7 Great Tools For Building Your Photography Portfolio Website

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If there is one essential thing that every photographer that is trying to make a living off of the craft must have, it is a website. 

Photo by Burst from Pexels

And it can’t just be any website. It has to be a website that not only captures the essence and spirit of the photographer’s art but is also of as high quality as the images he produces. 

After all, how seriously would you take a photography portfolio presented in basic HTML and color block text? 

But therein is the problem for so many of us: We’re photographers, not web designers. 

Luckily for those of us that are less technically inclined, there is a range of options out there to help you build your online photography portfolio site. 

Best of all is that each caters to a different skill level or comfort with technology and all of them produce dynamic, beautiful websites that will help your work stand out from the crowd and convert visitors into clients.

Tools For Building Portfolio Websites 

We’ve reviewed some of the best tools out there that help photographers build online portfolio websites and we think these seven companies not only excel in this field but also provide a true value-add to a photographer’s overall business. 

We’ve done the hard work and research for you so you don’t have to go through the often grueling trial-and-error process so many of us experience when trying to go online with our own website. 

Because of that, we’ve broken down these websites into salient features with a list of pros and cons at the end of each short review. 

We’ll also give you some insight into the level of expected technical ability you might need to take full advantage of each platform. 

Here’s what we looked at when evaluating online photography portfolio tools:

Ease of Use

When evaluating a platform for building websites, we have to look at the ease of use of the platform in question. This is because our readers, like most of the world, come from varied backgrounds and not all of us have the strongest technical abilities. We will try our best to give you some idea of the level of ability you need to have with each platform as well as describe what kinds of services and support are there for you when you need it. 

Features And Options

Websites are so much more than just a place to visit on the Internet. They are also hubs for a community, for commerce, and a place of discovery. When evaluating these platforms, we looked at what options they offer, how scalable the design is, and what kind of support is there to help users take full advantage of the technologies these platforms offer. 

Scalability 

Scalability refers to a service’s ability to both handle your traffic and adapt to your changing needs. We try to describe each platform in terms of its ultimate potential as well as what kinds of markets it caters to at the end of the day. Whether scalability is an important factor in your decision-making process is up to you but it helps to know what a platform’s limitations are prior to signing up for it. 

Overall Design

When we talk about design, we’re discussing the templates the platform offers as well as the customization options each gives. In addition to that, some platforms specialize in more dynamic designs than others do and we note that where appropriate. 

Price

For each platform we reviewed, we give you a current pricing scheme as published on the platform’s website at the time of publication of this article. 

With all of that said, here are our seven great tools for building your online photography portfolio site:  

Photo by Logo from SITE123

Best Of Tools

SITE123

SITE123 takes a unique approach to website design and management. To start, SITE123 has some of the most amazing and responsive customer service out there. If running a website really intimidates you, then SITE123 has your back. Another thing we really liked about SITE123 is that it prompts you, at the start, to tell them what niche or audience your website is targeting. Naturally, being photographers, you’ll probably want to check out that category. 

Given that, if you’re looking for a simple solution, SITE123 has you covered. On the downside of things, the limited range of options means that you are also similarly limited in the creative expression you want to bring to your website. Also, the features are somewhat limited compared to others on this list and the platform is not immediately scaleable with prohibitive storage limits and a template that is pretty much set once you decide on it. 

Pros:

  • The best customer service in the business
  • The fast and responsive team behind your website at all times
  • Easy to set up and maintain as well as relatively pain-free from that point forward

Cons:

  • Template styles are limited
  • Not scaleable
  • Lacking in many features others have on this list

Pricing: 

Free

  • $0 /Month
  • 250 MB Storage
  • 250 MB Bandwidth
  • Subdomain

Premium

  • $USD 12.80 /Month
  • Free domain for 1 year
  • 10GB storage
  • 5GB bandwidth
  • Remove SITE123 floating tag
  • Connect your domain
  • E-commerce
Photo by Logo from WordPress

WordPress

Probably no stranger to those of us that have done this for a while, WordPress is a stalwart of the website-building scene and a powerful platform for photographers. We have to clarify that there are two versions or, let’s say, platforms for WordPress. There is the WordPress.com website portal that lets you manage a WordPress-based website directly with them but we’re not talking about that version of WordPress. We’re talking about the version of WordPress used by hosting games and others to build websites. 

This is sometimes referred to as WordPress.org though that is only the website discussing the platform not the platform itself. One thing we love about WordPress is that it is constantly changing and evolving. It has a powerful set of features that dwarfs the competition and a viable ecosystem of contributors and programmers building plug-ins and other free and paid stuff for the platform. 

Though it has gone through many changes over its life – from a largely HTML-heavy website to an almost drag-and-drop approach that is used now – WordPress has remained a go-to platform for photographers and other digital media specialists that are blogging and communicating with a community of fans and clients. You can do this with pretty much any service on this list to one degree or another, but only WordPress gives you almost absolute control over how content is presented and what features your website has. 

