I’d like to start by welcoming all of your creative types to this Pixpa review.
I stumbled across them for the first time recently when researching one of their competitors.
I made a note of the name and told myself I’d come back to review them when I had a little time and I can tell you, I’m very glad I did!
I can say with confidence, that if you’re a photographer, designer, artist, or fashionista, then you’re in for quite a treat.
I’ve spent the last few days putting Pixpa through its paces and while it’s not perfect (I’m yet to find a platform that is), it definitely has a lot to offer.
Come with me and we’ll take a look at why it’s so good and just as importantly, what it’s missing that you might need to create a successful portfolio.
Disclosure: In the interest of transparency, I may be compensated if you sign-up using the links in this article. My top priority is, and always will be to help you and my opinions/recommendations will never be swayed by a potential commision.
Pixpa Overview – For Those In a Hurry!
1. Getting Started – Choose Your Template
As soon as you begin your free trial, you’ll then need to choose between one of Pixpa’s 37 themes (templates) which have been divided into various categories such as Portfolio, Stores, Business and Blogs.
I chose a design called Motto for my test site which you saw in the introduction. It came equipped with several pages of sample content including an about page, contact, and a gallery.
Pixpa presents you with plenty of styling options to help you customize your chosen theme including the layout, menus, fonts, text size and colors.
You could easily spend hours trying to make your site look perfect but I highly recommend getting your main content in place first such as your text and images. The fancy stuff can come after.
Advanced users amongst us will be pleased to know that you can access the CSS styling options is you wish to over-ride your website’s code.
2. Ease of Use – I Have Mixed Feelings
Some things such as editing text and uploading images couldn’t be simpler.
At the other end of the scale, I had a heck of a time (excuse my language) working with galleries on my homepage until I got the hang of things.
I found myself having to consult the tutorials and then the customer support team who by the way, are fantastic.
With that in mind, allow me to give you a quick breakdown of how things work.
Once you’ve chosen your template, you’ll be redirected to the design studio as you can see below;
Creating any type of site can be daunting at first but the studio gives you a birds-eye-view of the steps required to get up and running. Simply click on any of the links and you’ll be able to start work on that particular task.
Once you get inside the main site editor, it’s time to get your hands dirty!
You’ll see a menu at the top of the screen and the Website, Design and Settings tabs are the ones you’ll more than likely be using first.
Website: This tab was my first port of call. It’s where you go to add new pages/galleries, delete existing ones and add other content such as video or forms.
You’ll see a list of your current pages and galleries on the left-hand side and you simply click on them to begin making changes to that particular page.
You can also move these pages around by dragging and dropping them which change the order they appear in on your main site navigation.
Design: This tab is what’ll you’ll need when customizing the look and feel of your site.
From here, you can upload a logo, change the title & tagline, play around with colors, and alter the general layout of your website.
Settings: The first two we looked at are what I think of as the fun stuff!
The settings tab is a little more serious and you visit there when it’s time to think about your contents privacy & security, languages, and which social media profiles you wish to display on your site amongst other things.
3. Tools & Features
In this section, I want to walk you through what I believe are some of the most important features that you’d expect from a portfolio building platform.
Although not mentioned below, you can rest assured that the basics are there such as social media integration, as search bar so visitors can easily find what they’re looking for, and a guestbook which allows your visitors to leave comments and testimonials directly on your site.
Uploads & storage space
On the Lite plan (the cheapest, more on pricing later), you’ll be able to upload a maximum 200 images or photos. There aren’t restrictions on the other plans and you’ll have unlimited uploads.
Anything you do upload will be stored on Pixpa’s servers and you can download them at any point in the future if you wish.
Privacy & security
Rest assured that the level of privacy for your site is firmly in your control. You can choose to password protect your whole site or just client galleries. Flick a switch and stop people “right-clicking” your images and saving them.
If I were a photographer, I’d go a step further and take advantage of Pixpa’s watermarking capabilities (in the form of text or an image) as I did for my test site which you can see below;
To start the proofing process, you’ll first need to create a new album for your client.
From there, you can fill the album by choosing one or more galleries, add an event date, change the album URL (web address) to something memorable and decide whether or not to use a password.
Once inside, clients can browse the album, mark their favorites and even add comments. If you want, you can also give them the option to download the photos.
I was a little surprised to find that Pixpa doesn’t have a native image editor. It isn’t the end of the world, it just means that you’ll have to touch up your pictures before uploading them. If this is important to you, then you may be interested to know that SmugMug has a seamless PicMonkey integration.
Calendar & bookings
Quickly add a calendar from the main content menu (under the website tab) and then head over to main settings to block out periods of time when you’re busy/already booked.
Clients can then choose a date and send a message requesting a booking which will be directed to an email address of your choosing.
I’m pleased to report that Pixpa (unlike rival SmugMug), has put a lot of thought into creating a functional blogging platform which you can utilize to help drive traffic to your site or keep people informed of news and offers etc.
You’ll be able to add a post date, save drafts, use tags as a way to categorize your posts, add text, images, and video to your articles. The only thing I would like to have seen is a post scheduling tool but now I’m just being picky!
Search engines (SEO)
All of the important search engines settings there which you can utilize to achieve better rankings in the search results.
