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Old Jun-01-2011, 06:56 AM
#1
onethumb is offline onethumb OP
SmugMug CEO & Chief Geek
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Get a Sneak Peek at SmugMug's new design!
First, the disclaimer: We're not done yet, by a long shot. Nothing is set in stone, and there will be bugs.

We've been furiously working at overhauling SmugMug from the ground up based on a ton of customer feedback, especially from Dgrinners. We're ready to enter the next phase of gathering customer feedback in addition to our existing user testing.



If we've done our job well, you'll look at it and think "wow, that looks like SmugMug - only faster and more refined". We love our product, and know you do too, so you won't find a drastic shift in direction here. Under the hood, though, there's been a massive amount of work rebuilding everything from infrastructure to design.

First, though, let me explain our biggest goals so you'll know what we're trying to achieve:

1. Sexier. At SmugMug, it's all about the photos. But over time, the UI had gotten a little distracting - too many buttons, too many graphic elements, and not enough pop. We want the UI to fade into the background while your photos take center stage.

2. Customizable. We've re-architected the entire way our pages operate so that it's far easier, and more future-proof, for you to customize to your hearts content. Better CSS, better JS, and lots more power.

3. Commerce. We've heard loud and clear from tons of our customers - from our beloved Soccer Moms to high-volume Pros - that the Buy button is too hard to find buried among all the other buttons and elements. We've had customers ask us when we're going to start selling prints!

4. Easier. We've streamlined your controls and made them context-sensitive - the photo tools are with the photo, your account tools follow you from page to page. The header is now "smart" and shows you relevant controls based on the page you're on.

5. Faster. Our internal goal is to have SmugMug behave as fast as a desktop application in modern browsers on broadband. We still have work to do - but wait until you see how lighting fast changing photos & pages is, not to mention opening the Lightbox.



As I mentioned, we're not done yet. Some of the things you'll see that we're still tweaking and testing include (but aren't limited to):

- The Buy button. We're testing a number of different variations, including less color and more subtle versions, to see which one(s) work best without destroying the look of the page. No matter what we settle on, you'll likely have a few one-click variations in the Easy Customizer at your fingertips, and of course, can replace it with whatever you'd like with Advanced Customization. Please let us know what you'd prefer so we can mix that into our data-driven user testing around what's most effective.

- Colors & icons for gallery states like Unlisted, Passworded, etc. These will almost certainly change (I don't like the way we have them now), but we're still designing and testing the variations. If you see some you like during this testing period, speak up!

- Captions. We continue to tweak how they look and where they belong on the page. Certainly interested in any feedback about that you might have.

There are some important features that we're not quite done with yet, including:

- Maps.
- A date picker in the Timeline view.
- 3rd party options in the Buy menu.
- Themes (we should have the first one ready for testing soon)
- A context-sensitive Share menu in the header that travels with you and allows you to share any publicly accessible page with your favorite sharing mechanism.
- A rich text editor for things like Captions and Descriptions which will let you add color and flair without needing to know HTML.

There are some big changes that I'd like to quickly highlight:

- PhotoRank. Our PhotoRank algorithm has continued to evolve over time, and this is yet another one of those evolutions. The thumbs up / thumbs down metaphor is gone, and we instead rely on other signals (many of which we've always used already, some of which are new) to determine how popular a photo is. As usual, we won't disclose specifics and it's always a moving target, but this is a big change.

- Style. The days of visitor-controlled Style settings are gone. They were mostly an artifact of a time when people had slower connections (modems) and smaller screens (800x600), both of which are essentially gone. The gallery's owner (you) now has total control over exactly how your visitors see your photos.

- Anonymous comments. They're gone. You must have a SmugMug or Facebook Connect login to leave a comment at SmugMug. The abusive anonymous comment problem, even with our moderator tools, is just getting too large.

- HTML in Captions, Descriptions, etc. To make this new design work properly, we had to get a little more aggressive about what can and cannot belong in places like photo Captions. Basic formatting, like colors, still works (and as I said above, we're building a tool to facilitate that even better than we do now), but potentially page-destroying HTML isn't anymore.

