PhotoShelter Websites: An Updated Plan

PhotoShelter Websites: An Updated Plan

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am for transparency in business, even when, and especially when, it means a change in plans. That’s why I am writing to tell you that our new website templates will be delayed a bit, and why that’s actually good news.

As we got deeper into the code planning process, we realized that this was an opportunity to break away from our previous template-based structure and restructure the Site Builder itself. This would allow our websites to be more dynamic and flexible than anything we’ve seen. Of course this adjustment meant that we needed more time.

In addition, although we’ve been working on the new websites platform all year, we also ended up spending a lot of 2020 working on the existing templates and tools you are currently using in response to user requests for improved SEO and responsive design updates, among other things.

Our decision to create a new Site Builder for the new website templates is actually good news because we now get to architect the entire system with the most modern technology and user interface standards. This means nearly unlimited potential for years to come. The extra time this requires will be worth it, I promise. What we are building is truly innovative.

Our plan for the release of new website templates and Site Builder is now targeted for mid-December. At this time, PhotoShelter members will be given access to an early beta version (more on that below) of our amazing new Site Builder, and 3 new templates that they can use to begin testing.

Despite being a very strange and unpredictable year, for us, and for you, I’m sure, it has been a very productive year for our developers.

Here’s what we were able to accomplish so far:

1) Mobile-friendly Shopping Cart: The shopping cart interface was rebuilt so that it would work on all mobile devices.

2) Several updates to the PhotoShelter Mobile App: The app got several updates and now works with all modern mobile devices. It was made to fit large screen phones, it now supports the current operating systems, and half a dozen bugs were fixed. 

3) Huge improvements in SEO: We re-tooled all of the templates so that they are fully optimized for search engines.

4) Responsiveness improvements for all websites: All of the website templates received updates so that they would display perfectly on any type of device.

5) Full support for Google’s Licensable Images program: This one was a surprise addition to our list of projects, but it was so important that we jumped all over it.

6) Fixes and improvements to website custom pages: Custom pages have been updated with new features and were made SEO-friendly, too.

7) A long list of bug fixes and product improvements: In the past four months our team has been spending an average of 83% of their time working on the new templates and Site Builder, but many other little things tend to pop up and steal some attention. Take a look at the Changelog to get a better sense of that.

Now let’s talk about why I am so excited about the future.

The key objective is to put something in your hands as soon as possible. That’s why we made the decision to break from the normal product development and release cycle by giving all members early access to the tools as we are building them.

In mid-December you’ll be able to start using an early beta version of the new Site Builder. As new features roll out they’ll be added to the Site Builder. We’ll also be releasing a feedback system so you can give us your opinion and make suggestions.

The new Site Builder is a lot different than what we have today. It will let you fine tune just about any element (or “component”) in a gallery or on any page. (That’s the innovative part.) This means you will have more control, and won’t be restricted to the default design of the site. If you don’t like how one part of a template looks, you can  go right ahead and change it.

For example, you will be able to adjust the way thumbnails appear on a gallery page by choosing from a variety of smart grids. You can adjust the spacing between the thumbnails, or even if you want rounded corners (or not). You will be able to specify a different design for each gallery if you want.

Here we’re using the “Change Image Grid” function to update the image layout for our site’s homepage. You’ll have a number of grid options to choose from and can specify different grids for different galleries.
In this example, we’re changing the border radius of our thumbnails to create rounded corners. The Site Builder will make these types of changes as simple as typing the pixel dimensions into the appropriate field.
You’ll also be able to easily edit elements like your site’s navigation, from the navigation bar style to the specific pages you want to include.
You might notice the new Site Builder was designed in “dark mode,” but your website can take on any color palette you like with just a couple of clicks. Here we’ve selected a custom color palette, changing our site’s background from dark to light.

This is possible because, within the new Site Builder, each component on the website will come with a set of controls just for it. In the examples above, thumbnails on a page, the navigation bar and your site’s color palette are each unique components.

When the new Site Builder is available in December, it will be considered an “early beta,” which means you’ll be able to start using the tools to create a website, but you won’t be able to publish that site for the world to see yet. After we receive member feedback and our QA process has been completed, we will make it possible to publish websites.

