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May 2009

In our previous newsletter we mentioned that we were going to be working on a lot of new items in the near future, and that on the next newsletter (this current one) we would be giving you an update on how that's going. So, as promised, here is the update!

The changes and additions that we will be discussing this month include: using your own domain name for your storefront URL, selecting a featured image for each of your events, a new storefront event listing option, quantity values displayed on the storefront “shopping cart” and “favorites” links, a new summary area showing the number of emails that have been sent out for each of your events, a definable default number of thumbnail images to view per page on your storefront, embeddable blog code (for you and your clients), and demo video tutorials.

Use Your Own Domain Name

In March we announced the ability for you to use your own custom CSS files to modify your storefront (see sidebar for examples). To go along with that open-ended level of customization, we are now announcing the ability for you to use your own domain name for your storefront address as well! Using these two items in combination, your storefront cannot only be customized to look like an extension to your business website, but it can now also appear to be located at the same URL as well!

So how does this work? Well, it all works through a little setting that your domain registrar can help you with, called a CNAME. The CNAME setting basically maps one website address to another (it acts as an alias). So, if you own the domain http://www.happyphotos.com, and you would like that to be your storefront address, you simply create a CNAME entry that says “map http://www.happyphotos.com to http://happyphotos.instaproofs.com”. By doing this, your clients could then type in http://www.happyphotos.com and be taken straight into your Instaproofs storefront.

Alias Storefront

A lot of you already have a domain name that is used for your business website, and you probably don't want your storefront to take over your primary web address. So what can you do? You can create a CNAME entry that maps a subdomain of your website to your storefront. This is done in the same way that creating the CNAME entry for the full address is done, but instead says something like “map http://proofs.happyphotos.com to http://happyphotos.instaproofs.com”. You can then direct your clients to http://proofs.happyphotos.com, and your storefront will come up at that address.

Once you have your CNAME record setup with your domain registrar, wait 24 hours, then update the “Storefront Alias” field (found in the “company info” page) to have the same URL that you setup with your registrar.

Alias Setting

Featured Images for Events

Through a new option in the “preferences” page (within the “Setup” tab), you can enable the ability to select a featured image for each of your events. When the featured image option is enabled, the following items become available (these are explained in more detail below the list):

  1. You can select a featured image for each of your events.
  2. You can dynamically include a thumbnail version of the featured image for your events in your customized bulk emails.
  3. The event login screen (where people give their email address and/or password) displays the featured image.
  4. You can enable your storefront homepage to display thumbnail versions of your featured images next to the event listings.

1: To select a featured image for an event, click the “Manage Photos” link found next to the event of your choice in the “Events” tab, then click the “Manage Photos” link next to the category that contains the image. If you know which image you want to make the featured image for the event, click the “edit” link next to the image's name, and then put a check in the box labeled “Featured Image” and hit the “Update” button to save your changes.

If you don't already know which image you want to select as your featured image for the event, click the “Print View” link on the top of the image listing page, browse the thumbnails in the category, and click the “Featured Image” radio button underneath the image of your choice. Once you have selected the featured image, click the “Update” button at the bottom of the page to save your selection.

Select Featured Image

2: To dynamically include thumbnail versions of your featured images on your bulk/reminder emails, go into the email editing page and wherever you would like the featured image to be displayed, click on the “[[FEATURED_IMAGE]]” keyword to have it placed in that location. Then, when the email is sent out, the appropriate featured image will be displayed in the place of the [[FEATURED_IMAGE]] keyword.

3: The event login screen for your events now checks for, and displays, featured images. If you have the featured images option enabled, and a featured image has been selected for the event, the image is then displayed next to the email/password collection form. If no featured image is found for the event, no image is displayed.

Featured Image

4: In addition to the option enabling featured images, an option to display the featured images on your storefront homepage has also been added to the preferences page. Choosing to display featured images on your homepage causes a thumbnail version of your selected image to be displayed on the event list along with the other event information. If this option is enabled and no featured image has been selected for an event, the very first image within the event is displayed in its place. The event notes that are normally placed at the top of the event thumbnail pages is also displayed next to the thumbnail image in the event list.

