News from Zenfolio

January 7, 2010

Portfolio layouts with logos and site menus, visual Theme Designer, better SEO tools, new full-screen Slideshow, faster and more streamlined Edit View.

Today is a historic day. It has been our vision since Zenfolio was founded to provide a visual way to design stunning pages without any coding knowledge. And today this vision becomes a reality. We know many of you have been anxiously following our posts on Facebook leading to this release, fueled by an occasional teaser screenshot posted here and there. We thank you for your patience, and we are very proud to say: "The wait is over".

This is one of the biggest release efforts we have undertaken as a company, made possible by the constant encouragement we have received from you, our users, through the forums, Facebook, and Twitter. With this release, Zenfolio becomes the most complete service to affordably and professionally manage all aspects of your photography online.

The following new functionality and enhancements are available immediately for all users:

Portfolio Home Page Layouts

You can now create portfolio Home pages with a large customizable slideshow and logo branding. Seven new Home page layouts were added covering most configurations of portfolio-style sites. The old directory-style Home page layouts are still available but you really owe it to yourself to at least preview the new portfolio layouts. Every photographer deserves a stylish and polished entry into their site.

As part of the new layouts, you can now upload two logo sizes to be used throughout your pages (this is done under Public Profile ). And there is a new optional field for a Welcome message to be displayed on the Home page. There are a seemingly infinite number of combinations of different layouts and elements that can be arranged on your Home page, so take some time to experiment and create a clean and compelling design. To access the new layouts, switch to Customize Visitor View and navigate to your Home page.

Other Home page options include:

  • Configuring slideshow by selecting a gallery or collection from your Organizer (for the best presentation we recommend creating a special collection of carefully picked landscape images of the same size)

  • The ability to select "dynamic" page configuration which can either maximize the size of the slideshow images or leave enough space to display other elements

  • The ability to fix the width of your Home page to a fixed size that will fit and look the same on all screens

  • Many alignment combinations for logos and other page elements helping achieve the best configuration given your unique content

Portfolio style Home page layouts are available to all Zenfolio subscribers including Basic, Unlimited, and Premium levels. Uploading your own logos is a Premium feature.

Persistent Site Menus

No real web site can exist without a persistent site menu throughout all pages to ensure a consistent and uniform browsing experience. You can build your site menu any way you like and include links to any gallery, collection or group, as well as to new built-in About, Contact, and Search pages. Creating a site menu is available to all Zenfolio subscribers including Basic, Unlimited, and Premium levels.

Site menu items can also link to external sites such as a blog or stock agency. Premium users can also upload PDF documents with customer testimonials and price lists, and link site menus to them.

Other enhancements related to web site structure include:

  • A dedicated and linkable About page with the option to include your photo

  • A dedicated and linkable Contact page with the option to include an e-mail form

  • A linkable Search page, now configurable by photographer

  • You can specify where site menu items are displayed: Home page, page header, page footer, or any combination of that. Site menu items can be reordered at any time using drag-and-drop.

An elegant portfolio entry combined with uniform site navigation gives you unprecedented flexibility in hosting your entire online presence under one roof.

Theme Designer

The new release introduces the Zenfolio Theme Designer, a groundbreaking new tool used to design and customize pages with a highly intuitive and polished interface. The Theme Designer enables you to have full control of the graphical elements on the pages along with a professional color model-base which suggests colors that are aesthetically designed to work together for a more attractive presentation. With the Zenfolio Theme Designer, the complicated task of editing CSS code has been replaced with a simple point and click tool. Buttons, backgrounds, menu styles, thumbnails, and image treatments are all available for customization to a discerning visual designer.

The Theme Designer includes two main tabs: Style and Elements. The Style tab allows you to define the overall color scheme as well as common styles which will apply to all pages and elements. With just a few clicks, you can easily create an attractive Theme that will work well for all pages. The Elements tab allows you to manually customize individual elements and override any style definitions which apply to them.

The Theme Designer is available to all subscribers including Basic, Unlimited, and Premium levels. You can begin creating new themes by selecting Custom Themes at the bottom of your Organizer in the Edit View.

As an added bonus, the new custom themes can be easily exported and imported, making it easy for photographers to share designs within the Zenfolio community.