Finally, let me go over the rollout and migration plan. We think it has a few phases, which I'll outline, but this could change at any moment:

1. Browser-based user feedback. That's what we're launching today. You can go opt-in your browser and play with the new look & feel, but no changes occur on your account. You're visitors will continue to see everything just the way it's always been. We're anxious to get your feedback, and see some real-world activity on it, in addition to the user testing we've already been conducting.

2. More pages. We'll be adding these new design goodies to other pages. Eventually everything will look & behave this way, but we're working on a few specific important pieces first.

3. Account-based user feedback. In the not-too-distant future, you'll be able to manually change your account over to the new design. Lots of employees are already chomping at the bit for this (including yours truly). Both uncustomized and customized customers will be able to do this.

4. Default for new accounts, & default for non-customized legacy accounts. At this point, we'll switch everyone who has no customization over to the new design, and all new signups will use the new design.

5. Migration window. We'll announce a specific migration window (many months - I'd guess a 6-12 month window) during which everyone with customization will be given the information needed to move their existing customizations over, test them, and then switch their accounts. We'll provide all kinds of resources and assistance with this.

6. Done! We'll flip the big switch and the new look & feel will be the default. We expect it to take quite awhile to get to this phase, but assume most Dgrinners will manually move over long before this.

Last, but certainly not least, here's how to activate your Sneak Peek: http://www.smugmug.com/darkroom/ Simply click 'JOIN' to set a cookie on your browser (not your account!) which will let you see the new gallery style. All done? Just go back and click 'LEAVE'.

Note that if you have a custom domain, you'll need to visit the /darkroom/ page on your custom domain as well.

Thanks for all your feedback already - this new design wouldn't have been possible without your help - and thanks in advance for all the feedback we're about to get. As you know, everything we build at SmugMug comes straight from customer feedback, so let us have it! :)
Old Jun-01-2011, 06:57 AM
#2
onethumb is offline onethumb OP
SmugMug CEO & Chief Geek
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FAQ:

Q. What phase is this in development?
A. This is a pre-Alpha preview for our most important customers. We still have lots of work to do (months), but we wanted to involve our community to gather feedback. We still have a lot of un-answered questions internally, so we apologize if we can't give you definitive answers. It's usually because we just don't know ourselves! Thanks in advance for helping us figure it out. :)

Q. What about my customizations?
A. We knew this would be an important issue too. We're too early to go into all the details (we're still figuring them out), but we can say that one of the biggest goals of this new design is to make customization even more powerful, not limit it. There will be a painful migration process, which we'll be helping with as much as we can (details still to come), but we're focused on getting the basic design right first. We'll tackle customization next - and it's been part of the design process all along, so we're not starting from scratch. In the end, you'll be able to do a whole lot more with the new design than you ever could with the old one. We made plenty of bad choices that you've all had to live with for years - we think we've fixed all of those and are much more future-proof with this new design. We have a dedicated thread about customization and the new design. Please post there, otherwise we'll just move your post. We want to keep this thread open to smaller issues rather than a heated discussion on just one issue.

Q. Can I just opt out of this entirely and stay on 'old SmugMug'?
A. For a long period of time, this should be possible. We haven't yet determined how long, but based on customer feedback, we'll see how long this could be. How this affects many of the major new features, some of which have been asked for for years, has yet to be determined - but I think it's likely that deciding to stay on 'old SmugMug' will also mean not getting 'new SmugMug' features. I don't see how we could do it any other way, but at least you'll have the choice. 'old SmugMug' *will not* be available forever - but we'll do our best to keep it around for as long as we can if customers continue to demand it. Our company is built on doing what customers want, so we're listening closely.

Q. Why can't I edit my Gallery Descriptions inline?
A. It's coming soon. It'll be have much like in-line editing of Captions & Keywords does now.

Q. What about [category | subcategory | home | other] pages or [Journal | Old Journal | Slideshow | etc] styles?
A. For this test, we're focused entirely on this gallery style. The test will expand to other pages & styles in the future. Please focus your comments and feedback on the gallery page for now

Q. What about Facebook + SmugMug only logins for comments?
A. Facebook has nearly 700M people using it, so it's easily the first target for getting rid of anonymous comments, which cause many of our customers lots of heartache. Adding other services with large pools of customers (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc) makes a lot of sense - we'll investigate and see how feasible that is.

