Make a Website

Viewbook's primary function is building photography websites. The site creator is broken into two areas: "Sites" and "Albums." "Albums" is where you upload and organize the imagery for your site. "Sites" is where you create different types of pages to showcase your images.

Page types

A site can have as many pages as you like. There are 6 types of pages:

Square Grid

The “Square Grid” conveys your images in square thumbnails or poster images. The space between the images is adjustable, as is the number of columns displayed. Individual images can be highlighted for emphasis, and clicking on an image in the grid opens an overlay that functions a bit like the Slideshow Gallery. It is a versatile and powerful way to present your photographs. 

Vertical Grid

The "Vertical Grid" is very similar to the Square Grid with a few differences. The main difference is that instead of displaying only squares, this grid maintains the original aspect ratio of photographs and scales them by width in vertical columns. Both the Vertical Grid and the Square Grid use an optional overlay that opens a full-window presentation of all the images in the gallery.

Slideshow Gallery

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The "Slideshow" is our standard gallery, and it displays one glorious image at a time. You may choose to add navigation arrows and thumbnails if you wish, and it is possible to include buttons to share, download, or view full screen.

Scrolling Gallery

The "Scrolling Gallery" is a row of images that scroll from left to right, and back again. The scroll scales dynamically according to your settings and screen size, and is particularly good for linear narratives. That said, it can be used for any project.

Collection

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This page is a "Collection" of cover images that represent albums in your account. Drag an album to the collection, and a cover image will be created. The cover image will link to that album, unless you specify a different page in your the site. You may also link cover images to other pages in your site.

Text

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The text page is primarily used for CV, biographical, or contact information, but it is also possible to embed videos and other externally hosted elements within. Click on the text box in the center of a "Text" page, and start typing!

Layout

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There are three layout options for each type of page: left, right, and top.

  1. Select a page from your list of sites and pages.
  2. Select the "Page" tab.
  3. Choose an option in the "Layout" dropdown menu under the "Page" tab.
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More options can be found in the "Advanced" section of the "Page" tab. Try them if you dare!

Note: Changes made to the "Layout" are applied only to that "Page," so style one "Page," and create a "Preset." Apply the preset to your other pages, and behold.

Scaling

New pages are scalable by default. The images and styles in the page will change size depending on the size and shape of the browser window. If you select the page tab and click on advanced options you will see several check boxes. One of them is scalable. If the scalable box is checked, and it usually is, there will also be an option for full width.

Even wider: a full width site

The "Full width" setting will make your site scale to the right and left edges of the page. This is not always the best option, but if your images are oriented horizontally they will display much larger.

With the setting turned on, a 16:9 ratio image will look like this:

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Versus the same 16:9 image with the regular settings.

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Note: Make sure you have "Scalable" switched on. "Full width" is a sub-setting of "Scalable."
Also note: If you disable the full-width and scalable options, your site will be a fixed width of around 840 pixels.


Flash Free Site!

It has been possible to have a Flash free Viewbook website for quite awhile. All our new pages are Flash-free, and you can convert the old Flash Album Page to the new non-Flash Slideshow Gallery with just a few steps. A few pieces of the manager still rely on Flash. We plan to eliminate them very soon, but the most important things is that the potential clients who go to your site to view your work aren't asked to update a plugin.
Some of the benefits of converting your pages to non-Flash versions include:

  • No Flash = no browser hassles. Some browsers block Flash by default, and others frequently require updates for security reasons. It is getting more difficult and time consuming to use Flash every day. 
  • The non-Flash versions load faster.
  • Google punishes sites that require plugins in SEO.
  • Non-Flash albums render color better.

Convert Album page to Slideshow Gallery. 

Convert Album Page

To switch or preview the slideshow on your album page you need to click the blue button in the upper right hand corner of the page when you are editing it. 

  1. Select an album page from the list of pages in your site while logged into the manager. 
  2. Click the "Convert to new Gallery" button in the blue box near the top right hand corner of the page.
  3. Re-style the album if necessary

Convert Collection to open non-Flash galleries

Non Flash Collection

If you use Collections in your site, click the thumbnail tab and check the box that says "enable non-Flash galleries."

  1. Select a Collection from the list of pages in your site while logged into the manager. 
  2. Click the "Thumbnails" tab at the top. 
  3. One of the options under the "Thumbnails" tab is "Enable non-Flash galleries." Check the box and don't look back
  4. Re-style each album if necessary.