I am excited about what I see in our weekly developer update meetings, and I think it’s a real game changer for PhotoShelter. I’m also anxious to get your feedback so that’s why we are going to share our work with members earlier than we normally would. Consider yourself part of the development team, because you will have a lot of input on what we’re building. Seriously.

We also plan to keep you updated on this topic by posting more frequently to the blog. You should expect to see something every few weeks with news of our progress on the new templates and Site Builder, so keep an eye out for that!

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This article was written by

PhotoShelter co-founder and GM

There are 99 comments for this article
  1. Ian Murray at 11:25 am

    Thanks for the update. I can’t pretend not to be disappointed – I’m all ready with a new domain name to add to my existing one. But appreciate the honesty over the situation and we will all have to be patient. The trouble is that this has been simmering away for a long time now and it has meant a period of inertia. It hasn’t seemed worth doing anything much to my website until the new stuff comes along.

    Anyway in the context of what else is going on in the world this is the least of our worries.

    An early Xmas present hopefully and something to work then?

    Thanks Grover. Keep safe.

    • Grover Sanschagrin Author at 11:38 am

      Thanks Ian. If we could do this any faster, we would. But the possibilities that this new Site Builder brings is going to be worth the wait. We went through years and years of member feedback and requests and came up with a plan to build a tool that could address nearly all of them. Every photographer is different, and building a tool that can handle it all takes some time. I appreciate your patience.

  2. Alex Vita at 11:48 am

    Exciting things coming up. Thanks for the updates, Grover.
    A quick question on behalf of some of my web-design clients: what about customization controls for photographers looking to integrate with WordPress (currently using your classic templates in manual customization mode)?

    • Grover Sanschagrin Author at 11:55 am

      Oh, good question. I didn’t really get into this level of detail in the post, but since you’re asking…

      A lot of our members are still using the old classic “Manual Mode”, even with all of its limitations. So, to respond to this we are building a similar feature into the new Site Builder. This will give you access to the CSS that controls each component. The area will be called the “DANGER ZONE” because you could really do some damage there if you’re not careful.

      • Marian Kraus at 2:17 pm

        Hello Grover,

        your response to Alex’s question made my heart sing. Having been using the PS platform, customized to merge with a WP platform that Alex has been skillfully maintaining for many years now, we are SUPER READY & EAGER to enter the Danger Zone 😉 Very much looking forward to the launch and availability of the new features. Keep up the good work.

  3. Dipl. Ing. Robert Krasser at 12:55 pm

    Thanks Grover, looks promising. looking forward to the new design/templates. I just would like to askmagain that in the new template there is the possibility of writing a caption direct under the image. for us photojournalists the caption is often same important than the image. like in the newspaper, you look first at the image and read the caption below. please make sure this is possible in all futuredesigns.

    • James T at 10:56 pm

      Further to this, will it be easy to simply add blocks of text to pages? Something I was expecting to be simpler with all the talk of SEO updates.

      e.g. we’re event photographers, so alongside our event photography gallery, it’d be useful to have some text explaining what we offer event clients, rather than just a bunch of pretty photos. And then the corporate gallery would have text relevant to our corporate clients, etc.

      It seems it would be more intuitive to include that all in one place, rather than having one page for the photos, and another for the spiel.

  4. James Bourret at 2:01 pm

    This all sounds good, and worth the wait. As a photographer oriented to print sales, I am hoping you are looking carefully at reducing the ‘friction’ that currently exists in the shopping cart functionality across all platforms, not just mobile. The kludgy purchasing process has got to be improved!

    • Grover Sanschagrin Author at 4:48 pm

      Hi James. Yes, the shopping cart overhaul is next on the list right after we get the Site Builder fully built out. The good news is that we have a list of requests from members going back years, so the commerce roadmap is extremely clear.

  5. ANDREA CIPRIANI MECCHI at 2:08 pm

    I have been holding on as long as possible for these much needed updates. August came and went. There are so many issues that make the system confusing and not very user friendly. How realistic is the December deadline? I’m frustrated and have been shopping around at other services. I will hold out if December is an honest deadline.

    • Grover Sanschagrin Author at 4:50 pm

      We are definitely releasing an initial beta in December. Even if the worst happens, then the release will contain a few less features.