Q. I'm not sure I like the new page navigation. Is it set in stone?
A. Nope, we're gathering feedback. We've tried over a hundred different ways of doing page navigation, and are stilly playing with it, but this is our most popular attempt thus far. It's by far the most "discoverable" to clients & friends who've never landed on a SmugMug gallery before, takes up the least amount of room on the page, optimizes the thumbnails to do double-duty, doesn't get lost below the fold on low-resolution displays, is graphically appealing, etc. The list goes on. We're well aware this is a change, so we'd really appreciate feedback from you after you've used it for a few days, to let the "newness" factor wear off.

Q. What about HTML in gallery descriptions?
A. It's back! You have full HTML control once more in your gallery descriptions. If you'd like to discuss further, we have a dedicated thread about this over here. Please post there, otherwise we'll just move your post. We want to keep this thread open to smaller issues rather than a heated discussion on just one issue.

Q. I like small thumbs! Hey, I like big thumbs!
A. Clearly a heated topic. We don't have a solution yet, but our current thinking is that the SmugMug default view will continue to auto-pick, with some important improvements, the size of your thumbs, but that it can easily be overridden with customization including simply selecting a Theme.

Q. Ok, I'm mostly liking the paging interface, but the "super thumbs" stick out too much
A. We agree. Watch for a rev shortly that has a better designed improvement. We wanted to make sure usability was high before devoting too much time to the actual visual design, but it's certainly time for that.
Old Jun-01-2011, 06:57 AM
#3
onethumb is offline onethumb OP
SmugMug CEO & Chief Geek
onethumb's Avatar
7/8/11 - Among lots of small changes based on your feedback, we have:
* Gallery descriptions once again have unrestricted HTML
* New page navigation which solves the "can't find the arrows" and "the arrows are below the fold" problems
* Captions aren't truncated
* Captions are pinned to the photo
* Keywords are lean & mean
* Keywords are pinned to the caption
* Slideshow button in a more prominent place
* Performance improvements

7/21/11 - Among some other minor tweaks, we have:
* Inline editing of Captions & Keywords. Gallery Description coming soon!

6/28/12 - we've removed this from /darkroom while we work on everything associated with this rollout.
Old Jun-01-2011, 09:46 AM
#4
webowner is offline webowner
Big grins
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Excellent ~ Am looking forward to this; new gallery designs and features...
Old Jun-01-2011, 09:56 AM
#5
jfriend is offline jfriend
Scripting dude-volunteer
Lots of cool changes. I can see you've changed a lot and speed is massively faster. It will take awhile for me to digest all the changes and comment, but I will do so over the next few days.

First questions about JS customizations for galleries:
  • What hookable JS events are there for the gallery pages (ways for a user script to fire after things are dynamically put in the page)?
  • Will YUI2 code continue to work or do we have to convert to YUI3?
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Old Jun-01-2011, 10:17 AM
#6
glacierworld is offline glacierworld
Montana Style
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I'm excited to see the new site. When did clicked the green button, nothing happened...

My biggest question with this new UI is will it include a "lightbox" feature where my end clients can edit down their images and share their "lightbox" with others? I'm a assignment/stock photographer and when I share shoots - my client wants a way edit them down to their selection for me to deliver to them. If you could allow them to do their own "lightbox" (collection) that would be great. I understand that you have an "event" feature but this doesnt work quite right. I also have clients that go to my general site and pick out their fav 5 - 10 images for use in an ad, story, etc.... Do you think anything like this is possible or in the works? Or is there any type of way to customize the site to allow for clients to "lightbox" their favs?

Cheers,
Craig
Old Jun-01-2011, 10:54 AM
#7
Hikin' Mike is online now Hikin' Mike
Walkin' like a Penguin!
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I'm I missing something (as usual). I don't see any change....
Old Jun-01-2011, 10:57 AM
#8
jfriend is offline jfriend
Scripting dude-volunteer
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hikin' Mike View Post
I'm I missing something (as usual). I don't see any change....
You have to go here: http://www.smugmug.com/goodies/, enable the new style by pressing the Join button (on both regular and custom domains), then view your own galleries in the Smugmug style while logged in. You should see a new gallery display style. I see no difference on homepage or category pages - only on gallery pages.
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Old Jun-01-2011, 10:59 AM
#9
glacierworld is offline glacierworld
Montana Style
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hikin' Mike View Post
I'm I missing something (as usual). I don't see any change....

