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Complicated Shopping experience, confused clients

Hi folks, there is a lot about zen to like, but am I the only who's clients are thoroughly confused when trying to buy prints or download digital files?

I know to techie web nerds such as myself this stuff appears to be easy to use. But I promise you, I have to send a very detailed instruction sheet to literally ALL of my clients so they can figure out how to buy prints and download digital copies. Even some younger people who should be savvy enough to figure it out.

I have been thinking about making tutorial videos for my clients on how to order. That is a pretty big problem, I shouldn't have to think about making tutorial videos for my clients.

For starters the buy buttons are too small or blend into the design too much. I think this is why even younger people miss it, it's just not that obvious where or how to buy, it's easy to pass over these functions if your not looking hard for them. The forward and backward arrows aren't the most clear control set either. I feel like navigation and buying don't have nearly the dummy proof emphasis required. As a tech savvy dude I know where to look for these things, but all of my clients aunts, uncles, parents, and grandparents struggle with placing an order.

I'm convinced i've lost sales due to how complicated the shopping experience is. PLEASE do something to fix this. I want photo books as much as the next guy, but if my clients can't order a single 4x6 how the heck are they ever going to make it through a photobook?

anything in the pipeline?

Thanks for listening.


  • tomtom Posts: 52Member

    I'm convinced i've lost sales due to how complicated the shopping experience is. PLEASE do something to fix this. I want photo books as much as the next guy, but if my clients can't order a single 4x6 how the heck are they ever going to make it through a photobook?

    Ditto. I think the web interface is in need of an overhaul to make it more intuitive for our less saavy clients. Might as well throw in some less tacky templates too :)

  • I will double ditto that. The perfect solution would be to allow a "Products before Images" interface. As in, Th client logs into the gallery, and they are presented with a nice slideshow of featured products, and links to product categories: Gift Prints | Framed Wall Portraits | Canvas Wraps | Wall Art (acrylics, metals, murals) | Specialty | Digital Products | View All Images

    The client gets to see some of the options and products in the slideshow, potentially being inspired to buy something that they would not normally go searching for. The client selects the category for what they want to purchase, selects the specific product, THEN applies an image from their galleries to the selected product.

    Product driven client galleries will ABSOLUTELY result in higher sales, and fewer confused clients.

  • vitasvitas Posts: 1,364Member
    From the beginning, our goal has always been combining the best possible viewing experience with an easy shopping and checkout experience. As a part of our plan to offer more gallery layouts and options, we are planning to add a shopping-oriented layout that will be optimized for shopping experience.

    We analyze the behavior of clients during shopping and checkout experience and try to redesign all places where they can stumble.

    The idea of showing products instead of client images first is something new to us, but we can definitely consider it if there's interest.

    For now, a few suggestions:
    1. Turn off all unnecessary page elements, such as dates, keywords, buttons, etc. (This is done in the Options under Customize Visitor View)
    2. Create a custom theme and give a bright and prominent color to the Buy button (this is available in Theme Designer)
    3. Use larger font sizes in your theme
    4. Limit your catalog of products offered for sale, so it is easier for clients to navigate it.
    5. You can consider providing some initial help to your client in gallery caption.

    This preset, for example, addresses some of the points above:
  • Pete FerlingPete Ferling Posts: 26Member
    edited September 2013
    I have the same issue, and have resorted to more traditional means and DropBox, (most of my work is with corporate folks and request that I use DropBox). Some folks don't even want to bother with all that "technical stuff". Like some of my older family members, I've either sat with, or walked clients through the process over the phone. It's just part of providing good service. In short, some things never change.
    Post edited by Pete Ferling on
    Commercial and Product Photography
  • I recently have had the same issue. Who knows how many orders I have lost before this one. Am now looking to see how to modify my order pages to make it more transparent, and if that does not work, change sites.
  • Kevin KrowsKevin Krows United StatesPosts: 1,463Member
    Vitas -

    While your suggestions are good ones, the heart of the matter is that it takes clients more time to place orders than many are willing to invest. TIME is the real issue! Those looking at the interface from the inside out have no problem as we work with our site every day. Only those looking at the interface from the outside in (our clients) matter.

    How many clicks does it take just to order one picture? Is the return to gallery to order more prints of other images intuitive? My clients answer that question all the time. Too many clicks and NO.

    I came from Exposure Manager about a year ago. About the only thing they actually did better than everyone else is driving sales by a very simple, easy to use, interface that allowed the client to add prints to a shopping cart on the fly. For those interested in the order interface, check out a friends site

    Note that you can add a 5x7 of a picture with one cropping or adjustments screens to worry about (that's the photographers job..not the client)...don't need to return to the gallery to order other prints as you always stay in that gallery... Give it a try and see just how easy and fast it is to add items to your shopping cart on the fly.