Other Theme Designer features include:

  • The ability to upload your own custom graphics for almost any visual element that can utilize them

  • The ability to select from a number of provided graphics for image and background treatments. The list of provided graphics will continue to grow over time.

  • The ability to base your new theme design on a pre-made template. The list of templates will continue to grow over time.

  • Access to five color models suggesting colors based on your initial color selection. This helps ensure that chosen page colors work well together aesthetically. This is a very powerful tool equally helpful for professional and non-professional designers.

  • The ability to control fonts, sizes, and font treatments (the list of fonts most commonly available on the web is included)

  • A virtually unlimited number of Undo(s)

Customize Visitor View Mode Redesign

To accommodate new functionality for Visitor page customizations, the Customize Visitor View mode has been redesigned making it more intuitive and streamlined, at the same time expanding the range of controls and options accessible through this mode.

Of notable importance, Galleries and Collections now have three different tabs for each related page: Thumbnails, Photo, and Slideshow (new). Each tab controls the corresponding page while preserving the relationship of being from the same set of photos.

Related Customize Visitor View enhancements include:

  • Ability to inherit a Theme from the Home page making it super easy to have all your pages follow the same Theme so you can change it in one place only

  • Global controls: Site Menu and Site Settings

  • New and updated Layout and Theme icons (including auto-generated previews for your custom Themes)

  • Tab controls in Page Options to help organize the growing number of items

New Full Screen Slideshow

With this release we are introducing a completely redesigned Flash-based Slideshow available from every thumbnail and photo page. The new Slideshow is truly full-screen and is the result of experience gained through several redesigns of our previous HTML-based Slideshow (which continues to be the seamless default option for viewers with no Flash installed).

The new Slideshow is now fully configurable by photographer, with the ability to hide/show various controls and enforce specific settings and preferences. The Slideshow configuration can be accessed through the newly redesigned Customize Visitor View | Page Options while the Slideshow tab is selected.

Search Engine Optimizations (SEO)

Included in the new release are SEO enhancements to all Zenfolio pages. You now get control of the search positioning with access to webmaster tools from the top search engines, including Google, bing, and Yahoo! Additionally, site maps are now generated and served for each users' site to further help search crawlers discover and index publicly viewable content. These enhancements further ensure that your site is visible in search results for potential buyers and viewers.

Furthermore, green SEO symbols were added throughout the Edit View helping you identify text fields that are typically included in the search index. This helps emphasize the importance of text descriptions and keywords.

Photos can be easily excluded from search engine indexing by setting Access Control to not allow including in public search.

Edit View Updates

The Organizer was completely rewritten to make it faster and more robust. Content is now loaded dynamically resulting in a more interactive experience. Enhancements to the Edit View include:

  • The ability to drag-and-drop galleries/collections/groups into manual sorting positions

  • The ability to control the root group of your photo hierarchy All Photographs by renaming it and creating a friendly URL (highly recommended for SEO)

  • The addition of Watermarks to the Organizer to make them more discoverable

  • The new My Zenfolio/HOME dashboard with common tasks and useful content

  • Public Profile is now a separate set of pages under the ACCOUNT

We have made many more enhancements based on the feedback we have received from you over time. These are the most notable changes:

  • There is a new global Site Setting option under Customize Visitor View allowing you to skip gallery/collection thumbnail page taking the viewer directly to the first large image in the set

  • New My Zenfolio menu bar at the top of Visitor pages

  • Invitation e-mails have been redesigned to make them work with custom themes. They are more professional and clean-looking.

  • Added dedicated Twitter and Facebook fields to Contact Information page

  • Shopping Cart is now displaying photo titles, gallery titles, and image dimensions to help with the selection during ordering. If you would like file names to be visible during ordering, you can copy them to photo Titles using the Description dialog in the Edit View.

  • Removed the Content hosted by Zenfolio link from the bottom of all Visitor pages

  • Added a redesigned Zenfolio branding badge to the header when Zenfolio branding is not removed from Visitor pages

  • Added new 20"x 20" product size from fotoflōt

  • Subcategory Detail: Mexico was moved from Central America to North America (how did it get there in the first place?)

NOTICE: with this release, we no longer actively test the Edit View with Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) web browser. We continue testing IE6 with Visitor pages.

« Previous Entry Next Entry »