Mike, I dont see anything either. It says if you have a custom domain to goto smugmug and click "join" i dont see any of those buttons on my homepage or on smugmug... so how do we opt to see these updates? I'm dieing to know if there is a "lightbox" feature so my clients and edit down a shoot.

Cheers,
Craig
Old Jun-01-2011, 11:11 AM
#10
hoffmcs is offline hoffmcs
Major grins
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Looks great. Can't wait to kick the tires some.
Old Jun-01-2011, 11:15 AM
#11
Allen is online now Allen
"tweak 'til it squeaks"
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The big bar under the photo takes up way too much room and completely
distracts from the caption. Move it below the caption.

Where is the albumNav_top? Can it be turned on? And bottom photo nav turned off?

Lightbox: Why does it say "auto" instead if "size" at top? Auto means
absolutely nothing to most people. I even hesitated to click it. Seems
we're getting too cute instead of just saying what it is.

Lightbox photos are clicked to return to gallery, for videos in lightbox you
have to hit the close or new X in upper corner. This is not intuitive to most
and I currently have a modified more obvious colorfull "close" button.
There's plenty of room so make a button that says "Close Video" and is
very obvious.

If I have a page scrolled slightly the lightbox opens in that position and
the top nav and part of photo/video is above the screen.

Looks like it wiped out my gallery description formatting. Lost the
formatting using tables. This is NOT acceptable. HTML in gallery description
is an absolute necessity. And the whole description has to be shown not
just one line.
I have links info in the gallery description that is not visible
without clicking "more". This has to be visible. Gallery .. Gallery

This is going to destroy just about every html type page that uses the
description and is set to smugmug style.

I click "more" on the gallery description with no way to pick "less".

Not many people I know use Facebook or have a Smugmug account. Even
if the did why should they have to first log in to one of those just to leave
a comment? I get a lot of guest comments.
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Old Jun-01-2011, 11:33 AM
#12
Allen is online now Allen
"tweak 'til it squeaks"
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What happened to the "arrange" photo toggle under the main photo? Use it all the time.
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Old Jun-01-2011, 11:48 AM
#13
MileHighAko is offline MileHighAko
GWC
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Nice! I like the changes. I can't wait to see what type of customizations we can make to this new display. Keep it up.
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Old Jun-01-2011, 11:52 AM
#14
gluwater is offline gluwater
SmugMug Technical Account Manager
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glacierworld View Post
Mike, I dont see anything either. It says if you have a custom domain to goto smugmug and click "join" i dont see any of those buttons on my homepage or on smugmug... so how do we opt to see these updates? I'm dieing to know if there is a "lightbox" feature so my clients and edit down a shoot.

Cheers,
Craig
Hey Craig, Go to this page and click the Join button.

http://www.smugmug.com/goodies/

Also do it from your custom domain, ie http://yourdomain.com/goodies and switch out yourdomain.com with your actual custom domain that you use with your SmugMug account.

Sorry but there's no Lightbox feature yet Craig.
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Old Jun-01-2011, 12:28 PM
#15
Hikin' Mike is online now Hikin' Mike
Walkin' like a Penguin!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfriend View Post
You have to go here: http://www.smugmug.com/goodies/, enable the new style by pressing the Join button (on both regular and custom domains), then view your own galleries in the Smugmug style while logged in. You should see a new gallery display style. I see no difference on homepage or category pages - only on gallery pages.
I got it now.

Looks like it wipes out my customize theme. Not liking that....
Old Jun-01-2011, 01:24 PM
#16
richpepp is offline richpepp
curious
In general I like the new style, feel and speed. My comments looking at a sample gallery of http://photos.miseast.org/Afghanista...-to-the-people would be:

The photo captions are below the fold on my 1280x800 laptop screen. The captions are an important part of the photo and should be above the edit/facebook etc. bar as Allen pointed out

I understand why the gallery description has been cut down but I think it has been cut down too far. Would it be possible to specify the number of lines that you show rather than just truncating after half a line and providing a 'more' link? Also I'm not sure that the gallery description is stretching as far as the right hand edge of the photo.

