confused clients

Having received yet another email from a potential client struggling and failing navigate through the shopping process, I've been trying to find any guidance available from Zen. result zilch!

There are a couple of U tube videos from Zen members but nothing from Zen themselves

However, Smug Mug have an excellent video which can be embedded as help on site

Am I missing something or is this another zen area which is failing to support our businesses?


  • Kevin KrowsKevin Krows United StatesMember Posts: 1,462
    Can I ask if you use the "Categories Based Shopping Experience" or Product Based Shopping Experience" in you price sheet setup?

    Also, do you allow your customers to adjust the crop or do color conversions to Black/White & Sepia in your price sheets.

    What is the total number of products you offer for sale? Do you allow customers to add mounting, frames, mats, glass? How about the number of paper finishes for your prints.

    Finally, what kind of photographer are you? Sports, portrait, landscape, wedding, commercial, editorial?

    I will make point later after you post your response.
  • Bonzer PhotosBonzer Photos Member Posts: 52
    Thanks Kevin - a considered comment will be welcome.

    I'm based in the uk,my site is nearly all motorsport.

    Pricing is product based from mpix.

    There are 32 prints and 6 digital downloads plus the range of souvenirs(32), greetings cards (12),specialities(26), fotoflots(28)

    Prints are customer cropable and there are 3 print finishes offered- I do not offer mats, mounting, frames,glass etc

    Your points will be appreciated
  • Kevin KrowsKevin Krows United StatesMember Posts: 1,462
    @Bonzer Photos - Thanks for the details. Over the past 12 months I have done some real soul searching on the topic of what's actually causing some of my clients confusion. I completely dismissed that any points of confusion were created by Zenfolio's shopping cart development and that nothing that I was doing was causing some of my clients heads to spin off their shoulders. Boy was I wrong about that.

    Any time I had a customer say they were confused, I simply listened. Bottom line, I was to blame for their confusion because I was offering too many products, with various options (papers, finishes), and then asking them to do more work buy cropping the image to their liking.

    There were some issues that Zenfolio was responsible for like not listing the shipping options from lowest to highest and clicking on a featured product only to be navigated to a full product list rather than adding the item to the clients cart. However, those issues have been resolved.

    I now offer no more than 10 products, use only one paper type and one finish, don't allow clients to crop or do color conversions. All the need to do is add the item to their cart and check out. Since making these changes my sales are up 30%.

    Before you say, "'re nuts!" Try to look at your site from your clients perspective particularly those that are technically challenged and/or have little to no experience ordering something over the internet. While it makes sense to you and the majority of your clients who already know how to use your site, it's like learning a foreign language to others. If they don't understand...they wont' buy. It's really that simple.

    Good luck.
  • Bonzer PhotosBonzer Photos Member Posts: 52
    Thanks Kevin

    I've been thinking that I should revise my prices anyway as they've not increased since 2010. I'll cut down on the options and range of products and see what happens.

    I should like to put a help video as a feature request but I don't want to hold up any more of the things we urgently need


  • Kevin KrowsKevin Krows United StatesMember Posts: 1,462
    David - Pull up your sales report and choose products. That should tell you what your customers are buying and not buying.

    Also, every thought about doing your own training videos using your site. Cam Studo is a free application that lets you create videos using recording of your computer desktop. You can also plug in a mic and record narrations as well. I've done these in the past but with all the changes in the past year the videos were getting a bit outdated. I'm going to do new ones after the first of next year after all the shopping cart changes have been implemented.
  • ShutterjunkyShutterjunky Member Posts: 4
    edited October 2016
    I have been with zenfolio since day one. I have never signed in here to voice my opinion. I have been very patient and passed along client complaints, waited patiently for changes to be made and finally 12 years later, we got a new shopping cart. Yay!!! I thought. Finally it is going to be GREAT!!!! But I am so disappointed. It used to be a very affordable place to have a portfolio and sell your work. But lately, I have been very disappointed.

    In 12 or more years since I have had my zenfolio site, i have never had a client who didn't need help with the confusing shopping cart. I have eaten up endless hours making videos to show clients how to order and now all those videos are obsolete because it is completely different now. The enlarged gallery view is gone. It goes right to a light box view. I don;t mind that but it is hard to get used to. The shopping cart does not show consistent samples of the products. for instance, in the metal prints section, you show the pretty scalloped edged Luxe Metal print. But when you scroll down you do not see pictures of that anywhere. a client has to click on each title and read the description of the product. It is not until you click ADD that you can see a generic and very tiny image of the scalloped metal print. No one and I mean no one is going to know that they have to click on ADD in order to see an example of the product. No one is going to want to add something just to look at it. They will think they are buying it. I have 30 years experience in web design and graphic design and marketing. If you can't hold a clients interest, they are gone. If the shopping experience is too hard, they are gone.

