I have recently updated my website design using ProPhoto 7, this is my story.
Reviews really matter and I think I am in a good place to give you a very honest and balanced review of ProPhoto 7
Do I recommend ProPhoto 7? YES, here’s why…
My first website was made by me using Yahoo Geocities, remember that?!
Next I used Dreamweaver, but only on a basic level as I was never a coder type person.
Next, when I had gone beyond my understanding of Dreamweaver for what I wanted to do, I had a friend make my website using my direction. He did a pretty good job, but there was always something not quite right that needed changing, and he was always hard to get hold of to make the changes. I didn’t blame him, he did a great job, but I needed more flexibility and greater control over the design.
I’ve been with ProPhoto since version 5. I remember many a time getting really frustrated trying to find where settings were hidden. You are basically trying to be in the mindset of the people who have designed where things are, and that can be tough as we all have a different idea of where you should logically find settings.
Luckily some of my photographer friends were also using ProPhoto 5. I mean that was how I started using it in the first place. After a LOT of work, my website was finally finished and I understood the ProPhoto 5 tools a lot better by this time. For a couple years or so the website worked great. I had total control and I could to a certain degree decide how I wanted things laid out. I did always feel a little constricted though, as it seemed really difficult to place things where you wanted them and for them to stay there! After a few years of using ProPhoto 5 for my site, people were using mobile phones a lot more to look at websites. The news was that Google would look at your site with a frown if it wasn’t good on mobiles. Mine wasn’t!
It was time to update my website again. Now you have to understand, after already making my site a few times I DID NOT want to go through that hellish experience again. It’s a MASSIVE job!
Eventually I got to a point where I had some time to get stuck in with ProPhoto 6 (I’ll come to ProPhoto 7 in a bit). I knew the website would be a big job so I would need to dedicate a lot of time to it. I did start using ProPhoto 6, but it was an arduously slow process and required me to continually refresh my page to see if the changes made were what I had expected. Most times they weren’t!! Again I was tearing my hair out and I was taking up so much time for so little gain if any. Eventually and after a lot of patient persistence I had to give up. It was just too hard and took too long. I was very frustrated to say the least, so much time wasted!
A couple years I think had passed since giving up on ProPhoto 6 and then I saw ProPhoto 7 had come out. I think it had been out a little while by the time I had thought I’d give it a go, but I was very hesitant after PP6. ProPhoto 7 promised the whole website design process to be really easy. The promo video certainly made it look easy; I was sold!
Even though I had bought the software, I still hadn’t set aside time to actually use it. Then I saw that WordPress was launching Gutenberg, which would totally change how you produce webpages in WordPress. I was worried WordPress would clash with ProPhoto 7 and also it appeared that WP was now offering the features ProPhoto 7 was anyway. Had I just wasted money on ProPhoto 7?!
Eventually I had some time to get stuck into ProPhoto 7 and I started my new site. I then had a loss in the family, so again for a time the website was put on the back-burner which kind of messed up the learning process.
Ok so April 2019 and FINALLY I am properly stuck into the new site. Much like ProPhoto 5 and 6 I was pretty lost at first. Also, I wasn’t making a site from scratch, I was taking my ProPhoto 5 site and moving all the content into a new site. So like moving house really. I think the fact that I wasn’t starting fresh did make things a LOT more complicated. It was like a big tangled mess that needed to be put in better order. I am still working on that now.
I came across a LOT of problems. They were for all different reasons. Most were my lack of understanding, some were from minor glitches in the ProPhoto 7 interface/design. probably the biggest problem was a plugin called Media Library Assistant that I had installed causing my ProPhoto 7 to MASSIVELY lag! Over a long period of time I spent a lot of time metaphorically banging my head against the wall and sent the ProPhoto guys a lot of emails asking for help. I expect they got a bit tired of my emails after a while. Some were legitimate small issues with the interface, but most were to help me with my understanding of it.
They were REALLY HELPFUL though and got me through just about every problem I was having. I always tried to have a good go at figuring out the problems myself first, as they already get a lot of emails from other customers.
