I had my "individual consultation" recently with zenfolio, and as expected the small issues I am highly irritated with in terms of the front-facing UI that my audience views are not going to be addressed.
Overall my frustrations have me already to the point where I am already looking to what NEW platform I will be switching my site over to once my first year with them is up.
I am very happy I was able to get a site up quickly when I decided I wanted to pursue selling my work, vs having to build one on my own.
I am a Art Director / User Experience designer / Software and UI developer for a living and I can pretty much summarize that Zenfolio is another example of "engineering-lead design" — meaning that the company as a whole is more interested in building "new features" and back end behind the scenes code — and the user interface is something that "gets slapped on in the end."
Conversely it is the opposite that you'd get in a company such as an ad agency or a design studio where the focus is on the User Interface design and "look / feel" of an application — and it is just handed off to a group of "programmers to just slap some code on this thing and make it work"
I've professionally worked with teams on both ends of the "design vs engineering" spectrum and they are never successful unless they meet well in the middle.
It's obvious to me zenfolio doesn't care much about the experience of their "CUSTOMER's customers" — but rather just Zenfolio's customers (the people who pay them).
The fact people have been complaining about something as simple to fix as the ugly shopping cart icon on the "buy" button for 5+ years now (and it would take a developer 10 minutes to fix.... And I'd even give them half an hour to deal with the ancillary tasks of submitting a pull request, updating jira tickets, testing, and rolling it up into a batched release or patch).
My biggest glaring complaint — as small as it is... Is WHY THE HELL would they give you a WYSIWYG editor where you can customize every single aspect of your buttons EXCEPT that you cannot remove or change that complete piece of garbage "cart" icon?
Why can't I go through the site and make my icons CONSISTENT? Every single cart icon across the whole platform is a DIFFERENT ICON. Which tells me developers are being tasked as "designers" and "here, just slap some cart icon on here and cross off your jira ticket. Who cares about that artsy fartsy stuff."
Aside from that I think the photo view sucks. It takes away from the image with your descriptions and other thumnail images covering up the photograph. If you guys had an actual UI designer — he/she would agree. This is a PHOTOGRAPHY showcase and you are showcasing photography by covering up people's photos with user interface garbage that now becomes hard to read because it is ON TOP of a busy photo — thus killing the beauty shot of my photo AND the readability of my text at the same time.
Lastly, I will leave off that your checkout process is crap. It is way too confusing for a photo-buying customer. I know I can turn off the ability for users to crop their images, but then the preview image for selecting a frame becomes "centered" and not representational of what the user is going to receive. I do not want my customers cropping their own images for the same reason MySpace died because they let users "pimp out their own pages."
Nobody gave a crap about your zebra striped background with yellow cursive blinking text on top of it — along with 3 simultaneously playing MP3 files before crashing my web browser, and that's why Facebook killed them.
The whole checkout process is convoluted and pieces just feel like it was all "slapped together" by a bunch of engineers with no real design direction.
There is a VERY GOOD REASON that Amazon.com sued anyone who ALSO implemented a "one click" checkout process back when they "invented" that. Every time a user has to click between landing on your site and opening up their wallet to pull out the credit card — you lose a percentage of your audience.
If your checkout process is 20+ clicks to complete an order you can expect a very high abandon rate on your carts.
My ultimate solution is going to be a cms driven site I can manage myself, tied into a system that handles the checkout process and payment collection — and then dealing with sending my orders to the lab myself vs through this system, but for now I will deal with the limitations in Zenfolio.
Based on the fact every other forum post I read talks about how unresponsive Zenfolio is when it comes to user requests, especially on the horrible UI side of things for OUR customers (the customers of zenfolio's customers) — this platform will never reach the level of maturity where I will want to stay with them.
I'd say this is a good platform for getting off the ground quickly — but once you dig in and find out that you can't do much of ANYTHING in terms of customization (you can change your home page / make some changes to the gallery page(s) / and from there you are basically locked into a standard zenfolio look and feel any deeper you go...
I am going to have to look elsewhere when it's time to renew.
I'd like to hear other people's thoughts — but according to zenfolio, the things I want to fix are things I cannot fix in the platform, and items which zenfolio has absolutely no intention of ever fixing themselves as evidenced by the fact people have been upset about them for more than 5 years now.