Read this for more information. I know it's a bit confusing. If you are completely confused contact support, and we'll do our best to figure something out for you. 

Presets

You can save time by creating page presets. After you have styled your page:

  • Click "My presets" and select "Save page as preset."
  • Highlight a different page.
  • Select the recently created preset from the "My Presets" drop down menu.
  • "Apply preset" to page.
  • Repeat until all your pages have the same style.

There are also presets for albums. Go here for information about album style presets.

Fonts

Font options are found under the "Text" tab. They are organized in three groups called "Elements."

  • "Base text" is the body of any text page as well as the side text of any right or left layout page.
  • "Title" controls page titles on right or left layout pages.
  • "Menu" is for the menu.

Select a text "Element" and change the font family, size, or color by making selections under the categories in the "Font" tab.

Any changes affect only that element, and are applied on that page only, so you'll need to change the settings on each of your pages. You may also create a "Preset" to save a page style, and apply the style to your other pages.

Background

If you would like to use a picture as the background for one of your pages:

  • Select a page.
  • Choose the background tab.
  • Click "Upload" button with the arrow next to it.
  • Navigate to the image on your computer.

After the image is uploaded, you can set it to be scalable and decide whether it should align to the left or center. There are instances when a scalable background is undesirable, but generally, scalable is the way to go.

Background size

Background images can be any size. Larger images will scale nicely, but they also take longer to load, so we don't recommend using gigantic files. A moderately compressed file, around 2200 pixels wide, will work well for most scalable backgrounds. You can try something larger for ultra crispness on high density screens like the Retina MacBook Pro, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and you may not need a razor sharp background. Be prepared to upload a few versions to see what works best for you. If you don't care about scaling, upload any size image you want, and everything will be awesome.

Text Editing

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To edit text on a page click on any text field and start typing. Click outside the text area when you are finished, and your changes will be saved. URLs and email addresses will be formatted to clickable links automatically. There are also several text styling options:

Create a link

When you add a URL (like http://www.example.com) to the body or side text of a page Viewbook will convert it to a link automatically. You may also:

  1. Highlight the text you wish to convert to a link.
  2. Click the "link" icon at the top of the text block.
  3. Fill in the URL of the site you want to link to.
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Bold. Italic. Underline.

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  1. Highlight the text you wish to embolden, italicize, or underline.
  2. Click the corresponding button at the top of the text block.
  3. Voila.

Note: Changes will be visible in the live page, not while editing the site.

Add Images to Text

To add an image to your text:

  1. Get the URL for the image.
  2. Paste the URL into your text block.
  3. Add an exclamation point (!) to both sides of the URL.
!http://images.us.viewbook.com/yourimage.jpg!

Add titles and descriptions to Images

You can find more information about this here.

Add Icons for Social Media Accounts

To add social media options, go to the dashboard, fill in your account names in the appropriate text fields, and click save.
Make sure you don't add the entire URL. The account name will suffice.

Note: If there is any doubt about your social media account name, look at the URL. The last segment of the URL is generally your account name. For example, the URL to my Facebook account is https://www.facebook.com/jim.turbert, so, I would enter jim.turbert in the field in the Viewbook Dashboard, not "Jim Turbert." See what I mean? Some Facebook accounts have long strings of numbers attached. I'm not sure why, but if they are in the URL you need to add them to the Dashboard.

Video

Viewbook does not host Video, but you can embed anything hosted by Vimeo or Youtube in a Text Page. Get the video's embed code and paste it into the text block on your page.

Instructions for getting the Vimeo embed code.
Instructions for getting the Youtube embed code.

Blog

Viewbook doesn't offer a blog, but you may integrate an externally hosted blog using its RSS feed.

If you use Tumblr, paste this code into a text page:

[tag:tumblr url="http://example.tumblr.com/" show_collection="true" title_size="14" items="10"]
  1. Create a text page.
  2. Paste the code into the text block.
  3. Change the example address to the URL of your Tumblr page.
  4. Open the page and admire its beauty.

The other attributes can be changed to customize how the feed is rendered in your page.

  • url="the link to your tumblr blog"
  • title_size="the size you want the blog titles to display on the page" - the number is relative. Try a few things.
  • items="the number of blog posts you want to display on the page"

If you use a blog other than Tumblr:

This code will harness the power of your blog's RSS feed.