I have thought about writing this review before. What I would say, how I would say it, the annoying problems I have had. I have gone from initially doubting my decision to purchase ProPhoto 7 to now really liking it. But it has NOT been an easy journey, and remember, much of that is because I was not starting from scratch. If you move house, things get broken, furniture doesn’t fit, items get lost, and you have to reorganise everything. That was me! If you live with your parents, own very little, then move into your own place, it’s much simpler, as you start from scratch.
Ok enough background, what about the tools?!
ProPhoto 7 is very powerful, you can make very detailed changes quickly and easily. You can both make global changes, and changes to very focused areas. There are a wealth of tools to use and the interface is pretty intuitive. Yes you do still have to learn where things are and why things do what they do, but when the lightbulb goes on, everything starts falling into place. For me though that took quite a LONG time because I am working with a big site and have a lot of content to move from the old site to the new.
It’s amazing to be able to easily assign font styles, change border thicknesses, colours, size of images according to what platform they are viewed on and reuse design elements rather than having to make new ones every time.
Like me, you will probably make a lot of mistakes that later on down the road causes more work. If you are able to get the groundwork right though, you can be quite efficient and save yourself a lot of time on the website construction process.
With my site, I wanted to have a lot of control over where everything was placed. Previous versions of ProPhoto were more limited, but with ProPhoto 7 I have a lot more control.
The pages of your site are made up of ‘Blocks.’ The great thing is, once you have made a block, you can use it again. This is where it is really important to get the Block perfect, because if like me you duplicate it many times to be used again in your site, if you spot a mistake later down the line, you’ll have to edit every one of those blocks! If you had got it right in the first place you would have saved a lot of time!
The key thing to do with the Blocks is to put as much into a block as you can so that you have as few blocks to manage as possible. Unfortunately, currently the blocks are just kept as a single list and this can get hard to manage when you have a lot. They are alphabetised, but you cannot put them into folders or use any search function. So you need to name them very logically so as to find them easily. However, I’ve noticed the ProPhoto guys have recently made a change that sections off Blocks in the layout you are working on at the time, from all the other blocks being used across the site. That simplifies things a bit.
As well as blocks, you have galleries which you can customise. You can create a few different gallery styles and use them across your site. Say for example Gallery style 1, 2 etc. If you have Gallery style 1 on maybe 5 pages, any edits to the gallery style will change them all, while galleries of style 2 will remain unchanged until you edit Gallery style 2.
There are numerous ways of tweaking and shaping your website design. You can add space and finesse areas in a multitude of ways to get the visual appearance you want. With SO MANY options available it can get a bit overwhelming and confusing at times, but once you understand the tools, they give you a lot of options and flexibility. You can even set up galleries to alter the number of thumbnails shown when a certain size of screen size is reached. It is all very customisable, allowing you to get things just perfect. This is what sets ProPhoto 7 apart from many other options out there.
There are actually more options than I will probably ever use in ProPhoto 7, but I am grateful for the choice and I do make use of a lot of the ProPhoto 7 features.
Now I have a website that can be fined tuned to a high degree.
In summary, ProPhoto 7 is great if you are starting from scratch, possibly awkward at first if you are transferring an old site to a new one. Either way, there are tremendous possibilities if you are willing to put in the hours. The support from ProPhoto has been excellent. Polite, usually within 24 hours, and very comprehensive.
I think even with the big changes that WordPress made, on balance, I did the right thing getting ProPhoto 7. It gives me sophisticated tools I need, allows me to create a professional looking website, helps me manage everything well, and is a good all round solution for photographers like me. There are some other well known web design builders out there that are not based on WordPress, but I’m not sure they would give you the same flexibility as well as value as ProPhoto 7.
TRY IT YOURSELF WITH A DISCOUNT
After writing this article, ProPhoto offered me the opportunity to share a discount code with others thinking of also using ProPhoto 7. If you would like to try it with a discount, click on this link and use code: RALE3367