    100% of my clients have been confused with ordering. Even my videos didn't help. People give up very easily. The excitement of the purchase fades and they just click out. The buying process has to be easy and quick and very visually stimulating with visual examples, not lengthy text descriptions of something they can not see. People need to buy their prints fast so they don't have time to regret it or think twice. Your cart is so difficult, and worse with the new changes, that my clients are just giving up. I spent a week with a client just now with numerous very detailed instructions on how to order, conversations on the phone, texts, and it was not worth the sale. I was embarrassed and found myself making excuses for the very unorganized and very dysfunctional shopping experience.

    Personally, I am looking for a new place to sell. This is a huge and very difficult decision and one that I would rather not have to make but I can not afford your site anymore. and in order to get tech support, I have to have the $504 a year account?? I don"t know if you guys sold out to a big corporation or if you just got greedy, but if you are going to charge that AND make a profit off our sales, you had better have the best shopping cart on the web and you do not.

    I am really disappointed in the changes. My price list had to be redone because of it as all my products were not using my formula anymore. and instead of being able to click select all and tell all my products to use the formula, I had to go through and click on hundreds and hundreds of product individually to turn the formula on. In some cases there was a difference of $3 on a product or more.

    Personally, I have been here 12+ years. My photos and my reputation has helped make zenfolio and I am very disappointed in the changes and frankly with the attitude you have developed. For instance, charging to help your loyal customers that helped build you. You would be nothing without us. Your greed is showing and I am ready to take the huge loss and leave zenfolio. that is how dissatisfied I am in things over the past few years. Photographers are a very tight group. We all know each other and a domino effect happens when one of us is unhappy the others tend to realize there are better places to sell then here. The ONLY reason I am still here is that I have 12 years invested in this and one heck of a lot of work. All my marketing tools have this address, my business cards, brochures, fliers, ads and everything are based on my zenfolio account.

    If you look back to day one and find out who was one of, if not the first one to create a zenfolio account, I would not be surprised if the name was mine. All of these complaints are based on 12 years of client complaints to me. I am simply telling you what my clients have been complaining to me about for years. One thing I can say is the quality of your prints is excellent, it is just too bad that people can't figure out the cart to buy one.
    Post edited by Shutterjunky on
  • Kevin KrowsKevin Krows United StatesMember Posts: 1,462
    In Zenfolio's defense, they have made several changes that had made the shopping experience less confusing for clients over the past year:

    1. The lowest cost shipping method is now the default. Clients can then upgrade from there like most other e-commerce sites. Prior to that, the default was set at Priority Mail making it appear that we were taking advantage of our clients by charging outrageous shipping fees. What they didn't catch was the fact that they could downgrade their shipping to the lower cost. Downgrading shipping is not the standard and is not intuitive.

    2. When clients would add items to their cart from the featured gallery list (using the list-based price sheet option), they were taken to yet another screen which displayed the same list of products which they needed to choose the item a second time. Today, if they select an item from the Featured Product List, the item is simply added to the cart and the client is not navigated away from the image they just ordered.

    3. If a photographer did not allow the client to crop or do color conversions, they still were taken to a "customize screen" where they simply could not do anything. Today, it's much more stream lined and the customer is not taken to a customize screen.

    4. To get the best prices on lab print's you had to use MPIX and MPIX Pro. If a customer placed an order for small prints and a couple of large prints they would incur two separate shipping charges. Thanks to Arnaud, the best prices are now found under one model (MPIX Pro) thus eliminating the issue.

    5. The Zenfolio site is vastly improved since the infrastructure was upgraded at the beginning of the year. Everything from image renderings, upload speeds, and over all stability has been outstanding. Granted, there have been a few "brown outs" from time to time but all where identified and corrective action taken to make sure the same issue never happened again.

    NOW..... the bad news and what concerns me the most!

    1. Zenfolio is tinkering with the shopping cart adding features that really don't ad any functional value to the overall client experience. The development team wants us to believe that there is value but there really isn't any. They are simply making changes for the sake of "change" and are risking substantial client confusion both short and long term.

    2. The Development Team understands technical development and design very well. Simplifying and streamlining features is counter intuitive to the way a developer thinks. It also won't win them any "outstanding web design awards" either. The Business Process Team needs to lead the development team when it comes to e-commerce as they know best what the needs of the clients (our clients) are. Their focus needs to be on the "Path to least Resistance" for the client ordering process. They have done a great job over the past two years with this BUT ARE HEADED IN THE WRONG DIRECTION IF THESE SHOPPING CART CHANGES ARE ALLOWED TO PERMANENT CHANGES AFTER THE END OF THE YEAR.

    I have made my case directly with the General Manager and members of the development team. I think they are listening to my points but it's very hard to tell. While some of the changes may help those photographers that use the "Category Based" Price Sheet Option, it will be a disaster for those that use the "Product List Based" Price Sheet Option.

    Waiting until after the first of the year is not the time to voice your concern. Now is your chance...not later. I first WARNED Everyone on September 20th -

  • I'm very disappointed with the shopping cart. I don't think I've had one customer that did not complain about it and need help. I thought the new changes would make it better but I have not seen much improvement and only more problems on my end. I recently had a client call me and tell me how much they HATED trying to purchase photos from my website. This was also a younger person used to buying online.