You can create relevant titles, descriptions and URL’s for each of your pages and Pixpa will automatically create a sitemap which contains a list of your site’s content which you can then submit to Google and Bing.
As long as you ensure you have relevant image titles before uploading, you’ll be able to add descriptions (ALT tags) which will help Google “read” your images.
This may sound like a basic feature that all platforms would offer but believe me, it’s really not!
Selling prints and products
I don’t mind admitting that I was impressed with Pixpa’s eCommerce offering. They have an array of tools and options to make selling through your site a breeze.
You can sell physical products such as art prints, digital products such as images, music, software, and even accept payment for your services.
While the payment processors will take a small transaction fee such as PayPal or credit cards (standard practice), Pixpa themselves do not which can’t be said for every platform!
One thing that’s missing for me at the moment though is order fulfillment which could be an issue for photographers and artists. Anything you sell such as prints and products will have to be fulfilled by yourself.
I’ve spoken to the support team and they told me they’ll be integrating print labs such as WHCC in the near future which I for one am looking forward to!
In the meantime, if this is essential for you then SmugMug already has four print integrated print labs based in the US and the Uk which are Loxley, Bay Photo, EXPrints and the aforementioned WHCC.
4. Customer Support – In a Word, Fantastic
When I create these types of reviews, customer support is something I take very seriously as your bound to run into issues or have questions at some point during your journey.
First off, Pixpa has a plethora of written tutorials and an FAQ section that’ll walk you through just about any aspect of setting up your website.
But at some point, you’re more than likely need help from a real person and I have to say, very few support teams are as helpful and attentive as the guys I have spoken with over at Pixpa.
I’ve contacted them countless times now via live chat about various things and they couldn’t do enough to help.
The team are genuinely there to support you and help you get your site working just as you want rather than simply fielding questions which is quite often the case.
As well as live chat, you can also drop them an email. I know some people would prefer a phone number so you can physically speak to someone but I can honestly say that I didn’t miss it.
5. What Do Others Think?
I’ve spent a lot of time inside Pixpa testing it to give the most thorough and accurate review possible but it’s based from my point of view and it never hurts to get a second, or even multiple opinions right?
Unfortunately, I found customer reviews to be few and far between and the ones I did find are dating back to 2016. This isn’t a bad thing as in my experience people are usually more vocal when there’ a problem!
I’ve included them anyway and mixed in a couple of professional opinions too to bulk things up a little.
- Trustradius 8.3/10 (based on 3 user reviews)
- Merchant Maverick 4.0 out of 5.0 (professional reviewer)
- Superb Website Builders 4.0 out of 5.0 (professional reviewer)
What they liked; Powerful, intuitive website editor, visually appealing designs, blogging platform and excellent gallery layouts.
What they didn’t like; Lack of third-party integrations, steep learning curve, no mobile app or image editor, and no undo buttons in the main editor.
Note: Reviews correct as of 06/05/2018.
6. Pricing – Which Plan is Right For You?
The first thing to note is there isn’t a free plan (if this is important to you, take a look at Wix).
Instead, you’ll get a 15-day free trial with a 30-day money back guarantee on all plans which should help put your mind at rest.
Once you’re trial’s up, you’ll need to upgrade to one of the 4 premium plans if you wish to continue with your site.
The plans range from $5-$20/month when paying for a year upfront. There are also monthly plans available which we’ll take a look at below;
Plan 1) Lite – Best for personal use as you can only upload up to 200 images.
Highlights: Connect your own domain name (web address), unlimited pages, sell up to 3 products.
- $5/month (annual plan, billed upfront)
- $6/month (month-to-month)
Plan 2) Starter – Best for professionals who want to sell 0 – 10 products.
Highlights – Unlimited uploads for images and video, client proofing with 3gb storage.
- $8/month (annual plan, billed upfront.
- $10/month (month-to-month)
Plan 3) Best if you’re just getting started selling online.
Highlights: sell up to 50 products, inventory tracking & management, 10gb cloud storage for client proofing.
- $15/month (annual plan, billed upfront)
- $18/month (month-to-month)
Plan 4) Best for established businesses.
Highlights: Sell up to 500 products, advanced eCommerce tools, 25gb storage for clients.
- $20/month (annual plan, billed upfront)
- $25/month (month-to-month)
Additional pricing considerations:
Domain name: Pixpa provides you with what’s known as a sub-domain which will look something like yourwebsite.pixpa.com.
If you already have your own then you can connect it to your website. If you wish to purchase one without the Pixpa branding to give your site a more professional look, you’ll need to do so through a third-party registrar. It’ll cost somewhere between a $7 – $20 per year depending on what you choose.
Note: SmugMug offers a free custom domain for the first year with any annual plan.
Custom email address: You’ll be able to purchase an email address to match your domain name (email@example.com) through your domain registrar or a service such as Google’s G Suite which will run you around $5/month.
Students: Pixpa offers a free website for students. Can’t get much cheaper than that!
7. Final Verdict – Should You Use Pixpa?
Once I got over my initial frustrations of how certain things worked, I really enjoyed creating my test site and was pleased with the results.
If you can look past the lack of a photo editor and are prepared to fulfill all of your own orders if you intend to sell prints and products through your site, then Pixpa is a solid contender for your creative portfolio (if not there are other options which can fill those gaps).