Livebooks vs A Photo Folio

screenshot of old flash website

Back in the day (like ten years ago or more) Adobe Flash was the bomb! That’s my original flash site above. Then the iphone and ipad came along. Viewed on a mobile device, my website looked horrible.

screenshot of new website featuring thumbnails of fitness photos

Flash limped along on the Android for a while but Apple refused to adopt it and I’ve noticed 95 percent of my clients use iphones these days.

So I started shopping around for another website. Livebooks said for years they were going to switch to HTML5 and they kept saying it and saying it. I called them in December 2015 and spoke with them about their HTML5 timeline and all they could say is, “Coming soon”. Finally this spring livebooks rolled it out and gave me a sample HTML5 site that I immediately set up with my content. It was great though they did say if you switched layout you had to completely start over. Huh? And then when I requested the site go live, they asked for my billing information. I was a bit surprised since I had already paid for a one-year subscription to their site in December. And no other email had mentioned anything about the price involved for this switch over from flash to html5.

The flash site cost $90/year after the initial design which comes out to $7.50/mo. Livebooks was now asking for $48/month which is more than a 600-percent increase! Holy smokes! And note that I chose that option because the cheaper $24/month option does not include phone support. And let me tell you – email support for livebooks totally sucks. It’s the worst. They can take up to a week to respond to a simple question. It’s really awful. So awful they now charge you double to get phone support. That’s an interesting business model – offer one service so bad that your clients will ultimately go with the double cost service just to avoid the bad service.

Anyway, cost is definitely not my only criteria when it comes to a website. But livebooks struggling customer service is a real issue. If you gotta pay double just to get a live person on the line that’s pretty fucked up.

Okay, so while I was waiting for livebooks to reply to my email questions, I signed up for a trial site at A Photo Folio. It was easy and simple to use and I got my site set up fast. The design is straight forward and easy to use. Did I mention how much I like the design? Everything a photographer needs and nothing they don’t. And the price was cheaper than livebooks. $34/month no set-up costs or $1000 set-up and $17/month. Did the math and after five years the $1000 set-up option starts paying off so that’s the best deal if you can swing it.

In terms of mobile devices, both sites looked great. I used to tell people to look at my website on an actual computer so flash worked. Now I can finally be happy with how it looks on mobile devices!

The true test came when I had to email to take my site live and get a sitemap code embedded, etc, etc. A Photo Folio got back to me within minutes. Not a week like livebooks – but minutes. And they didn’t charge me extra for that. So there you have it. A Photo Folio is cheaper, easier, and has far, far better customer support for all clients at no extra cost. They definitely win in this contest.

© 2016 Pete Springer

tel: 503.936.9121 | | instagram: @petespinger

Pete Springer Photography website

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