Thursday, June 27, 2013

Time for a BRAND NEW web site for JeffCable.com

For those of you who have been along for the ride for the last 7 or 8 years, you may be familiar with the old jeffcable.com web site. Well...after all these years, it was time for a refresh! In this blog post I want to tell you about my dilemma, my research, my choice of web service, the challenges of rebuilding my entire web site on a new platform, and ultimately the joy and benefits of this process.

The new web site (which is live now) at www.jeffcable.com

First of all, I should tell you that the thought of building a completely new web site on a new platform was right up there with getting a root canal or being locked in a small dark closet. If I had not been forced to switch, I probably would have postponed this task for a really long time. But, as it was, I did need to make a switch. Why? Because my web site was designed on Apple's iWeb program, which Apple has discontinued.

A screen shot of my old web site designed in Apple's iWeb application

I really liked using iWeb for the following reasons:

1. It was incredibly simple to setup and use.
2. I could add images by simply dragging and dropping them.
3. I could upload any web site changes with one button.
4. I could add widgets (like a count down clock or web map) with one click.

(I have to tell you now, that after using this new service, most of the iWeb benefits don't hold up any more.)

Knowing that Apple was no longer supporting the program and also knowing that a new Mac OS was coming soon (with no guarantees that iWeb would work properly on the new OS), I knew that I had to move to a new application or service quickly. As I mentioned before, it killed me to start over when I had a web process that has been working for so long.

So...I started researching Mac applications that might import all of my iWeb content. I even went as far as to download some trial versions to test the waters. None of them seemed very good and I really did not want to use a program from a tiny company across the world which could fold at any time.

A couple of months went by, and I decided to postpone the search, the same way I postpone my major dental appointments. And then one day, I got an email from a photographer asking some questions and I went to his web site. I thought "Wow, this site looks great!" so after responding to his question, I asked him which service he was using. He told me he was using Zenfolio.

I knew about Zenfolio, since we had talked many years ago, but had never tried setting up a site using their service.


But before making a major decision that I would be committed to for many years to come, I decided to ask people on my Facebook Fan Page what they were all using. As it turned out, most of them were using Squarespace or Zenfolio. And both received high ratings from my trusty followers. I figured it was time to give Zenfolio a try.


If you look at the date of my Facebook post, you will notice that it was posted on June 4th, only 23 days ago. I first logged into Zenfolio on June 5th and honestly, within 3 days I had almost all of my web site designed on their platform, and a week later I switched the C Record and A Record of my provider and I was live.

After using Zenfolio for the last 3 weeks while fine tuning the site, here is my impression:

1. I had no idea how restricted I was by iWeb. All website changes had to be made on my studio computer. So, even though I am on the road all the time, I had to wait to get back to California to update the site. Since Zenfolio is all web based, I can make changes to the site from virtually anywhere. I look forward to adding new Olympic images to the Home Page while in Sochi, Russia. Hallelujah!!!

2. Those widgets in iWeb, which I thought were impossible to reproduce, are readily available on the Internet, and simple to drop into Zenfolio. You can see this with the Olympic Countdown Clock on http://www.jeffcable.com/olympics-galleries

3. I have always wanted large slideshows on my site, and now I have them for all my portfolios. I love that!

4. I can now have drop-down menus from the main menu bar, so the key pages are available from everywhere on the site.

5. Zenfolio has the ability to sell images from their platform. I have set up one area for that (here) and may add to this in the future.

6. The interface took a little getting used to, but this is true with any new platform. Now I am familiar with almost all aspects of Zenfolio and have been able to create lots of custom pages and add some fun stuff.

7. I can make global changes to the web site. In other words, I can change font colors, background colors, even the entire theme and have all of that changed on the entire site.

8. They have live online chat so I can contact them with questions. Any they have been incredibly patient and helpful, as I have barraged them with questions.

9. I am so hooked on Zenfolio, that I contacted them, and after some discussion, I agreed to let them link to my site and use me as a featured photographer for them. (And no, I am not being paid to promote them. I always promote those tools which help us all succeed.)

So...check out the finished product at www.jeffcable.com and let me know what you think! I would love to hear your opinions and suggestions.

Note: Along with the new web site design, I decided to update the look of the blog as well. I hope you all like it.

11 comments:

Tom Collins said...

Jeff, thanks for sharing this info. Your site on Zenfolio looks great! I have been with them quite a while, but only use on of their standard templates.



Is there a book that gives step-by-step guidance on how to set up a custom page on Zenfolio?



Thanks, and congratulations on the smooth transition.

Jeff Cable said...

Tom - Thanks. Glad you like the new site. Honestly, I started with one of their templates and then edited that theme to make my own. I just played around with the options (font colors, images, backgrounds) and made my own. It was very simple. Try it out!

And...what is your site?

Jeff

Anonymous said...

Either my browser isn't working or your new website doesn't have your name on it (logo)...nuthing...the top is just blank white??

Javier Jr. said...

Great information Jeff as always! I guess it's time for me to setup a web site!!

chris bowen said...

Jeff,
I like your new Zenfoilo website. I like that when using Mobile devices it automatically transitions from flash to HTML 5.
Chris Bowen

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Well done, just amazing images.
joni

Mike said...

Just switched myself a few months back and I'm glad I did. For the same price I'm now getting so much more than my last site afforded me to do. I can even sell off of my site now which was something my previous one would have charged me double for. It was so easy to set up. I love it.

David Liam Kyle said...

Hey Jeff, Great website and welcome to the Zenfolio Pro Team! I have been using Zenfolio for years and love how easy it is to use along with their video tutorials.


David Liam Kyle

Velva said...

This is cool!

Anonymous said...

Hey there Jeff what a story. I Have done the same thing; I found that having all those icons were getting old. I decide to go worth Zenfoilo also. I just started with the website . I have decide what's the best prices to go with I'm in the trail. with in the next couple of day I need to choice what I want to go with and what I can afford because I'm just starting out. Any suggestion would be great. thank you! Colleen

Jeff Cable said...

I would recommend the Premium package (at minimum) since you want a fully branded site and support. You can use the code "Cable20" to get a 20% discount! :)