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Zenfolio vs SmugMug – Which Is Better?

When planning to develop and build your photography website, you need a specialized web design tool to start you off.

Zenfolio and SmugMug are niche site builders you can rely on to build a portfolio website effectively. They pack niche-oriented tools and features to help your portfolio stand out.

These top-tier tools offer great flexibility, design, customization capabilities, and simplicity. With these enhancements at your disposal, there’s nothing you can’t achieve on your website.

Although they have a similar specialization, Zenfolio and SmugMug differ in their tool and feature sets. Let’s analyze these platforms to find out what each offers and how unique their crucial parameters are.

Read on.

What is Zenfolio?

Zenfolio is a portfolio website builder for professional photographers. Here you can launch all your multifunctional projects and monetize them through blogging, selling, marketing, and more.

This site builder was launched in 2004, and since then, it has grown in popularity, attracting thousands of photographers across the globe. Its intuitive design makes it easy to use, even for newbies.

The multifunctional projects you can launch with Zenfolio are massive. The tool has a lot to offer since it comes integrated with eCommerce and blogging engines, letting you create a web store to showcase and sell your wares to target customers.

Whether it’s photos, collections, galleries, albums, or videos, Zenfolio will empower you with a platform to showcase them, including e-ordering and e-payment enhancements for customers to purchase and pay directly from your portfolio.

What is SmugMug?

SmugMug is a multifunctional tool for building websites. This web builder is advanced and created with professional photographers and creatives in mind. SmugMug is an ideal go-to system to consider if you want to build a quality online gallery and portfolio.

SmugMug lets you create a feature-rich website to showcase, market, and sell your work. There’s no stopping you from creating aesthetically pleasing galleries to share with targeted interest parties.

Founded in 2002, this tool has evolved into a professional portfolio builder with massive subscribers. Its simplicity makes it easy to maneuver the dashboard.

Zenfolio vs SmugMug: User Experience

Here’s where we analyze each tool’s simplicity, ease of use, and flexibility.

Zenfolio

Zenfolio’s interface is logically structured and somewhat complicated, especially for newbies.

However, it’s easy to sign up, with a straightforward working area that allows you to organize your photos in a manner that is easy to search for and find.

Its working area has two sections and an integrated WYSIWYG editor for tracking your progress as you create your website.

With its quality pre-made templates, you can start your projects immediately. But its templates are limited, which may be challenging if you’re always looking to match your style. It also has multilingual support, allowing you to reach a broader audience base online.

Zenfolio’s Support Center has rich educational resources in both video and text formats. Here you’ll peruse through various useful topics to help you when you are starting out. It also has a forum with plenty of thematic categories and branches.

Its customer support is impressive. You can contact them through email, live chat, or by filling out the contact form on the website. They also offer a unique registration link and a one-on-one session with their support team.

This system has an extensive user community with events, reviews, ambassadors, developers, free guides, and a blog.

SmugMug

SmugMug has an extraordinary dashboard with stringent and appealing ergonomics. The signup process is quick and easy, with just a few steps to complete. Even better, it provides tips to help you through the testing process.

The most exciting part of SmugMug is the fixed block-like structure. It has content blocks that offer you a fixed environment for photo editing. This feature can be challenging if you have little experience, but you get to learn and master it afterward.

It has plenty of pre-designed templates to help you organize and showcase your projects in more enticing ways and styles. The drag-and-drop editor gives you much flexibility while designing your stylish portfolio.

SmugMug gives you free rein when accessing CSS and HTML on any page. This means you can customize your projects however you want.

This system divides educational resources into categories, including a YouTube channel with rich videos about its significant nuances. The reference materials are vast, so you may have to use the search filter to find the information you want.

It also has live chat support and an extensive community with blogs, films, events, and forums. Its tech support teams are on hand 24/7. You can reach them via email or contact form.

In addition, there’s an Individual Product Feedback section which is its official Feature Request Page. You’re required to fill out a form and enlist all your products’ feature ideas or leave suggestions and comments.

Verdict

Although both tools have robust photo organization and management capabilities, SmugMug wins. It presents a simpler, more ergonomic interface with an easy-to-use page editor and doesn’t have a learning curve.

Zenfolio vs SmugMug: Flexibility of Setup, Blogging, and eCommerce

Zenfolio

Zenfolio has built-in eCommerce and blogging engines that let you connect your online store and blog to your projects, letting you update them regularly. It allows you the flexibility to create and manage a fully featured portfolio.