  6. Curtis Juliber at 2:10 pm

    With the new site builder will we be able to actually have a sandbox ie. the ability to have an active site but yet have a site for testing before going live. You imply that will exist in beta but wanted to know if that will be available moving forward.

    Thanks.

    • Sara at 8:09 pm

      This is great news! I’m really hoping the inability for customers to create an image package on a mobile device bug is fixed (can’t drag and drop images without the phone scrolling away). Look forward to testing out the beta version and having a bit more control over the site. I appreciate the update!

  7. Jon Stroud at 2:15 pm

    One thing to throw back in there…
    Are there any plans to reintroduce/reinvent Virtual Agencies? We had big plans to utilise this facility to collaborate with other photographers just at the time PhotoShelter pulled the plug. This was a real shame for us as we had already invested a lot of time and effort planning and recruiting other contributors.

    • Grover Sanschagrin Author at 4:43 pm

      This is an interesting question, Jon. Back in those early days we didn’t have a PhotoShelter API. Today we do. I’m wondering if something could be built (either by us or a third party) using our API that can take the Virtual Agency concept to another level. You’ve got me thinking!

  8. Hans Knikman at 2:17 pm

    Thanks for the update Grover. Looking forward to the new things. Can’t wait to test and bring my frontend of the website back to photoshelter

  9. Russ Bishop at 2:18 pm

    Thanks for the update, Grover. As many have said, I’m anxious to put the new design features to use. I love my current template, but certain aspects could be improved to be more customer friendly. Keep us posted!

    • Grover Sanschagrin Author at 4:39 pm

      Hi Russ. I’ll definitely keep you posted as we go. We’re planning to do regular small progress reports along the way, showing different features within the Site Builder. The sooner we can get the beta in your hands, the better.

  10. Peggy at 2:19 pm

    My wish is for a template that has a one photo landing page for a gallery instead of a gallery grid. Choices. Seems a very simple choice that should be available and currently isn’t with any of your templates. Best wishes to all! Thank you and be well.

  11. Mahlon Barash at 2:25 pm

    First, you should know that I’m a complete novice. As an amateur photographer, I have many photos I would like to sell to stock photo companies or other purchasers. I have never set up a website for and I have no idea what are the guidelines for a good website. I have no idea how to market my photos. I am also concerned about intellectual property rights for my photos and how to protect them. I really just don’t know where to start. So my question to you is very simple: Can you help me?If not, can you suggest a group that can help me?

  12. Kathy Anderson at 2:32 pm

    Thank you for the update, Grover. Will the new templates have options for putting text on the page with different fonts and sizes available? I am interested in creating a headshot page with a few sample photos and a lot of text explaining the process.

  13. Carole Jones at 2:34 pm

    I’d hoped for blog …. I don’t like having to host my blog somewhere else and then link them. It’s very cumbersome to have to go back and forth. I also don’t like that my blog looks different from my site.

    • Grover Sanschagrin Author at 4:36 pm

      Hi Carole. The new Site Builder may actually be able to handle this for you. It’s never going to be a “blog” like WordPress, but you will be able to add text to pages and create what look like blog posts.

      • Chris Lawson at 10:08 am

        Well that sounds good news! I’ve also hated having an external blog and have often asked if this will ever happen. I use the website as a portfolio, and a blog to promote recent work as a way of attracting new commissions. The ‘Blog’ or ‘News’ text facility should be perfect for me. Looking forward to seeing it.

  14. W at 2:40 pm

    Thanks for the update. Was curious if you expect the new templates to support expanded text components beyond the individual image captions. For example, to have the ability to lead a gallery with a page of text describing the work, etc. This is so important for documentary projects that need full descriptions beyond the captions for individual images.

      • Siggi at 4:13 pm

        Good news Grover and thanks for the update.

        I hope we will indeed see something happening in December. I’ll save my questions and comments on the templetes until I’ve played with the beta.

        However, one question. Will we get any closer to being able to deliver our videos alongside our images with the new templetes? About a third of my shoots these days include short videos from a few seconds up to 2-4 minutes and it is almost embarassing to have to include a google drive link for the videos along with the gallery of images. :-/

        Looking forward to hearing more.

