PhotoShelter Websites: 2021, Here We Come

PhotoShelter Websites: 2021, Here We Come

This year seemed like it would never end, yet here we are. It’s nearly over. We accomplished several celebration-worthy updates here at PhotoShelter for Photographers, but not everything was perfect. I want to look back at 2020 so I can share the successes, be open about the key lessons we learned, and detail some key changes for 2021.

Celebratory Moments

Although a lot of the work we do is behind-the-scenes, under-the-hood, and barely noticeable, these are some of the noteworthy updates that the PhotoShelter Product Development team was able to release in 2020:

Killer SEO: Search engine optimization is of critical importance to our members. It’s also confusing and time consuming to keep up with. One of the benefits that comes baked into a PhotoShelter account is that we take care of that for our members.

This year we put a lot of energy into this area. From website code tuneups, faster page rendering speed, clearly labeling which IPTC fields need to be filled in for best results, to a comprehensive guide to SEO for Photographers.

I’m particularly proud of how the team was able to get this done. But, the SEO work never stops. More tweaks are coming in the first quarter of 2021.

Google Images’ “Licensable” Badge: We got some advanced notice from the Google Images team that this photographer-friendly licensing program was in the works, and we wasted no time in supporting it. Months later, when it was officially announced, we were ready on day one. As of today, we are still the only photo hosting platform providing support for this program, which means our members are likely to see traffic from buyers who are searching Google for images to license.

FileFlow for Android: Our popular image downloading mobile app for iOS is now available for Android devices. FileFlow is our free app that makes it easy for your clients to download your images to their phone, one-by-one or in batch.

Website Template Responsiveness: The responsive design updates we made to the website templates made sure they continue to look great on all of the modern mobile devices people are using today.

Expanding the Team: In the first quarter, we added three new members to our development team, and have been able to get them up to speed.

Here Come the Challenges …

This is where I get super honest and transparent.

The successes listed above are especially meaningful to me because they happened while we were overcoming obstacles, including changes that COVID-19 forced upon us. Although we’re proud that we didn’t have to lay off a single employee, the plans we had early in the year to  add members to our development team needed to be put on hold.

In addition, working entirely from home took some adjustment. The team needed to learn how to communicate in a new way, without organic in-person meetings that can easily be taken for granted back when life was “normal.”

We have great  developers at PhotoShelter, but because our 2020 product release plans required expanding the team, we lost some of the horsepower I expected to have when I planned out the year.  The work we did on the new website templates and Site Builder took a direct hit, and we missed our release target dates.

We promised a mid-December “early pre-release” for the new Site Builder and accompanying templates, and we did meet that date. You wouldn’t know it because we decided not to promote it, and for one really good reason.

We are fortunate to have a group of users who provide us with valuable feedback along the way. Although we’ve made outstanding progress, the feedback we got from that group suggests we’re not ready to roll this out to the broader community of PhotoShelter members because there are still features missing. I am so grateful for the folks who have volunteered their time to share critical feedback — it’s helping us make a much stronger new Site Builder.

The new Site Builder is a massive project with a lot of moving parts. It’s incredibly innovative and will change the way you think of designing and updating your website. The “templates” become just a starting point for your own creativity. This is an innovative approach because it means you’re not limited to anything that’s been pre-designed by someone else. It gives you control over every component of your website without having to touch any code at all.

I am anxious to get the first version launched so we can start collecting member feedback.

On a personal note, I know that I need to be doing a better job of communicating with you along the way. To do that we have created a members-only article you can follow in our Support Center that will give weekly updates on our development progress. The goal is to provide more frequent, yet smaller updates on what we’re doing. Those who are interested can keep track and contact me directly with questions or feedback.

Another change: I’m not going to commit to specific launch dates anymore. I’ve learned my lesson. Instead I’m going to be radically transparent as I share our progress with you along the way.

I’m anxious to get into 2021 because I know that it’s going to be a year filled with exciting product releases, including the new Site Builder and other things that I’ve successfully managed to keep quiet about. 

We continue to be impressed with the members of our community, who have shown such resilience through the pandemic. If you’re looking for some inspiration, you should take a look at our most recent guide, The Photographer’s Outlook on 2021.