    Zen has to make it easier on the client to do business with the photographer. My business has suffered greatly because of this.
  • Pete FerlingPete Ferling Posts: 26Member
    edited September 2013
    Post edited by Pete Ferling on
    Commercial and Product Photography
  • Pete FerlingPete Ferling Posts: 26Member
    I've deleted my original comment. As I deal with clients directly, I've decided that Zenfolio does not provide the tools for how I work. I know this doesn't apply to everyone. However, the process of online print ordering seems redundant to me, when I can proof/select with the client using Lightroom, after the shoot. Even if after the fact, such as a wedding or event, why bother uploading proofs and sync? Just bring the laptop, place an order and collect a deposit. I do the work, not the client.

    I do like the idea of using the online folio, in conjunction with the mobile app for presentation to win new clients when I'm out, that seems to work. Raised a few eyebrows that way.


    Commercial and Product Photography
  • Vitas -

    I came from Exposure Manager about a year ago. About the only thing they actually did better than everyone else is driving sales by a very simple, easy to use, interface that allowed the client to add prints to a shopping cart on the fly. For those interested in the order interface, check out a friends site

    Zen has to make it easier on the client to do business with the photographer. My business has suffered greatly because of this.

    Note that exposure manager is the site used by one of the other primary photographers of this type in the area, and that is exactly the site referenced to me by my customers who gave up trying to order from me. They talked about how easy it was to order from him.

    I am now looking to see what site to move to. Even with the changes offered here. which I appreciate, it seems to be too many clicks still and I have not yet been able to create a page easily that does what I really want - just click to order prints, and let me do the rest.
  • Kevin KrowsKevin Krows United StatesPosts: 1,463Member
    Sure hope the Zen engineers are looking at this.
  • Atlantic PictureAtlantic Picture Maryland, USAPosts: 43Member
    edited September 2013
    I have certain expectations towards ZF since I pay for a service, however in this case while there are certain valid points about the system being a bit too complex for some people.. (i.e. the mounting/framing is pretty hidden) I have to say this...

    This is one of my galleries showing Landscapes
    Someone recently asked me if I have canvases and why don't I show it on the site.... ??
    Others told me that they couldn't go trough the payment bc they thought they can only pay with paypal...
    These are only the latest ones...

    I know we need to help our customers as much as we can but is there a limit? Is there any responsibility what the customer should pick up...?
    I used to run a hotel and I could tell you stories... People expecting to know things without learning/reading (or listening to you), things to work without lifting a finger... etc.

    If I pay for the site and the site doesn't behave as it was advertised that's the site's fault but when you have links - the very first ones right next to the image - about canvases, prints etc... than you might be better off without a customer who cannot read and or will give you a load of troubles later on anyway...
    Post edited by Atlantic Picture on
  • Pete FerlingPete Ferling Posts: 26Member
    edited September 2013
    "If I pay for the site and the site doesn't behave as it was advertised that's the site's fault..."

    Unfortunately, as perceived by the client, it's your fault. Nor should you expect the client to do the work. There are clients whom either can't grasp or are just too busy to deal with technology, and that's why they hire the likes of us to get things done. No different than hiring an auto mechanic, plumber, or re-modeller. We are all in a service oriented business. None of the folks I know whom do other things rely on a webpage or non-human tools to bring them business. (Yes, you need a web presence when someone looks you up, but it can't function alone).

    When a client asks "Can you deliver a CD, or give me a print, or help me select a frame?" etc, etc. The answer is "Yes", and not "I have a system for you to follow." Therefore, Zenfolio is just another delivery tool in your bag of tricks. It's not THE tool. It's just one more way to say "yes".

    That said. For what it's designed to do, is it meeting that need? Perhaps we are asking the wrong question? Maybe we need to see what tools and methods the top photographers in our industry are using? You would be surprised. Some don't have carts. Just a simple price list and a phone number to call, (customer service).

    I'm not discounting Zenfolio. They provide an excellent gallery (you need that) and a great combination with their Android App. I will order the prints myself (I understand how the carts work). However, most of my work is product photography for corporate clients and they love DropBox ("Yes, we can do that."). For non-tech or non-commercial clients. I will either do selects and orders right after the shoot, right in LR. Otherwise, I'll use the Zen App, but I will be there personally to guide them. No more confusion with the cart. I went out and purchased two tablets (one as a backup) for this. Kudo's to Zen for figuring out how to integrate the human aspect of it.

