Top 4 website builders for a photography business
Create an online destination where you can showcase your work, find clients, and sell prints in an instant using one of the 4 best photography website builders
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As a professional photographer, you need to give your photographs the website they deserve – one that shows your work in its best light, and exemplifies your keen eye for form, framing, and composition.
Thanks to drag-and-drop website builders, that’s never been easier.
But which website builder is the right one for you?
While there are some photography specific website builders, many of the best website builders for small businesses also offer templates and features that are tailored to the needs of photographers.
To save you the trouble, we’ve tried, tested, and ranked four of the best website builders for photography businesses, based on photography-specific tools and templates, design flexibility, sales and marketing features, value for money, and ease of use.
With aesthetic sensibility at its heart, not to mention the best looking templates around, the Squarespace photography website builder tops our ranking. It's followed closely by SmugMug in second, and Format in a respectable third.
Read on for the full picture.
Just starting out in the photography game? Check out our guide on how to start a photography business here.
Squarespace has quite a reputation for its stunning templates, and rightly so. Every single one of its photography-focused designs is sleek, stylish, and optimised to show your work in its best light.
What’s more, it offers multiple presentation formats, and every template is mobile responsive, meaning your photography website will automatically be reconfigured for mobile users. Time for a refresh? Squarespace also allows you to change your template at any time.
Once you’ve uploaded a photograph, you can use Squarespace’s extensive on-site editing tools to tweak, crop, and filter your image until it’s perfectly formatted. Then you can adjust the display style and settings to decide how prominent each image is on the page. As you can see, there are near infinite design possibilities, which is why we ranked Squarespace as our number one website for design flexibility.
Squarespace integrates with countless social media platforms as well, making it easier to grow your audience and reach new clients. And if you’re planning to sell prints of your work through your website, Squarespace’s ecommerce offering makes it easy to set up product listings and take payments online.
We were also impressed by the platform’s SEO tools, which are easy to find in the editing sidebar. Good SEO is essential for a successful photography website, ensuring it ranks highly for key search terms relating to your imagery.
Where Squarespace falls down slightly is on ease of use, which is somewhat sacrificed in favour of absolute design control. This complexity results in a less intuitive editing experience than, for example, with a builder like Weebly.
However, that’s a minor issue when you consider how great your photography website will look.
Unlike Squarespace, SmugMug is a website builder that’s been designed specifically for photography businesses.
Every aspect of the platform has been built with the needs of photographers in mind. This means templates that are optimised to make your work look superb – and that look great on any device – and excellent features to help you get noticed, find work, and sell. All templates can be customised without using code, but if you are a dab hand with HTML, you can access the code to get exactly the results you’re looking for.
SmugMug also offers a decent suite of ecommerce tools, including a fully integrated shopping cart, customised pricing, and the option to sell your work printed on countless products. For all this, the platform takes 15% of the profits, which is pretty reasonable in the grand scheme of things.
There are a number of plans available, catering to different needs. The Pro Plan is the only one to offer promotional coupons, the ability to sell custom single and multi-image packages, and event marketing tools.
But what really sets SmugMug apart from the other photography website builders in this ranking is its security features.
On all plans, you can limit the size of displayed images, opt out of search engines, and have your images backed up with Amazon Web Services. You can also make any individual folder, gallery, or page completely private, keep them password protected, and limit access to specific people/clients. On the Pro plan, you can even protect your images by adding a custom watermark.
As SmugMug is a photography website builder first and foremost, you’re not going to find the depth of features that you’ll find with some of the other platforms. But, if you want a platform that’s absolutely focused on your needs as a professional photographer, SmugMug is the one for you.
Do you want to set up a photography website with minimum fuss and hassle? If so, Format could be the photography website builder for you.
Format is the quick and easy way to get your photography portfolio live. Simply choose one of its themed templates (wedding, video, design, art, fashion), adjust the layout to your preference, and you're away. If you fancy trying a new look, you can change your theme at any time, and all templates are optimised to look great on any device.
But this simplicity doesn’t mean it skimps on key features. You can create customised, password-protected proofing galleries to share with clients for approval, and enable or restrict access to the size of images they can download. For added security, you can also use Format’s in-built watermark tool to protect your images from unauthorised distribution.
You can sell your work through Format too, and keep 100% of your revenue. In fact, depending on the plan you choose, you’re allowed to sell a set number of products before you’re charged a penny: 3 products on Pro, 60 products on Pro Plus, and 1,000 on Unlimited (not absolutely unlimited then…).
It also integrates with essential photography software like Lightroom and Capture One Integration, allowing you to share your work directly from its editing source – instead of having to compress and reformat it to within an inch of its life before it’s seen by a client.
Format’s most advanced plan, Unlimited, is cheaper than the top tier plans offered by any of the other photography website builders we’ve reviewed, and still offers a pretty comprehensive range of tools and services.
Overall, then, a solid, affordable, no-fuss platform you can use to create a portfolio that would make any photographer proud.
We’d say Weebly has a solid, if basic offering for photographers. It’s pretty easy to get set up with one of its many decent photography templates, which you’re free to change at any time. And, once uploaded, your photos can be resized, cropped, rotated, and filtered to ensure they look perfect.
It doesn’t offer as many photography-specific features as some of the other website builders we’ve featured, but it does have a nice range of tools and services you can use to fully optimise your website or portfolio. And while its features aren’t quite up to the standard of a provider like Squarespace, the app store has some fantastic ecommerce extensions and other apps that would be useful for photographers.
The integrated SEO and marketing tools provided by Weebly are pretty decent. You can find the dedicated marketing area in the dashboard, from which you can create custom emails, onsite pop-ups, and more.
However, if you are planning on selling your prints through your site, be aware that the number of products you can sell is limited unless you choose the Business Pro plan.
That’s about all there is to say about Weebly – it’s relatively easy to use, it’s relatively affordable, and it’s pretty simplistic.
How did we choose the best photography website builders
When focusing in on the best website builders for photography businesses, we made sure to train our lens on the aspects we know are most important to professional photographers.
Those aspects are: photography-specific tools and templates, design flexibility, sales and marketing features, value for money, and ease of use.
Then, through a combination of in-depth research, user testing, and direct comparison, we assessed each builder on those core considerations and ranked them accordingly.
Having a great-looking website is, of course, important for any business. But for photographers, whose income depends on having a keen eye for what makes a pretty picture, it’s vital.
Beyond that, you need a platform that has the scope and flexibility to actually fulfil your creative needs.
For our money, a Squarespace photography website is the best choice for professional photographers, offering stunning templates, unparalleled design flexibility, great marketing and SEO tools, and a suite of essential ecommerce tools to help you sell your work.
That said, you’ll be able to create a fantastic looking photography portfolio using any of the five platforms we’ve reviewed above. Which one you choose might come down to budget, aesthetics, or the complexity of tools and services you require.
All offer a free trial period or basic free plan. So, if you’re really struggling to decide, why not test out a couple and see which one works best for you? After all, there’s usually no obligation to provide card details until you upgrade to a paid plan.