    Totally agree, the new changes just seem to be a 'featured products' list with fewer customisation options and no choice of layouts. I have had few issues with people not being able to get through the checkout process but the feedback I hear most is that there are too many screens... I think you need to go through about 6 screens to actually pay for something!
  • John Watson Photography LSWPPJohn Watson Photography LSWPP Southampton, UKMember Posts: 111
    I tried turning on the new quick shop as its now available in the UK. Needless to say I've now turned it off again :)

    Sorry, not a fan of it. please dont make it compulsory in its current form. I love the "dim the lights" option on my site and find this to be the easiest way for clients to "buy" prints, it also looks the best (imo)

    the quick shop takes the "dim the lights" option away.

    Ive just returned to Zen from shootproof as I think zen is a better overall package, but guys, you really need to try there shopping cart, its so easy for customers to use. must be able to do something similar?

    biggest thing for my is "LESS CLICKS FOR THE CLIENT"

    Make it simple, less clicks, One simple buttons like "buy" or "download" thats all we need.

    bty, still dont understand why the "download" option is not fully under the "gallery access control" rather than having to check under the "customise website" or "quick shop" links just in case they are "on"
    why cant the "access control" be in full control of this and if "do not allow download" is selected, why can this not override the individual gallery?

  • Kevin KrowsKevin Krows United StatesMember Posts: 1,462


    "LEAVE THE PRODUCT BASED PRICE LIST SHOPPING EXPERIENCE ALONE!" DON'T TOUCH IT!!! Changing it will only cause confusion and send things in the wrong direction.

    "CATAGORY BASED PRICE LIST SHOPPING EXPERIENCE" - Might benefit from some of the changes that are being proposed as the goal is to sell a more robust line of products using the same image or a limited number of images.

  • I tried out the new shopping experience for about a week and then turned it off because I found it to be slow, and the check out was confusing to the customer. Plus, I was concerned that I would loose customer's due to the loading time of galleries. I too am concerned that we will be forced to go to the new shopping experience at which point will be time to look for a new provider.
  • This recent survey by the Nielsen Norman Group speaks @Kevin Krows sentiment about developers not in tune with what the user really needs because they are a bit too technically advanced for the majority of users.

    The Distribution of Users’ Computer Skills: Worse Than You Think

    "One of usability’s most hard-earned lessons is that you are not the user. This is why it’s a disaster to guess at the users’ needs. Since designers are so different from the majority of the target audience, it’s not just irrelevant what you like or what you think is easy to use — it’s often misleading to rely on such personal preferences.

    For sure, anybody who works on a design project will have a more accurate and detailed mental model of the user interface than an outsider. If you target a broad consumer audience, you will also have a higher IQ than your average user, higher literacy levels, and, most likely, you’ll be younger and experience less age-driven degradation of your abilities than many of your users.

    There is one more difference between you and the average user that’s even more damaging to your ability to predict what will be a good user interface: skills in using computers, the Internet, and technology in general. Anybody who’s on a web-design team or other user experience project is a veritable supergeek compared with the average population. This not just true for the developers. Even the less-technical team members are only “less-technical” in comparison with the engineers. They still have much stronger technical skills than most normal people."

    As a former end user computing person help desk person, I often ran into the gap between the way a front-end worked and how a user's wanted them to work was often quite wide. I also know, that once a design and functionality has been initiated, there is a lot of resistance to take a step back and ask, "is this really going to be an improvement of the UI experience?". Too much time and resources have been invested to change course.
  • Barbara JonesBarbara Jones Member Posts: 27
    Because Zenfolio stated that the new Shopping Experience would become compulsory, not an option, I converted just before Christmas. It looks ok on my PC, things load up quicker than before, ZF has always been a slow site, so that is a bonus, but I see on mobile ( my tablet ) that some of the text is cut off if viewing vertically. The actual BUY button is hidden ! The mobile has to be held horizontally for it to be seen. FAR more worrying is that my viewing figures have now plummeted to an all time low. Since categories / keywords no longer appear once a thumb is clicked on, taking us to a version of dim the lights, where our photo page used to be, could that affect SEO ?? I have also just been looking through the Most Popular galleries section of ZF........and found only one other member to be employing the new shopping experience....! Could Zenfolio confirm if it is an option or mandatory ? They said previously that all members would have to use it after the holiday period ended......??
  • Jetski Race PhotosJetski Race Photos Member Posts: 3
    I have been with Zen for more almost 20 years. I have been frustrated for many years. I looked at other platforms and stay with Zen because it would take me a significant amount of time to design two new sites. Zen management has little regard for our ideas, and no concern for our customers' experience in proofing and shopping. It takes them years to implement a simple design change. The shopping experience is terrible. I suggested a buying method that offers a great interface and, of course, they have no interest. Is there a way I can use Zen for client proofing and the purchase on a webpage at a different host?
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