        Take care 🙂

  15. Tim Bird at 2:51 pm

    I’d like to see more pricing plans for storage. I don’t need unlimited (although I currently have it) but 100GB is little. Any plans to change that, in addition to the welcome increased design flexibility?

    • Grover Sanschagrin Author at 4:34 pm

      Oh yeah, there’s gonna be a ton of options. And if something doesn’t exist, the framework we have in place means we can create a component that will. It’s pretty cool stuff.

  16. Gustavo Jimenez at 4:28 pm

    I have been sticking with you guys all this time waiting for this. I have refused to go to wix hoping that you guys will come around, and now you did .im very happy and pleased with guys .thanks

  17. Michael at 5:08 pm

    Grover,

    This is good news. I hope that the search engine changes will impact the way google looks at my site. Presently Google knows of my 150,000 images but will not index them because of the way the code is on the template.

    Other than that a refresh would be great.

      • Ian Murray at 5:18 pm

        I had the same result when I submitted by site to Google, following the guidelines and procedure given by Photoshelter. Subsequently the Google console showed that the bots had located all approx 70k of my pages but were not indexing around around 65k of them. It seemed that these were being regarded as duplicates. Don’t know the reasons.

  18. Jonathan at 5:10 pm

    Most of this is about visual styling which sounds great.
    However there are plenty of website builders around that can make decent looking and visually flexible portfolio websites but very few that offer a serious tool for photographers managing a large archive or photo library. We need a powerful, flexible and efficient website for presenting and delivering work to clients, one which allows them to find, select and access what they need as seamlessly and intuitively as possible. I’m hoping Photoshelter will remember and build on its roots in that area.
    So please could you give some indication of what we might expect regarding actual functionality e.g improvements to the Lightbox, Search, Image delivery etc?

    • Grover Sanschagrin Author at 10:55 pm

      Well that’s the plan, really. Step 1 is getting the website to look how you need it to look. Then the search, image delivery tools and client interaction tools follow soon after. PhotoShelter is more than a pretty website, and we intend to keep it that way.

    • Mike Grandmaison at 6:52 pm

      I agree. I am in the same situation. I also want the images to display very large in every type of page, custom pages and not just in the Portfolio section. Been waiting for this feature for more than a year.

  19. Dan at 6:50 pm

    Hi Grover.
    Good to hear you guys are still pushing the envelope.
    Have you any update at all about being able to share video with clients?

    Ideally, in a similar way to how we can share stills right now. Via links or download from site.
    I know this was muted in the past but I haven’t seen any update for a while. Maybe I missed it and if so I’d be glad to see where it’s detailed.

    Thanks again and go well.

    • Grover Sanschagrin Author at 10:57 pm

      Hi Dan. Video was originally on the plan (and it still is) but it’s been delayed due to budget issues related to Covid-19. Hopefully we’ll be able to put that back on the roadmap soon.

    • Grover Sanschagrin Author at 10:00 am

      Hi Dan. Video was on the plan for this year, but covid-19 got in the way and we had to re-structure the budget. I’m hoping we can get that back on the roadmap soon.

    • Grover Sanschagrin Author at 10:58 pm

      Subdomains, meaning CNAME, are already supported. I think you’re talking about custom URLs, though. Good news, the answer is yes.

  20. Donald Schwartz at 7:43 pm

    Hi:

    If and when any or all of this comes to pass, I will continue to look forward to this with a rather jaundice eye. IMHO, PhotoShelter appears to spend more time on brand-building and marketing than making changes on the PhotoSheleter website that might really help their users. Granted I may have missed the underlying point in this missive, but I’ll believe the changes and accept their significance when I actually see them.

    • Grover Sanschagrin Author at 11:00 pm

      Please take a look at our change log. There’s plenty of evidence in there that shows we’ve been working on much-needed functionality based on member request. However, you’ll be able to see the biggest changed mid-December.

  21. Michael O'Brien at 7:57 pm

    I’m in the process of building a Squarespace site – the template choices and site builder finally made me jump ship – i waited a long time for Photoshelter to come up with more variety in the templates – but finally couldn’t wait any longer.