Selected Featured Image

New Storefront Event Listing Option

Along with the previous two event listing options that were available for your storefront homepage, a third option has now been created. Unlike the previous two options, this third method displays your events using a single droplist instead of displaying your events as individual links. Using the droplist display option may be beneficial to those of you that have many events on your storefront, and want an easier way for your clients to find their event. If you choose to use this new option, it is highly recommended that you also enable the featured image settings as well.

To select the new event listing option, go into the “preferences” page within the “Setup” tab, and change the selected item in the “Event Listing Method” droplist.

Easily Seen Storefront Quantity Values

There have been a few instances in the past where photographers have reported that their clients would like more visibility to the number of items they have in their cart. In order to accommodate those requests, we have now added the shopping cart quantity next to the “Shopping Cart” link at the top of the page on your storefronts. In addition to adding the shopping cart quantity, we have added a quantity value next to the “Favorites” link as well.

Summary of Sent Emails

If you have ever wondered how many emails were being sent out for your events, this is your lucky day! We have created a small chart on the “email” page for each of your events that shows how many emails have been sent out for that particular event. The chart breaks the email counts down into the different types of emails that can be sent from our system, and allows you to easily see how effective your emails are (for example, if you sent out 500 invitation emails two weeks ago, and you have only had one order placed on the event, you may want to consider reformatting your invitation emails). Since the email logging was just enabled last week, we only have values available since that time. In the future, we plan to expand on this chart and allow you to drill into each area to view when the emails were sent, and what the message bodies were.

Email Summary

Default Thumbnail Count

Have you ever wished that your storefront displayed something other than 20 thumbnail images per page by default? Using this new setting, you are now able to customize the default thumbnail count to something else. The new setting is labeled “Default Thumbnail Images per Page” and is found in the “preferences” page within the “Setup” tab.

As a cautionary note, setting the value to 100 may sound tempting, but with a high number of images being displayed on each page, it is very easy for people to get overwhelmed and not look at the images individually. Displaying a lower number of images per page will result in your customers spending more time on your storefront, paying more attention to each of the images, and potentially purchasing a larger number of prints.

Embeddable Blog Code - For You

Do you blog? Chances are, you do. And if you do, your blog is most likely becoming your primary means of communication to your clients and your potential clients. Because of this quickly-growing trend of business blogging, we have created some code for you to add to your blog that will display an always-current list of your events. The code is customizable so that the list will match your blog's current look and feel, and you can change the background color, link colors, font sizes, etc. To get the code for your blog, click into the event details screen for any of your events, scroll to the bottom of the page, and copy the code found in the “Embeddable Event List” textbox. Paste the code into your blog as a 3rd party HTML widget, and you should be good to go.

While this code was built with blogs in mind, the functionality is not strictly limited to blogs. Photographers have already begun putting the code on their own (non-blog) websites in order to have a list of their events available from there as well. Feel free to use the code wherever it may be most beneficial to you.

Embeddable Blog Code - For Your Clients

Are your clients proud and excited about their new photographs? Of course they are! And with that excitement, they generally want to share their images with anyone and everyone that is willing to look at them. In order to help your clients spread the word about their images, we have added a “Blogger” option to the social bookmarks toolbar. The Blogger option is quite a bit different than the other bookmarking options; instead of displaying just a simple link back to their event, the Blogger option creates an array of images that will be displayed on their blog. When a person clicks on any of the images displaying on the blog, they will be taken into the storefront to view the other images in that event.

Blogger Options

Demo Video Tutorials

You have probably noticed the new demo video tutorials that have been put up in the “Setup” tab, but if you haven't noticed them in the past, go take a look. Right now there are just six short demos, but more are in the works that will cover items such as how to setup multiple shipping options, and how to create multi-pose products.

If you have something that you're stuck on, and you would like to see a demo video created for it, please let us know.

Conclusion

And that wraps us up for the month! We still have a fairly long list of requests that we are going through, so you should see even more options and enhancements available shortly.

Thank you for your support and your suggestions, and we'll see you here again in about a month!


If you would like to unsubscribe to these newsletters you can do so from within the Setup tab in the “preferences” page.

Customized Storefront Examples

Some of you have asked for examples that show what other photographers have done to customize their storefronts with CSS. Below are a couple of excellent examples. Both of these storefronts display custom background images, custom background colors, custom font sizes / colors, custom borders, and custom header and footer layouts.

Studio Mathewes Photography
click to view storefront

Nancy Anderson Photography
click to view storefront