    The bottom line, I'm not happy with the cart situation, either. However, the solution rests in what I do about it, and not anyone else.
    Commercial and Product Photography
  • Atlantic PictureAtlantic Picture Maryland, USAPosts: 43Member
    Pete, I have no intention to spend time here discussing nothing.. but I must say I doubt you got the whole picture of what I said... You picked a half sentence and started to run with it... somewhere towards the wrong tree I think.. :)

  • laurent andrelaurent andre Posts: 1Member
    I totally agree ! it's way too complicated for clients to order prints.

    I've been told this by a recent bride. She works in IT !! She told me that her parents won't be able to place an order on this website. I'm planning to leave Zen and go for another service.

    I like zen for proofing, making named selection, sending them to the photographer but ....
  • I have had the same experience. Frustrated (smart) clients who can't figure it out. Please fix it. Thank you!
  • Nicky JamesonNicky Jameson TorontoPosts: 107Member
    I like Zenfolio - a lot. For the big picture resolution mainly. But for an e-commerce site (the option I have) it's complicated even for me and I am technically savvy. I cannot imagine how ordinary clients navigate it.So I decided not to set up mine. For what I do I've started using FAA. I love how they beautifully present canvases,prints, acrylics AND the frames at the same time. Galleries, everything is geared to view and drive sales and it's so simple to navigate for artists and buyers. This is what Zen needs to aim towards, particularly the presentation... perhaps not exactly but in that general direction.

  • photoguy397photoguy397 Posts: 23Member
    Well ExposureManager and FAA do look like quicker checkouts but certainly much simpler sites. Simple is good but it's not quite as nice a gallery. Zen can still improve on the visual with a scrolling collage wall, but they MUST definitely work to simplify the checkout process.

    MPIX Pro has nice photos and video for most of their products on their website, but on Zen it's just a hidden image that you see AFTER you click on a product. And as many have mentioned, options are often listed as a new product rather than just an option. This is even a bigger problem in the self-fulfilled section. In general , there's too many subcategories. It's kind of like calling a big company that puts you immediately through this whole automated calling tree before you get to talk to a person. You feel like hanging up pretty quickly. The product catalog needs to be more visual. Pulling unbranded MPix product videos would be great too.

    People are window-shoppers. If they see a product they like, they might look into the details. But the technical details aren't going to get them to look at the pictures unless they already know exactly what they're looking for.
  • GDMKGDMK Posts: 56Member
    I really like a lot of things about Zenfolio, but I have to say the cart and checkout feature really drive me insane. I would like to see the next updates focus on the cart process over anything else. Its no good having beautiful gallery layouts, seamless blogging and some of the other great features if the customers give up part way through the checkout process due to confusion or 'process fatigue'.

    As mentioned above, the products need to be presented in a much slicker and visual format.

    I would love to see a 'one click to buy' process for those customers who havent got the attention span, confidence, time or patience to click through half a dozen screens of configuration.

    If this was backed up with a detailed cart option for the more discerning customer, who has the time and desire to fine tune the product with many different options, then we would be cooking on gas.

    If this isnt possible then I would simply love Zenfolio to enable the insertion of code into galleries and captions so we could implement our own buttons and carts.

  • Kevin KrowsKevin Krows United StatesPosts: 1,463Member
    Bump this topic up the list. Let's hear what others think?
  • Nicky JamesonNicky Jameson TorontoPosts: 107Member
    "Well ExposureManager and FAA do look like quicker checkouts but certainly much simpler sites. Simple is good but it's not quite as nice a gallery."
    I can't speak to Exposure Manager as I haven't used it. But for the client when it comes to buying simple is important and I will take that over a fancy gallery any day. My very nice gallery on my artists website lets clients pick the type of print, framed, canvas, acrylic, whatever they desire and everything they need to go with it.And yes it's a much quicker checkout... It's smooth, it's easy and it's a few clicks. They can see everything. No jumping through hoops, no hunting under different and obscure menus, no dividing orders into ones and twos as you have to do on Zen. There's no point having a fancy gallery if people are going to get frustrated trying to buy from it... and in fact ending up not buying from it at all. Most clients won't come back... and they won't tell you either. They give up for a lot less. And for the record people have been asking for Zen to improve the shopping experience for a long time... I looked at it again shortly after signing up with FAA and it's still exactly where it was, unintuitive. I like Zenfolio and was very excited when I found it, but I am finding fewer reasons to remain on it these days.
  • Kevin KrowsKevin Krows United StatesPosts: 1,463Member
    No doubt that Zen is the best gallery display option on the planet. However, that doesn't mean that it pays the bills and drives revenue. At the end of the day, driving revenue wins the race.