As you can imagine, WordPress does require some technical know-how, especially if you want to take full advantage of the platform and its powerful features. If you can’t afford a team of experts or even just one, it might be better to stick with a platform that handles a lot of the heavy lifting for you. WordPress does have many cool features but, because of the constant updates and shifting nature of the mother platform, you’d be shocked at how often plug-ins break and themes look like a mess after only a slight update is implemented. 

This makes updating and maintaining WordPress a chore and one that is well worth it for photographers that need to build out complex conversion flows, website ordering systems, community forums and email newsletters, teaching courses, and other such ancillary revenue streams. 

Pros:

  • Huge list of available plugins and features
  • Great options for smooth user experience
  • Endlessly scaleable 

Cons:

  • Requires some technical know-how
  • Maintenance is a pain
  • Too many moving parts for a casual user

Pricing:

  • WordPress itself is free and comes as part of your hosting package if you have signed up with a WordPress hosting provider. 
Photo by Logo from Duda

Duda

Duda is quite pricey but you get what you pay for with a range of customization options and a robust approach to features and add-ons. Created with the idea that website administration should largely be a set-it-and-forget-it proposition, Duda doesn’t skimp on features nor does it dumb down the technical aspect of things to accommodate a general audience. If you’ve got the money to afford it and you need a powerful platform, Duda is an amazing option for digital media specialists that want levels of customization that surpass even the vaunted Squarespace while still retaining that platform’s quintessential ease of use and friendly interface. 

Pros:

  • Amazing design options
  • Customization options surpassing even Squarespace
  • Widgets and apps further customization and scalability options 

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Quite reliant on the template’s design

Pricing:

Basic

  • Buy by site
  • $14 per month 
  • 1 website included
  • Sites hosted by AWS
  • Email support

Team

  • Expanded access
  • $29 per month
  • 1 website included
  • Sites hosted by AWS
  • Phone, chat & email support
  • Your brand on every part of the platform
  • Access to team & client management features

Agency

  • Save at scale
  • $59 per month, billed annually
  • 4 websites & AWS hosting included
  • Priority support via phone, chat & email
  • Your brand on every part of the platform
  • Access to team & client management features
  • Dynamic pages connected to customer data
  • Extensible widget builder

Custom

  • Create your plan
  • Tiered discount pricing
  • Access to Duda’s robust API
  • Single sign-on (SSO)
  • Integration with external datasets
  • Onboarding & account management
  • Unlimited access to team & client management features
  • Additional high-value managed services
Photo by Logo from Weebly

Weebly

An interesting competitor on the scene, Weebly’s recent purchase by Squarespace means that both platforms get to benefit from Weebly’s massive app database but the platform might not be as ideal for creatives moving forward. That said, we love Weebly and its mix of features as well as immediate scalability options. If you need to strike a balance between the technical robustness of a WordPress system and the beauty and simplicity of a Squarespace build, then Weebly if your solution. That’s probably why Squarespace bought the company but, aside from that, we cannot stress enough just how cool Weebly’s app ecosystem is and how many powerful options it gives administrators and creators. 

One caveat to all of this is that because you are in the middle ground between WordPress’s do-it-yourself ethic and Squarespace’s “we’ll handle everything” motto, if things go down, you’re at the mercy of Weebly’s support team. For some of us that can be a great thing, but for those of us that like to have control and want things done expeditiously, being at the mercy of a third-party entirely if your website has issues might be a big ask. 

Pros:

  • Robust design 
  • Amazing app ecosystem
  • Immediately scaleable

Cons:

  • A huge reliance on customer service if things go wrong

Pricing: 

Basic use

  • Free

Personal

  • Connect to a custom domain
  • $6 per month billed annually
  • $9 month-to-month

Professional

  • Build a professional, branded website for your business
  • $12 per month billed annually
  • $16 month-to-month

Performance

  • Manage and grow your business with integrated eCommerce tools
  • $26 per month billed annually
  • $29 month-to-month
Photo by Logo from Wix

Wix

Another massive platform that is emerging as a place photographers should check out is Wix. Like Squarespace, Wix purports to offer an all-in-one solution for creating beautiful websites with minimal technical know-how or need for maintenance.

And it mostly succeeds on all of these fronts. For one, it uses templates to help users outline and design their websites. While these templates can be customized to a great degree, we found that many of them tend to look the same after a while. Don’t get us wrong: They’re all beautiful but the relative homogeneity of presentation might not be what photographers are looking for in a dynamic portfolio website. Again, as with Squarespace, you get a tradeoff on design with ease of use. 

You can basically drag and drop design your website and you can make changes as needed without worrying about breaking something. Wix also generates very mobile-friendly iterations of its desktop websites and this cannot be discounted in a world where more and more consumers are on their smartphone or tablet instead of their laptop or at their desktop. 

There aren’t many reasons to recommend Wix over Squarespace but, if you’re doing some comparison shopping, we thought it best to offer you a competitive alternative to that platform. 