You have the freedom to come up with plenty of photo collections to sell to various customers regardless of age or demography. The integrated shopping cart supports more than eighteen different currencies, meaning you can popularize your brand to your fill.

Moreover, you have extensive shipping options and multiple online payment options. Its CSV file export/import feature enables you to include files in your portfolio without a hassle and share them with interested parties easily.

The enticing part of Zenfolio is the regular discount certificates on your first order and the ability to upload and sell more than 2,000 products with the tool.

However, the checkout process could be clearer and easier to navigate.

Zenfolio guides you with popups on the screen about setting up your site. These popups will point you to the various menu sections. Selecting your theme and uploading your photos is a breeze on Zenfolio.

However, the adjustment options can be overwhelming.

SmugMug

SmugMug provides a broad spectrum of customization features for your portfolio. The eCommerce feature set is vast and powerful. These features simplify the setup and management of e-stores, including selling your photos and other content.

Its standout eCommerce features include discount coupons, sales, price lists, security settings, organization of your photo collections, etc. All these have very flexible customization capabilities.

SmugMug’s integrated shopping cart is fully hosted, with plenty of payment, checkout, and delivery options.

It also offers multi-currency support, watermark creation, logo uploading, and opportunities to enhance the performance of your e-store. If you set a price for your products on SmugMug, you get 85% of the ultimate profit.

Its checkout processes are simple, seamless, and fast; from ordering to payment.

The only downside of SmugMug is its lack of support for blog creation.

But its setup process is the most user-friendly. It guides you through selecting your theme, adding photos, and performing your customizations.

Its customization panels require a slight learning curve, though. You have to take it in, step by step, until you can grasp the ropes.

Verdict

Zenfolio definitely bags the trophy for flexibility, blogging, and eCommerce. It is swift to set up and allows blogging with various eCommerce enhancements.

Zenfolio vs SmugMug: Editing Your Templates

Zenfolio

Zenfolio has twelve template presets, all with separate gallery compositions, presentation structures, image displays, home pages, menu positions, and other unique elements.

These presets also have unique color palettes, typography types, backgrounds, and many customizable elements to personalize your project designs.

It’s your choice to get a preset template and tailor it to your style or modify its layout from the 25 options available. If you can’t find your preferred preset or template in its collection, start from scratch using a blank theme.

Zenfolio allows you to activate or deactivate elements of a page if you don’t need them on your portfolio. However, it will take time to maneuver and understand its template settings.

SmugMug

SmugMug has quality templates with responsive designs. The templates are built with a contemporary look that fits into any trendy design. It has 26 templates in its collection with high-grade themes.

The tool has diverse customization options for its templates. For instance, it’s easy to add new blocks to templates, and change the color scheme and background (video and slideshow).

You can also modify the spacing between blocks, add sidebars, edit the CSS or HTML code, and adjust the gallery easily.

It supports photo outputs in resolutions up to 4,000, and you can also switch between templates, regardless of the stage of customization you are at. The process is hassle-free, with no risk of losing your content.

SmugMug’s editor makes it easy to navigate the templates, especially with its drag-and-drop functionality.

Verdict

SmugMug is the winner. Besides its rich templates, it also comes with an advanced, flexible drag-and-drop editor that simplifies the template editing process.

Zenfolio vs SmugMug: Integrations

Zenfolio

Zenfolio is renowned for having high-end integrations that you can use to enhance the design and performance of your portfolio. You’ll find plenty of add-ons and widgets to integrate with all your projects.

Some of these enhancements include triple scoop music with over 1,700 songs and the photographer’s edit raw file processing. It also integrates with StatCounter, Webmaster, and Google Analytics tools.

Incorporating these integrations helps you track traffic behavior, sources and flow, user control, conversion, sales monitoring, and more. This will help you work on areas that need improvement.

SmugMug

SmugMug also lets you access its widgets collection to use in all your projects and enhance their look. Its widgets include logos, calendars, galleries, maps, text, share buttons, etc.

It connects with the Lightroom plugin, which lets you organize, add and manage all your videos and images. The plugin synchronizes with the site automatically without affecting your project structure or SEO metadata.

The website builder also integrates with Flickr to boost your popularity and brand recognition.