What I would really love is to have the embeddable slideshow link use HTML5 so it will show on iPads as well

Thank you for keeping this stuff all up to date
Old Jun-01-2011, 01:42 PM
#17
T. Bombadil is offline T. Bombadil
Major grins
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Love it!
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Old Jun-01-2011, 02:19 PM
#18
Andy is offline Andy
Bicameral
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hikin' Mike View Post
I got it now.

Looks like it wipes out my customize theme. Not liking that....
That is expected - customizing will come soon - please read Don's post carefully
Old Jun-01-2011, 02:29 PM
#19
Hikin' Mike is online now Hikin' Mike
Walkin' like a Penguin!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy View Post
That is expected - customizing will come soon - please read Don's post carefully
Reading/comprehension isn't one of my strong point after my stroke!

I got it now!
Old Jun-01-2011, 03:21 PM
#20
denisegoldberg is offline denisegoldberg
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I have very mixed feelings about your new design. Yes, it looks more modern and cleaner - but I believe there are some aspects of it that are less usable.

I agree with John and Allen - working HTML in a gallery description is a must have. I use that currently to replace the smug breadcrumb in my photo galleries, but HTML and CSS also play a large part in galleries on my site that I use to highlight my work, including my Kaleidoscope page (http://www.denisegoldberg.com/Medley...46145545_kcCkw), and my Galleries by date page (http://www.denisegoldberg.com/Medley...15315804_U5BLK).

I'm also using HTML-only pages in place of the smug category and subcategory pages for two reasons - the thumbs on the standard smug category / subcategory pages are too small to entice viewers to visit a gallery, and the current category / subcategory / gallery structure is too limiting. I don't believe I will be too happy going back to standard category / subcategory pages unless you fix both the thumb size (and don't give me another size of your choice - let me specify the size) and you supply a deeper structure but also give me the ability to mix the entries at the top level. For an example, look at the top page in my Travel category - http://www.denisegoldberg.com/Focus/.../4859072_Z5YkN. The first thumb on the page opens a single gallery, the second thumb opens the equivalent of a subcategory, the third opens a gallery. Will I be able to get that functionality from standard smug pages?

Comments on the new design in smugmug style:

The new breadcrumb structure looks good. Unfortunately I suspect going back to using it means losing my large thumbs and my multi-tiered structure.

The buy button is prominent. That's good.

The slideshow button and the paging controls are buried at the bottom of the page. My eyes just don't look to the bottom of the page for control buttons. I want all of these on the same level as the buy button. You can make the buy button more prominent just with the graphic you are using - it does not need to be on a line by itself.

The fact that the paging arrows have no text to identify what the button pages gives a cleaner look but it does not provide any way for a new viewer to the site to know what will change when the click the arrows. Please add an icon to each to indicate that clicking with advance to the next page or advance to the next photo. Or put the text back. Or give me an option to show an icon or text.

The gallery description currently shows only one line. There is a more button to open it, but no way to close it again. If I need to continue using my own breadcrumb then I also need to be able to show two lines of the gallery description by default - one for my gallery name, and one for my breadcrumb replacement. The gallery owner should be able to control how much or how little of the description shows. I'd like that control both at a site level and I'd like to be able to override it at a gallery level.

I'm currently using a javascript hack that reserves more room for the photo in smugmug style. Based on your new design I assume that this hack will no longer work.

Requiring that someone have either a smugmug or a facebook logon to leave comments is a really bad thing. Many of my viewers use neither - I guess that means that I'll no longer be able to get comments from my viewers. Why not add more logins, including Google and others? And Facebook? Sorry, that's not a site I want anything to do with. Yes I know, many many people use it. But I also know I'm not alone in my desire to stay away from there.

It's clearly going to be work on my part to change my customizations over to your new style. I hope that you have added the ability for me to define a tag with multiple CSS properties that I can then assign to a set of galleries. That would make customizations much easier to maintain - especially when the same customization is applied to multiple galleries.

I look forward to hearing your feedback on my comments - please don't be silent, I want to know more about how you will allow me to continue using my structure in the new world.

--- Denise
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