    Zen is soooooooo close to perfect. If they would only make a few changes to simplify our clients shopping experience both of our revenue lines would SOAR!!! It benefits everyone Clients>Photographer>Zen.

    Any time everyone wins it becomes PRIORITY #1!!
  • Kevin KrowsKevin Krows United StatesPosts: 1,463Member
    OK...Nicky. Maybe I stretched the gallery display part a bit much. Guess my mind was thinking, " what other service could you get for $120 per year, unlimited storage space, and had as many design and layout options.

    What other service do you think does a better job?
  • Nicky JamesonNicky Jameson TorontoPosts: 107Member
    For what it offers Zenfolio is excellent value. I like how it displays my full-res photographs. On that we are agreed. I had a little trouble with the "best gallery on the planet" statement but you've mentioned the stretch so we'll say no more about that. Personally I think Petapixel does a better job... but then it has a much higher price so that is moot.

    If Zen could get the galleries to be consistent and more modern-looking and the site could be more Google-friendly for images - and of course had a simple streamlined and simple shopping cart and more international photo labs they would be well on the way to being among the best if not one of the best value sites out there. I think Zenfolio like most other photo sites out there does some things very well and others not so well. But I get so many more visitors to my FAA site than I do to my Zen site that I am considering doing away with my galleries here altogether and just having a slide show of selected images.
  • I agree! My clients are confused as well! Very embarrassing!
  • We are currently working to streamline the shopping experience for customers. Some of the areas we are looking to implement improvements include:

    • New, selling-focused layouts
    • New layout for the Featured products
    • Several improvements to simplify cart / checkout experience.
  • stevejstevej Posts: 73Member
    ZenBrian said:

    • New, selling-focused layouts

    Yup that might be a good idea for an online shop :)

    Seriously though, while Zenfolio does a lot of things really well the shop side of things is awful and needs to rebuilt from the ground up. Agree with those that say product then image rather than the other way around. Required instructions for the client should be minimal and those that are required should appear on hover over a question mark.

    Simple simple simple and designed by usability experts with ongoing testing using non IT, non specialist users as guinea pigs - not by programmers. The programmer's job should be to implement what comes down from the initial process.

    I suspect that the current cart was designed by programmers. (I write as an ex-programmer)
    My Zenfolio/Wordpress website:
  • Kevin KrowsKevin Krows United StatesPosts: 1,463Member
    edited December 2013
    You development team needs to have a focus group of your clients making suggestions and testing beta sites! If you don't get the direct input from a solid core of photographers you could wind up with something that is no better than you have or maybe worse.

    I was the VP of an IT and Applications Development company for 9 years. Rule #1 - Programmers are Programmers .... not Business Process Experts. Frankly, there are some baby steps that you could take that would require less time, less cost, and solve 80% of the problems our customers are having. You don't need to start from the ground up if the fundamentals are already there.

    My ideas:

    1. Create an on/off option for the Preview & Configure screen.
    2. Eliminate crop lines around thumbnails in the shopping cart if Preview and Configure is set to "Off".
    3. When you add a print to purchase from the featured products list, it takes you to another page asking AGAIN for the client to select the product. They select the product (AGAIN) Add to Cart which then takes them to yet another screen called Confirmation. The Confirmation page lists the following options:

    Preview and Configure Print
    Buy More Products with Selected Items
    Checkout Now

    Where the heck is RETURN TO GALLERY as an option???? You have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out!!!!

    That would take care of 80% of the complaints my clients have. How hard would those three things be for your development team to accomplish???
  • Nicky JamesonNicky Jameson TorontoPosts: 107Member
    I really hope you can rebuild the whole shopping cart experience. It needs to be intuitive as well as functional, clients should not have to think or have to remember where they were in the process (like we have to do even with the main Zen site), they should be able to get what they want and speed through checkout in minutes or they will give up and never come back. The site needs to assume that clients do not already know the site/interface. Simplify everything. I can't emphasize this enough. And all options should be a click away and if possible on the same page so that clients don't have to click away - and leave. I think that as suggested it would be a VERY good idea to get extensive input from your customers and clients otherwise I fear we will get something that's really no better than what exists (again, as suggested above). And I mention this as I think of some major photo-sharing sites each each of which have recently made significant changes to their interface with no input from their users whatsoever, with predictable confusion, dismay and defection. Developers are not users.
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