Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Redesigning Smugmug

I have had a Smugmug account now for 4 months and after initially going with the default theme before I decided last week a change was in order. The black theme that is the standard smugmug was good but I felt that a lighter colour would really make my photos pop. I love smugmug, every since I was first pointed to it from Trey Ratcliffs Stuck in Customs blog in the summer of 2010. I think the way people have their portfolios setup there is fantastic. And one of the great things is that all the sites are unique. That is because of the number of ways there is to customize your site. 

First of all you can a professional site done by anyone who specializes in CSS or if you feel confident enough in your own coding skills there is an advanced customization section that will allow you to build your own site. Me, well I'm a photographer and a chemist and don't even know what CSS stands for without googling it so I went the Easy Customization route. 

By selecting Control Panel from the Tools on your homepage, you can select the 2nd last tab which is customize. As you can see from the picture above there are plenty of options under the customization section here,
  • Bio - fairly self explanatory really, tell your adoring fans about yourself
  • Easy Customizer - the option I choose, and what I'll explain further
  • Advanced Customizer - where the CSS experts can go and play
  • My Themes - build your own themes, again a knowledge of CSS required
  • All-Page Themes - this is where you can select one of the many, great-looking, themes that Smugmug has ready for you to select
Selecting edit at the Easy Customizer line brings up the preview screen (see below) where on the left you can see what your edits will look like on the right giving you various options.

All the edits that are made can be saved and previewed in this pane and when you are done, you can save your edits or publish your changes straight away or if you hate the changes you've made just start all over again. The options on the right make changing your Smugmug site to the way you want it very very simple. 

So lets go through the options;

Basic Appearance:

This lets you select light or dark and depending on your theme selected will change it accordingly. I've selected the default theme so my background comes out white and the dark option will make the background black. 

The browser options allow you to select what is displyed in the browser title and in the bookmarks.

The header section is one the sections where you can really make your mark on the site. 
The first option is to show/hide the smugmug header, I like to have mine hidden as I don't think it fits in with the scheme of my site.

Next is the custom banner section. Here you you can choose your banner to be either text or an image. If you choose an image, you navigate to an image on your computer to upload. If you choose text, there are plenty of options here. In the field you marked Text, enter what you want to be displayed e.g. Damian Synnott Photography. You can then select your font, font size, colour and the alignment. The best thing is that you see it all update in the left pane as you make changes.
The click to URL lets you set where your visitors go when they select the banner, mine sends my viewers back to the hompage. 

The navigation bar is an excellent tool and one I will deal with toward the end of this post. 

Here you can select what you want as your background. I selected just a block white colour but you can also choose a custom image from your computer or one of the default backgrounds that Smugmug provides for you. Looking around the many many Smugmug sites you can see what people can do with backgrounds to really make their site stand out.
The text options allow you to select the font and colours for the text you will use on your site. By clicking on the colour panel it will bring up options to enter the hexadecimal colour code or select colours from the rainbow selection on offer.

The photos options allow you to select the border colours of your photos. 

One of the great things about Smugmug is it allows you to disable right clicks on your photos, which stops people downloading your photos. Here you can send them a nice message if you want!

Here you have no choice but to leave the Smugmug brand on your set. You can select whether or not to show the full or mini Smugmug footer.

Of course you can always upload a custom footer from you computer. 

Now back to the navigation bar thats seen in the header options. When you select navigation bar builder this window pops up

Here you add as many as titles to your navigation bar. In the left box you give it whatever name you want. I have mine titled galleries, journal, black and white and cityscapes. In the second box, you can select a number of options, including URL (where you select your own URL) or you can point the title to any of your galleries or your own URL if you want. For example I use to journal link to point to this blog. 

The other options allow you to select font, font size, colours and all sorts of appearance options. 

So thats how I customized my Smugmug site, made it match my blog and now I'm really happy with its appearance. It's so easy even I could do it. 

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