Thanks for getting through 2020 with us.

— Grover

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This article was written by

PhotoShelter co-founder and GM

There are 13 comments for this article
  1. David nelson at 5:20 pm

    Grover do you have any Beta’s to test I was enrolled with Apple for Big Sur , and I don’t mind trying things out , im not an engineer but it may be interesting to see if I find the new layouts easy to use ,as if I can do it anyone can

  2. Brian McGilloway at 4:20 pm


    I’m currently a photo buyer (editor) for Wilderness Travel and I’m leaning toward PS for posting about 500 – 1000 of my own images. I appreciate the honestly of this article. As I am beginning the process I am excited to read about your impending new Site Builder. Can you tell me if incorporating a blog function is part of that? I know many members feel constrained by the current template offers but I think they are quite elegant. I have a few weeks of editing and keywording ahead. Should I hold off on the design of my site in lieu of a much improved Site Builder?

    Brian McGilloway

    • Grover Sanschagrin Author at 4:46 pm

      Hi Brian. The new Site Builder won’t have a “blog” like WordPress, but it will give you the ability to insert text (headlines and body text) into galleries. In our research, that was what people meant when they mention the word blog. The new Site Builder doesn’t have a date of completion assigned yet (I learned my lesson), so you may want to get started with our current set of designs, and then you can move over to the new one when it’s ready.

      • David Stumpp at 12:40 pm

        Hi Grover,

        I, too, have long been interested in Photoshelter having a native blog function, rather than needing to import a blog that I maintain elsewhere, and have even written in that regard in the past, so I am a bit disappointed to learn that this has been interpreted differently.

        Best wishes,
        David Stumpp

      • Dom Greves at 7:44 am

        We all understand that launch dates slip but that is not a reason for having no launch dates at all. This is very frustrating.

  3. John Todd at 8:41 pm

    Looking forward to the updates! Thanks for your hard work in this challenging season. At the end of the day, Photoshelter is rock solid, always working, and it is the backbone of my business. Thanks to Grover and the team for pushing the project forward!

  4. Katey Jane Andrews at 6:28 pm

    Hi, not been a user for that long, almost 2 months now, have found a few issues that have been reported which seem to be not getting anywhere.

    Share buttons do not work on all galleries unless you in the index area and sharing URLs to Twitter do not have images, just links unless you in the index area again. I have been told a few times its being looked into but somehow I don’t believe it.

    After 7 years with SmugMug and their major issues, I thought I had escaped some, only to find a new set of issues. the issues around not being able to add writing, or using custom css, adding and removing unwanted menus and having the ability to create a personal homepage are very odd in the modern world of websites, In fact, your video states how important it is to have content and not just images makes me wonder why you didn’t have the options when you first started making your sites.

    At the moment how the website is, it is no use to me because of my wide subject range, the homepage is fixed and will not display multiple options.

    yet the single image with the info and carts are well thought out.

    As I am dyslexic I tend to work with people who have the same issues or with people who don’t have that much skill with websites and they often do not understand items like navigation arrows or to click on the websites name to get back to the homepage. far too many website builders build their sites based on everyone knowing the internet.

    I hope this new website you buildings is better than the fixed one you have now and I would of loved to be a new site reviewer if I had the chance. as I see sites in different ways to most.


  5. Will Sfakiotakis at 5:53 am

    Thank you for the update!

    I’m really excited about the new potentials coming our way, I see that my ‘shop window’ is going to look so much more polished. I’m a new – re branded business trying to establish my services in a very saturated market and first impressions are so important.

    I fully appreciate the scope of this effort, it must be huge. While I mention scope..


    Sorry if I’ve missed any prior communications, but are there plans to enable photographers to offer framed prints / photo books / products etc from galleries where customers can select images with products, see how they look then order? I appreciate this is not a simple task.

    This would be a great experience for the customer and increase profits too.

    Kind Regards


  6. Ian Murray at 1:12 pm

    Any date for this being implemented? It is now a year since it was announced.

    July 2020 was mentioned then passed. Then December 2020. I bought my new domain name in October so as to be ready for the December launch.

    Still waiting.

    I am just asking. It seems reasonable to ask. I am not particularly interested in how hard it is and all the struggles just want to know a date.

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