[tag:rss items="10" url="http://www.link_to_your_feed.com" title_size="15" content_tag="content_encoded"]
  1. Create a text page.
  2. Paste the code into the text block.
  3. Change the example address to the URL of your blog's RSS feed.
  4. You may have to experiment to see which "content_tag" parameters work for your blog. If the default "content_encoded" doesn't work for you, try:

    content_tag="description"
    content_tag="content"
    content_tag="blogger"

Other parameters include:

  • items="the number of blog posts you want to display on the page"
  • title_size="the size you want the blog titles to display on Viewbook"

See demo page: http://demo.viewbook.com/demo_rss/weblog_rss_feed

Favicon

A favicon is a small icon that personalizes your website in browser address bars and tabs. When looking at a list of URLs, a favicon can help your address stand out.

To add a favicon to your site:

  1. Go to the account dashboard and click "Upload favicon." It's in the middle of the page.
  2. Navigate to a suitable file on your computer.

That should do it. It's best to use a square PNG, GIF (not animated), JPEG, or .ico. Make sure the file is at least 64x64 pixels.

Google/SEO

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Get noticed.

SEO, as a subject, is sort of complicated, but the basic idea is that you need to optimize your site to make it more attractive to search engines. Although aspects of SEO may periodically change at the whim of our digital overlords, there are elements of (S)earch (E)ngine (O)ptimization that are rock solid. Exploiting those elements will help you conquer your market.

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Your homepage settings are most important. Click on the "Settings" icon while you are editing a page, and a box with a bunch of fields will open.

  1. Browser Title
    This is effectively the name of your site, so leaving this field blank is a bad idea. If you are a fashion photographer in London, then you might want to use "London Fashion Photographer" as your site's title.
  2. Google Description
    This is what Google will tell people about your site when they look it up, so make it good, and make sure the info is pertinent. Don't get too wordy. A few sentences about who you are, what you do, and where you do it will work wonders. Keep it around 150 well chosen characters.
  3. Google Keywords
    This one isn't quite as important as the other two. Add a comma separated list of keywords, but don't go crazy. If you enter too many words Google will ignore them. You should focus on a handful of the most important aspects of your site, business, or practice, for example:
    Edward Adams, documentary, photographer, Amsterdam

Do you see a pattern? Keep it simple. Keep it specific. Make it about you.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor and maintain your site's presence in Google Search results. You don't have to sign up for Search Console for your site to be included in Google's search results, but doing so can help you understand how Google views your site.

You can enable Google Search Console for your Viewbook website by clicking on "Verify your site with Google" in the Dashboard.

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Go to the Search Console Help Center to learn more about Google Search Console.

Google Analytics

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If you want to see how many people are looking at your site, Google Analytics is the way to do it. Analytics tracks how many visitors your site gets and provides a lot of valuable information about how effective or ineffective your site is. Verifying your site with Analytics works the same way it does for Search Console. You may as well do both at the same time.

Sign up or learn more about Google Analytics here.

FYI - Google supplies you with a long string of code to insert in your pages so they can track you. You don't need to worry about that.

  1. Sign up for an Analytics account
  2. Go to the Dashboard in your account.
  3. Go through the verification process by clicking on "Verify your site with Google."
  4. Follow the prompts.

Other ways to boost page rank.

To optimize your search results, you need to understand what search engines are looking for when they rank your site. You have to make sure your site is search engine ready.

  • Get listed
    There are several ways to get listed on Google, but be warned it can take some time. It frequently takes a month or two before any changes are noticed.

    1. The first way to get listed in Google is to use their own Add URL form located here https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/submit-url. Google admits that they may not add every site, so don't be surprised if this does not work for you.
    2. Get linked from a site that is already in Google. When the Googlebots visit the listed site for an update, it will pick up the link to your site and add it. This method does not always work, but sometimes it does.
  • Backlinks
    Backlinks are links to your site from other sites. If you want to improve your listing, get other people to link to you. Obvious suggestions include fans of your work, industry organizations and other directories you belong to, meet-up groups, your close vendors, or studios. Have your buddies blog about you, and you can blog about them in return. Another easy way to get links is to use blog comments. Comment on blog articles and leave links in your comments. When possible, links to your pages should contain keywords about your page. In other words, don't use "click here" for anything, ever. Instead use something descriptive for your links. Don't randomly go to blogs and start leaving your link everywhere willy nilly. Big G(oogle) is pretty smart about this. They may penalize or ignore you if the backlink proves to be impertinent.
  • Maintain a blog.
    There are plenty of free blogging services available, so all you need to do is set one up and feed it with content regularly. Make sure there are links to your site on this blog. Don't know what to blog about? Talk about the gear you use, or write about recent assignments. Why not review Viewbook? Keep track of your stats. If you use Google Analytics, you'll see if your efforts are paying off.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make my site Flash free?