Pros: 

  • Easy to use and navigate
  • Drag-and-drop and plug-and-play features make design a breeze 
  • Maintenance and updates are handled for you

Cons:

  • Not as many features as in Squarespace and WordPress
  • Limited range of options with some templates
  • More robust competitors on the market

Pricing: 

VIP

  • First priority support
  • $39 per month

Pro

  • Complete online branding
  • $23 per month

Unlimited

  • Entrepreneurs & freelancers
  • $18 per month

Combo

  • For Personal Use
  • $14 per month
Photo by Logo from SmugMug

SmugMug 

Another player that needs little introduction, SmugMug has provided photographers with easy, beautiful, and effective portfolio websites for years. That’s probably because they pretty much focus exclusively on our niche! 

Even so, we do think there are certain photographers that could really benefit from SmugMug more than others. First, let’s outline what you get when you sign up for their platform. To start, you get unlimited, full-resolution photo storage. That’s a pretty big deal for a lot of us and gives you an opportunity to show off your work unfiltered and uncompromised. You also have a range of customized privacy settings so that you can make certain albums or galleries available to specific users and closed off from the general public. 

In addition to its range of portfolio website building tools, SmugMug also comes equipped with some powerful eCommerce options that make monetizing your work easy and simple. There is a way for users to print photos at a charge as well as sell them directly from your website. Because of this and the robust security options SmugMug has, this platform is pretty ideal for event photographers and those who make money off of selling commemorative photographs to multiple clients. The platform also offers integrated online photo editing and a team of real humans to help you with support and troubleshooting on your website when you need it. 

Like many others on this list, SmugMug also maintains iOS and Android apps to give users access to website editing and monitoring features on their phones or tablets wherever they may be that has an Internet connection.

Pros:

  • Awesome integration options for event photographers and those that sell their work online
  • Unlimited full-resolution photo storage
  • Intuitive user interface and general ease of setup and use

Cons:  

  • Limited non-portfolio options
  • Can be pricey for people with less-monetizable portfolios
  • Not as many features as WordPress

Pricing: 

Basic

  • $55 per year
  • Save 35% when billed annually.
  • Or $7 monthly.
  • Perfect for you if you’re simply looking for a beautiful, safe home for your photos

Power

  • $85 per year
  • Save 36% when billed annually
  • Or $11 monthly
  • Perfect for you if you’re interested in advanced control over the way your photo site looks

Portfolio

  • $200 per year
  • Save 38% when billed annually
  • Or $27 monthly
  • Perfect for you if you’re ready to start selling your photos

Pro

  • $360 per year
  • Save 29% when billed annually
  • Or $41.99 monthly
  • Perfect if you are a professional photographer and need a robust workflow and client tools
Photo by Logo from Squarespace

Squarespace 

Probably one of the best overall websites for photographers that want to build an online portfolio, Squarespace is not only intuitive and easy-to-use but also it is focused on digital media, video, and imagery. In other words, it is perfect for our field. 

Billing itself as the leader in website design, Squarespace brings a bevy of awesome technologies to your fingertips that makes generating a professional website simple and fast. It also makes updates and keeping on trend with the latest technology as easy as possible because much of that work is handled by the service itself. This leaves you all of the time in the world to focus on your work. 

Though it is primarily known for its beautiful, drag-and-drop templates, Squarespace also provides powerful blogging tools and even SEO tools to help you capture your audience and convert them into clients. Backing all of this are analytical insights that are easy to read and understand as well as offer actionable data that you can use to make decisions about the content and direction of your online portfolio. There are also a range of apps and tools that you can literally plug-and-play into your online portfolio without fear of it messing anything up. 

For users that are always on the go, there is a mobile editing mode that turns your smartphone or tablet into a powerful website editing tool. Truly living up to its advertising as a one-stop-shop for all things you need to get a competent, beautiful, and powerful website up and running. And it’s only going to get better from here as more and more people use Squarespace and the company refines and expands their technology. 

That said, Squarespace definitely silos you into certain milieus, aesthetics, or approaches to web growth. If you’re looking at a website as one among many things that you will use to gain exposure and new clients, this is all well and good but, if you think you will need more powerful or flexible options in the future, then Squarespace could prove limiting for your purposes. 

Pros:

  • Ease of use
  • Beautiful websites and powerful plug-ins 
  • Rapidly expanding set of features and technology

Cons:

  • More limited than a platform like WordPress
  • You are locked into the Squarespace ecosystem
  • Lacking in some of the more powerful features platforms like WordPress and Drupal have by default

Pricing: 

Personal

  • $12 per month
  • Save 25% annually

Business

  • $18 per month
  • Save 30% annually

Commerce

  • $26 per month
  • Save 13% annually

Commerce

  • $40 per month
  • Save 13% annually

Further Reading:

About Author

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Kehl is our staff photography news writer and has over a decade of experience in online media and publishing and you can get to know him better here

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