Verdict

When it comes to integrations, Zenfolio wins. It has more integration opportunities, including built-in analytic and tracking tools and photo editing features.

Zenfolio vs SmugMug: Customizations

Zenfolio

Zenfolio allows you to enjoy a seamless branded experience with a checkout that adjusts to your unique theme. You don’t get to edit your mobile site directly, but you can share your photo projects across all social platforms.

Its customization panel is pretty detailed but can also be confusing. It only allows you to use HTML.

However, you will encounter plenty of aspects to change in each theme. Its themes have excellent options for all types of photography, and you can develop your own theme or select from the available colors and fonts.

SmugMug

With SmugMug, you only need to click and drag your content onto a page. It has plenty of themes to use in various photography types, with an editor that allows you to move and add content.

Its customization panel is choppy, though. It’s divided into several tabs and sections.

You can use HTML or CSS in SmugMug, then modify the theme by shifting your content around or adding code. It’s easy to use custom domain names and even load your personal logo.

Verdict

SmugMug wins hands down. It gives you the option to use HTML or CSS, with an editor that offers seamless portfolio creation processes.

Zenfolio vs SmugMug: Photo/Content Management

Zenfolio

Zenfolio’s content management tools are pretty diverse and advanced. Using these tools, you can organize your photos effectively into galleries and assign them tags.

The tools also make it easy to arrange your uploaded videos and photos, create image categories, switch file categories, utilize integrated photo upload tools like ActiveX and HTML5, and import and present EXIF and IPTC metadata.

The platform allows you to upload unlimited photos in various formats, including the RAW format, which you’ll connect with RAW File Edit services for editing.

Its import and export features are advanced, enabling you to host on platforms like Microsoft Live Photo Gallery, command line, Photo Mechanic, Adobe Lightroom, and more.

Zenfolio offers free and secure video and photo hosting in multiple formats. It has a Dim-the-Lights mode that enhances large-screen image presentation.

The Triple Scoop Music collection service lets you choose your preferred music from the 50+ audio tracks available.

The tool also allows you to download free Android and iOS mobile apps to help you manage your projects on the go through your smart device.

Moreover, there are unique Client Memory apps for downloading and managing your photo collection.

Social media sharing is one area Zenfolio hasn’t left out. You can share your photo projects on platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and other social media.

SmugMug

SmugMug focuses primarily on structure customization, photo safety, and portfolio design.

Its visual editor streamlines photo editing using functions like cutting, rotating, effects, or connecting and working with Lightroom.

You can also add watermarks and location parameters to your photos.

The platform has extensive image management tools that enable you to organize your videos and photos into thematic galleries, collections, and distinct folders.

To protect your projects, SmugMug lets you adjust the accessibility of your projects by setting up unique VIP passwords, assigning access rights to specific user groups, and storing your collections in the system cloud.

It’s easy to use branded watermarks to protect your work, restrict or grant access to several users and back up your pictures automatically using Amazon Web Services.

If you host your photo galleries on Amazon Drive, Flickr, or DropBox, SmugMug lets you import them hassle-free. Its image-sharing options are vast.

You can share your projects, including web pages, galleries, and collections, on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and other social networks.

This tool has an integrated mobile app for uploading, editing, archiving, and sharing photos on the go. It also issues discounts, gift certificates, and special offers you can take advantage of.

Verdict

SmugMug wins in this category. It has vast ways of protecting projects, importing them, and sharing them with audiences across platforms. It also has an app to help you manage your work on the go and back it up in the cloud.

Zenfolio vs SmugMug: Monetizing Your Portfolio

Zenfolio

Zenfolio provides numerous options to sell your products online. It can connect you with Miller’s and Mpix for products and prints. You also have the option to conduct self-fulfilled orders.

You can sell your prints, collect payments, and handle the printing and shipping yourself through Zenfolio.

This is a wonderful option if you plan to offer customers unique, handmade packaging or products, or just want to process your prints through a lab not affiliated with Zenfolio.

You’ll customize prices to show a specific markup beyond your base cost.

Zenfolio’s basic package allows you to buy prints at cost and handle your invoicing and payment collection directly with your clients. Its maximum photo file size is 64 MB, and its video is 2GB.

Here, you can dictate the fixed-up charge and markup of the price list, but you aren’t able to know your profit after the commission fees. It charges 7% on each sale.