  22. Todd at 8:05 pm

    I agree with Jonathan above that the Archive function of Photoshelter is what sets it apart from other platforms (i.e. being able to sell & license images from a large yet organized and searchable library). I’m hoping the client’s experience in that area will be vastly improved, particularly with bigger image enlargements so they can see more detail in the images they are considering. ?? Looking forward to it!

  23. Robert Dodge at 11:09 pm

    Very exciting stuff, and thank you for the update.

    I am hoping that you’ll include an optional email capture function — the popup that appears on a website requesting an email and/or other user info.

    This is a tiny feature in the grand scope of what you’re doing. But it is an essential tool for photographers wanting to communicate and create a following. It is very important in these days of online marketing, whether you’re selling stock or fine art.

    Second, can you give us a glimpse of the new templates? I am very eager to see what they look like.

    Thanks again to you and all of your team for your work on this project.

    Robert Dodge

  24. Elouise at 4:34 am

    Sounds really exciting! Will the clunky backend of newer site and archive images, and listed on website and not listed on website file structure be improved? Echo a previous comment about storing and managing a large photo library being key, which for years now has been a very confusing setup. Would also love more storage options.

  25. Erica at 12:06 pm

    Thanks for the update! The backend features are still what keeps me with Photoshelter but I cant wait to be able to embed some video clips in with my stills. Like others have mentioned, the wait has been snail pace, but I’m hopeful for Dec 🙂

  26. Laura McGlone at 12:56 pm

    Thanks for the update! I mainly sell art prints of my work, and I am wondering if any of the new templates will be set up to sell products / set up for “shopping?” Each image would be visible as a “product” that shows a price and title below it, and has additional images of that photo (one of it on a canvas, one of it on a wall, etc…) that a customer could flip through and then select from sizes, etc…. directly from the gallery page? This is a feature that Shopify, Squarespace, etc…. offer. It would be most helpful for us fine art photographers out there! Wondering if this will be part of the new features?

    • Grover Sanschagrin Author at 2:31 pm

      Hi Laura. After we get the new templates and Site Builder officially launched we are going to turn our attention to this by creating a whole new super-modern shopping cart. I’ll share the details of that plan after we finish with the current task at hand.

  27. Marcus at 2:55 pm

    Hi Grover the updates and refresh will be most welcome, I look forward to seeing what’s on offer. One key thing I want to know, will there be video integration? It’s essential for photographers these days.

    • Grover Sanschagrin Author at 2:29 pm

      We are working on video now. It’s a concurrent project, but will eventually tie into the new templates and Site Builder.

  28. Alan Look at 7:33 pm

    I still hope to see some more dynamic sorting based on viewer stats. I’d love to have the option to have them arranged by most viewed, least viewed, last viewed, etc. As the stats change, so would the viewing order giving the gallery a fresh look as people view and return to view again.

  29. Sam Kittner at 8:42 pm

    I’m excited about the progress and looking forward to it all coming alive. Is there going to be any movement on improving the client proofing tool? I really love it…but there need to be a way to allow multiple clients to see eachother’s initial selects so they can work together to make the final selects…many clients work in marketing teams with multiple people needing to help narrow down selections…now they aren’t even working in the same offices with the pandemic. This is a much needed update please. Thanks!

    • Sam at 8:48 pm

      Also regarding the proofing tool it would be ideal for the client to be able to leave comments…for example retouching requests, etc. It would also be ideal that when making a new gallery from the selects that gallery appears in the same collection as the original gallery…so one doesn’t have to chase too far in their collection/gallery listings to find and organize the selects gallery. I think we all know the shortcomings of the old PhotoShelter light boxes…it would be great if the client proofing tool became very robust so that one could even give client permission to create their own gallery or in essence lightbox of images to share with their team members as they narrow down selects.

      • Grover Sanschagrin Author at 2:28 pm

        These are all great ideas. I think we can work this type of functionality into standard gallery pages. It would be more productive than having to send people to a different area of the site just to do what you’re describing.

  30. MJ at 9:44 pm

    All I care about is the selling tools, that’s it – how far behind the site builder is a new ordering system and are there any ideas for features it may include?

