Showitfast is the latest edition to the showit series of software tools for photographers from renowned wedding photographer David Jay. While not a programmer himself David Jay found things that photographers needed, found the programmers who knew how to create a solution for it, and the showit series is the result of this. For example the recent slides on this blog are created using the showitweb software.
Showitfast is written using Adobe AIR, which is a cross-operating system runtime that lets developers combine HTML, Ajax, Flash, and Flex technologies to deploy rich internet applications (RIA’s) on the desktop.
So for the photographer looking to get a website showitfast is both template and tool. They do have many template options, but then each can be totally customized or you can build a new site from scratch.
Two things that separate showitfast from other templates besides the customization options is”Search Engine Optimization” and “Deep Linking” both of which are well described by these two items from the showitfast FAQ quoted here:
What is “Search Engine Optimization”?
For most Flash sites it is very difficult to optimize the content for search engines because search engines have a hard time understanding and linking directly to content inside a Flash site. With Showit Sites we are creating text versions of your entire site and links so that when search engines read your site there will be multiple pages linked together. This means that every page in your site can be listed in search results and when a user clicks on the search result it can take them directly to that page in your Flash site using “Deep Linking”.
What is “Deep Linking”?
Deep linking means that every page on your Flash site has a unique URL. This means that if you create a page in Showit Sites, you will be able to copy the link to the page and email that to someone and it will take them directly to that page. Most Flash sites force you to go to the home page and navigate through the site to get to a page, but with Showit Sites you can link directly to any page in your site. This feature can be very useful if you have distinct sections of your site that you want to link to from a blog post or an email, or if you create a unique page for each of your clients you can send them directly to their page.
For a simple example of deep linking here is a link directly to my pricing page on the showitfast version of my site.
Now on my bludomain template there is simply no way for me to provide a direct link to that similar content but rather have to have you go to the website and follow the buttons.
So for the pro side of the comparision we have immense control over style and content, deep linking and better search engine optimization and I still didn’t have to install a web editor on my PC to do it. . Sounds good so why doesn’t everybody move over to that?
First of all that immense customization requires the photographer to be a designer, or deal with a very limited number of templates. For creative people not all of us should be turned loose building web pages that have lots of bells and whistles. Simple changes are easy, but it still takes time. When I first started working on my showitfast site I was trying to make something textured like my others sites look, but while looking at some images from recent weddings I realized I had lovely images for the background of the intro page as well as main content pages.
Hosting is also an issue. You have no choice but to host the content with them. At the normal template sites you usually pay for the template and then have the option of hosting with them or moving to your own host. With showitfast you have no choice but to host with them. Downside of this is they don’t do email – which means you’ll need another option to route your business email, which can be set up easy enough through gmail.
Cost is another issue. At for example Bludomain I pay once for the template and then pay a smaller hosting fee since I host with them. When the year of my hosting is up I just pay them another years worth of hosting, but the template is paid for – I don’t have to pay for it again. With showit you’re just leasing your space and design. Pay either monthly or yearly – but the same cost will always be there. A year of hosting through Showitfast is about the same as one of Bludomains top templates.
Which is better. Like many things in life the answer is “it depends”. Some are going to suite some people better than others. But it’s great to have a choice.
For me I’ll run both wedding websites for a few months and see which I like better and more importantly which gets better indexed and generates more traffic from the search engines because in the end the website that makes it easier for the customer to find me and find the information they are looking for is the better website.