, Zenfolio surpasses the competitor. It allows self-fulfillment of orders through the cart. SmugMug visitors are restricted when it comes to buying from the labs available natively.

      At the same time, Zenfolio allows you to add products for sale within the cart. In such a way, you sell prints, collect payments and manage the actual printing and shipping. It is an ideal function for those who sell obscure products or want to have complete control over the selling process.

      - Lacks customization options. In this respect, Zenfolio really trails far behind since it is focused primarily on its templates. Providing 12 Zenfolio website examples, it restricts experience. So, you choose a pre-defined look and can’t implement your own original ideas.

      - Needs more fonts. If you decide to work with Zenfolio, you may use only 12 default fonts. Other web fonts are not available for you. It is not suitable for users looking for unique fonts to style their website.

      SmugMug vs Zenfolio: Price

      smugmug pricing plans

      Speaking of the SmugMug pricing policy, it is quite an appealing one. To begin with, you may try the platform for 14 days free. Then, if you are satisfied with the performance, buy the most suitable plan:

      • Basic ‒ $48/year or $5.99/month - optimal variant for those who just want to host their photographs.
      • Power ‒ $72/year or $8.99/month - if you want to get advanced control over your pics.
      • Portfolio ‒ $180/year or $23.99/month – for those who want to sell their photos.
      • Pro ‒ $360/year or $41.99/month  - if you are professionally engaged in the photography business.
      zenfolio pricing plans

      Zenfolio free trial version is available for 2 weeks and you don’t have to enter any credit card details. Speaking of Zenfolio prices, they differ according to the plan you choose:

      • Starter - $24/year or $5/month - is a great option for those who need a portfolio website and blog offering all the basic features.
      • Pro - $96/year or $20/month - you will get client access pages, the possibility to upload your own logos and eliminate the Zenfolio branding from all visitor pages, custom and pre-designed watermarks. In such a way, you will be able to develop a selling platform solely with your branding.
      • Advanced - $144/year or $30/month - enables you to create a professional website with all the gimmicks, like multi-user accounts with various levels of management access, big galleries, marketing tools, email and live chat support, and a decent selling platform.

      SmugMug vs Zenfolio – Who Wins?

      If you ask me what the best website builder is, SmugMug or Zenfolio, I will tell you that there isn’t a single correct answer. Both platforms develop great websites and galleries.

      So, if you want to choose the most suitable tool to create a site, evaluate your needs and desires first.

      If image quality is one of the highest priorities for you and you need more customization, better SEO, convenient mobile site, SmugMug is a great variant to work with.

      However, if you are interested in e-commerce, self-fulfillment of orders, blog option and cheaper fees, choose Zenfolio.

      To sum it up, if you want to know who wins in the SmugMug vs Zenfolio battle personally for you, install trial versions of both programs and make the right choice.

      Ann Young

      Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a professional blogger, read more