    • Grover Sanschagrin Author at 2:26 pm

      A new shopping cart will follow the new Site Builder. We have a very long list of functionality requests from our users, and we’ve already started a plan for making it happen. After we get the Site Builder and new templates out I will be sharing the details of the new cart with everyone here on the blog.

  31. Bagu Blanco at 7:02 am

    Very good news!

    It would be very interesting to get a cover with a visualization similar to that of Getty. I think this would have a more professional finish than the Downtown template, which only acts as a portfolio.
    The needs of our agency are to offer an attractive first view of the main photo chosen as the cover of each of our galleries, but currently this possibility does not exist. The closest is Downtown but it has too much air around each image. It would also be very effective to include the headline on the main image, instead of doing it outside of it as is currently the case in Downtown.
    Lastly, I would like to have the ability to control the size of the covers in each gallery. Currently Downtown only allows them to appear 3 by 3. It would be interesting to be able to decide how many galleries we can offer in each row.
    Much encouragement to continue working.

  32. C.S. Young, Jr. at 12:33 pm

    Thank you for great communications and visibility, excited about all the updates! I would like to follow up on Tim Bird’s question. At this point in time, I feel the Standard Plan 100GB storage limit is a bit out dated. Are there plans to update the Basic and Standard Plan storage limits? I have communicated with customer support in the past about this topic and understood there would be some storage limit updates coming. Cheers!

    • Grover Sanschagrin Author at 2:22 pm

      Most of our plans involve adding more features and functions to the Pro-level plan which currently offers unlimited image storage. I’m not aware of any plans to change the Standard plan.

  33. Daryl Hunter at 8:08 am

    Looks like some great move forward, I love the SEO and google image for sale add. I have been waiting for a year or more for a promised more customization for Marquee v1.4.0 display options. with 4,000+ images currently it isn’t intuitive to get to gallery view of the galleries and defaults to single image > next > next > next etc to see a hundred images. When you got to “I” (info actions) to get the shopping cart for a single image ( the way I like to post an image to social media) the “thumbnail” selector disappears off the top menu.

    I have many people contacting my who can’t figure out how to purchase, then I sell direct, oh I don’t have to pay your commission that way but I can’t help but wonder how many people give up instead of emailing me.

    I hope that it becomes easier without several moves the take experience to find to get to windows like this. https://theholepicture.photoshelter.com/gallery/Italy/G00006x35spX1rLs/C0000jQiDl8U6PFE

    Thanks for fixing the it so nearly all the pages come up with our URL instead of Photoshelter’s, It made it easier to build spidering (in my mind) while helping Photoshelters.

    Thank you for your work, and thanks to Photoshelter for giving me a break during the shutdown I feared I wan’t going to be able to keep my presence.

    Cheers

  34. Lee at 3:41 pm

    Super excited about all of the new features! I have the same question as Jaak, will there still be a template to use video on the home page and more video throughout?

  35. TIA at 8:58 pm

    Out of curiosity, has the issue regarding social media (i.e. Twitter) been addressed with the new revisions? Specifically, when we post a link to an image that’s NOT featured in our Portfolio, will the image associated with the link itself appear in a tweet instead of just the link alone? The images that sit in the Portfolio do this without a problem currently, but it would be ideal that any image from any gallery within our respective PhotoShelter websites can be shared with the entire image appearing when the link to it is posted.

  36. Desmond at 3:25 am

    Good Morning Grover, I think the burning quwarion is, “when” will the new platform be available to your existing and loyal customers?

  37. Al at 5:02 am

    I’m wondering how long it will take Photoshleter to introduce a decent working Blog. Even Zack Arias switched to a competitor because of this. I’ve been using Photoshelter for a couple of years now I’m still waiting. I have considered switching too, but I don’t want to support businesses that ruin photographers.

    • Grover Sanschagrin Author at 2:17 pm

      The new templates and Site Builder will include the ability to include text in images and galleries. When we’ve contacted people who said they wanted a “blog”, in most cases they wanted to be able to add a story along with their pictures. The new system will allow for this. We aren’t going to re-create WordPress inside of PhotoShelter, though.

  38. Kent at 11:11 pm

    Your candor clearly comes from your photojournalism background. I’m blown away at what you have accomplished for me and photographers everywhere. Thank you Grover.
    Kent Miller

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