Check thisRead this for even more information. 

Are there browser requirements?

Yes, there are. In general, an up to date modern browser is recommended, but the requirements for Viewbook websites can be found here. The requirements for the Viewbook Manager can be found here.

For the time being, you also need to keep Flash player up to date on your system. Even if you aren't using Flash-based pages in your site, Flash is still required for managing images in the site manager. This requirement will be removed at some point in the near future, but until that time you can get the most recent version of Flash here - https://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/

Also keep in mind that you will need a current browser when updating or adding payment information. Our payment gateway utilizes the latest versions of the SSL protocol for your (and our!) protection. Older browsers won't let you update your credit card because they were created before the most recent SSL certificates were.

How do I set my Viewbook homepage?

Any page in your account can be your homepage!

1 - Select the page you want to use as your home in the in the image manager.

2 - Click the settings button in the top bar. It looks like a wrench.

3- Check the "Set this webpage as my homepage" box.

Can I add new Fonts to Viewbook?

No, you cannot, but we offer some beautiful options from Google, as well as all the standard web safe fonts.

How do I remove "Made with Viewbook"?

Can I edit my site while I am uploading images?

You may open Viewbook in a different browser window if you'd like to continue working while your files upload.

Do I need a webhosting account?

No. Viewbook hosts all your images and pages. You need a host for your domain name and DNS records, if you choose to use one. Most domain hosts allow you to manage DNS for free if you buy your domain from them.

Are your websites optimized for mobile display?

Yes! New accounts display the optimized mobile site by default. If you have an older account (before April 2015) you may need to activate the optimized mobile view in the Dashboard. Click on the "Enable" button under Settings / Mobile Site.

Why are my images loading slowly?

There are a few possible reasons for slow loading times.

  1. Your network connection is slow for some reason.
  2. Viewbook is slow for some reason. Maybe EVERYONE is uploading at the same time.
  3. Our CDN is experiencing issues in your locale.
  4. This is probably what it is - The images aren't cached at the CDN yet.

A CDN caches the images on their servers so they will load faster all over the world. The only downside to this is the that the images load slowly the first time. After that, they are super fast. When you upload a new batch of images, look through the album online. This should expedite the caching process.

Can I have two websites in a single account?

You can create multiple sites in Viewbook, but you can only use one domain name per account. Additional sites will show up as directories of your main site. For instance, if your domain is example.com, you could have a site called example.com/kittens or example.com/bowling.

If you'd like to use two domain names you will need a second account.

Can I use two domain names?

You can create multiple sites in Viewbook, but you can only use one domain name per account. Additional sites will show up as directories of your main site. For instance, if your domain is example.com, you could have a site called example.com/kittens or example.com/bowling.

If you'd like to use two domain names you will need a second account.

No.

We are in compliance with European Cookie Law. The cookies used on your site are essential session cookies (login, etc) and a Google Analytics cookie. The analytics cookies are unessential, but we use them to see how we are doing as a company, not to target individuals for marketing or anything else. In fact, we use IP masking in our Google Analytics account, so we cannot see data about individuals. If you really feel the need to, you can type something up, and paste it into your homepage. In the footer, maybe.
If you get a warning (you will be the first!), let me know, and we will assess the situation.

Why don't you have phone support?

There are so many reasons! Here are the biggest:

  • SPEED! There is no need to ask what your account name is, what your email address is, etc. I get your email, I click a link, and I am in your account without having to ask a slew of questions.
  • CLARITY! You can send us supporting information like screenshots or screen captures to illustrate your problems, and we can do the same to illustrate our proposed solutions.
  • ORDER! Looking at incoming requests visually enables us to quickly see what problems are being reported and when. If lots of people are having the same issue we can analyze and begin solving the issue before we respond to your message, without the distraction of a constantly ringing phone.
  • PRECISION! Most support with around the clock phone service is outsourced to a call center. Call center employees are generally not experts. They work from a script, and they delegate your requests accordingly. You still have to wait until the expert is available. At Viewbook, we are all experts, and we know the software very well. If you need the assistance of a developer you may need to wait a bit longer, but you are far better off emailing us than you are getting some dude in a call center. It’s worth the wait.