SmugMug

With SmugMug, you can provide both digital and physical prints.

The platform works with four printing labs: WHCC, Loxley Color, BayPhoto, and EZPrints. It’s ideal if you plan to provide drop shipping to your clients directly.

Once you set up your price lists, it’s easy to sell on SmugMug since the process is fully automated.

You can use one universal price list for every gallery on your website if you subscribe to its packages.

The platform lets you customize your price list, but you can only assign each gallery its price list if you subscribe to the professional plan. The good thing is that you’ll have unlimited storage and a more extensive video and picture size of up to 3GB and 150MB, respectively.

SmugMug may look complicated, but it will show your profit after the commission fee for all the products on the price list. It charges 15% on every sale.

The higher subscription packages have perks like event lists and galleries, custom package offerings, boutique packaging, and branded packaging for galleries.

Verdict

SmugMug wins because of its automatic monetization process. It works with various labs, making it easy for you to offer drop shipping to your customers.

Zenfolio vs SmugMug: Pricing

Zenfolio

Zenfolio offers a 14-day trial to give you a feel of how it works. It has three premium plans.

The ProSuite plan costs $36/month and allows for showing, sharing, scheduling, and selling. The PortfolioPlus plan lets you show, share, and sell and costs $18 per month. On the other hand, the Portfolio plan allows for showing and sharing; it costs $8 per month.

Eac plan has unique features such as the number of hosted videos, photo storage, custom domain, SEO optimization, and more. Check out their pricing page for feature comparisons under these plans.

Also, note that Zenfolio gives discounts on annual billing from time to time. Keep an eye on their pricing page to benefit from these special offers.

The platform does not allow you to switch from one plan to another. Before choosing a plan, you have to analyze your needs and goals and settle on the one that fits you best.

SmugMug

SmugMug, like Zenfolio, has a 14-day trial to help you understand its way of working. It has three paid plans, including:

The Power Plan costs $13/month, the Portfolio Plan costs $28/month, and the Pro Plan costs $42/month. Check out the pricing page for various features under each plan.

All these plans come with unlimited storage space for your photos and videos.

Verdict

Both platforms offer reasonable pricing rates. However, SmugMug wins because it provides more paid subscriptions with perks you’d enjoy at any level of your website-building process.

Zenfolio vs SmugMug: Pros & Cons

Zenfolio Pros

  • Unlimited amount of bandwidth
  • Quality templates
  • Free trial
  • Plenty of integrations
  • Blogging and eCommerce engines
  • Cost-effective subscription rates

Zenfolio Cons

  • Lack of live customer support
  • Limited phone and chat help
  • Ships to the US only
  • Limited templates

SmugMug Pros

  • Unlimited storage space
  • High image quality
  • Quick setup process
  • Plenty of eCommerce customizations
  • Excellent integration with image print labs
  • Great photo organization and management features

SmugMug Cons

  • No blogging feature
  • No free plan
  • 15% fee on all products
  • No invoicing
  • Fewer templates
  • Not intuitive enough

SmugMug vs Zenfolio: Similarities and Differences

Similarities

  • Both platforms simplify importing files from other devices and storing them in the cloud.
  • They both cater to the needs of professional photographers who want to monetize their projects.
  • Their setup process is hassle-free.
  • They come with customizable design templates.
  • Are mobile responsive platforms
  • Both have unlimited storage and excellent customization features.

Differences

  • SmugMug is easier to set up and use than Zeinfolio.
  • Zenfolio has a blogging engine, but SmugMug doesn’t.
  • SmugMug has more powerful photo editing and management options.
  • Zenfolio offers more integrations than SmugMug.
  • SmugMug provides more photo storage options.
  • SmugMug has limited templates compared to Zenfolio.
  • SmugMug’s eCommerce engine is feature-rich and focuses on entrepreneurs in the photography industry, while Zenfolio is more or less small business-focused.

Conclusion

I’d recommend SmugMug because it has more advanced features than Zenfolio. For starters, it packs a punch when it comes to portfolio building.

You’ll encounter high-end customizations and larger photo and video sizes when uploading your images. It works with printing labs to ensure quality resolution prints.

Another reason why I like SmugMug is the multiple shipping options and the ability to offer drop shipping to clients. It is the ideal platform to start your portfolio business and scale up over time.

Besides, it comes with a quick and smooth checkout process with varied payment methods to go with it.