Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Your Total Website Solution
For conducting business on the web and giving you the ability to “make money while you sleep,” there are a number of excellent options for pros
For pro photographers who are most concerned about how their work presents to clients on the web, liveBooks (www.livebooks.com) offers some of the best options for site presentation. Up-front costs are higher—the Basic site package costs $800, and the Unlimited package costs $3,200; both are one-time fees, and hosting is $90 per year. A key benefit of going with liveBooks is that you get to work one on one with a member of the liveBooks design team to custom-design the aesthetics and navigation of your site. The process is just like working with a custom-design shop, and the results are a website that’s uniquely yours. Final results for liveBooks sites are generally more customized, freshly designed and visually appealing than other hosting sites. You can judge this for yourself by visiting their custom-design showcase at www.livebooks.com.
liveBooks sites are built entirely in Adobe Flash, but the site automatically creates mirrored HTML pages to ensure clients can find your site when they search on the web and to ensure mobile users can visit your site, since smartphones don’t support Flash. We tested the search-optimization features and, sure enough, when we used common search terms like “sports photographer” and “wedding photographer,” the top result was almost always a liveBooks site.
liveBooks isn’t as strong with e-commerce—the site does offer a way for fine-art photographers to collect fees using PayPal, but doesn’t offer the same comprehensive e-commerce and shopping-cart tools as PhotoShelter, FolioLink and other sites that emphasize the sale as much as the presentation. Overall, liveBooks is the best option we found for presenting your galleries to clients; websites tend to look just a notch better, as though you hired a custom web-design shop for your pro site.
Clickbooq (www.clickbooq.com) allows you to make extensive photo-hosting and gallery exhibition customization. In fact, it’s really more of a web-hosting service for professional photographers where you pay a monthly or yearly fee to showcase your images. There’s even an option to pay a one-time fee of $1,600 to use the Clickbooq service, although you still pay web domain hosting fees per year. For the basic service, you pay $80 per month, plus a $100 setup fee.
The basic structure of Clickbooq is that you set up portfolios of images and then enable features for that portfolio, such as allowing the client to print images, showing thumbnails with captions (or without) and configuring the web navigation (either along the side or above portfolios). For selling prints, Clickbooq doesn’t offer nearly the extensive array of features as other sites that emphasize the sale more than the presentation, but the site does integrate the PayPal micropayment service to help you sell images.
As far as customization, the options are extensive. You can select specific color treatments and layouts, and then drag and drop images directly into the portfolio. There’s a lightbox view that obfuscates the background in a web browser, making images pop. The site also offers a few interesting extras, such as visitor tracking through Google Analytics, an FTP storage site for sharing images between photo studios or between you and your clients, options for transitioning between photos automatically or waiting for the client to click, and even a gallery soundtrack that plays in the background.
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