One of my new year's resolutions is to do a much better job at keeping you informed with what we're working on here at EM. With that in mind, I am thrilled to announce the upcoming release of, what we call internally, EM 2.0 – the “new and improved” ExposureManager! It will a big upgrade for both you and your customer.
We started working on EM 2.0 nearly a year ago. Based on your feedback, we had a good idea where our weak spots were. One, clearly, was our utilitarian admin interface, and other was the lack of 21st century looking templates for your customers. In other words: design and usability. Over the years we have hired several designers to help with that, but since they weren't able to assist with implementing we would often end up with unusable designs for the web. In this case, I decided to find a design and development firm that could assist. Luckily, we found one just a few miles from us. They were even in the same building where EM had its first office many years ago!
The project description could be summarized as:
completely redesign ExposureManager admin interface
design new storefront template that can be easily customized
design additional website pages so that a photographer can have their entire website with ExposureManager
That sounds pretty straightforward but when you realize how many completely different types of pages ExposureManager has, and different options, it quickly becomes overwhelming. We wanted to make sure we went through every page and made things as easy and intuitive as possible. So let's take a quick look at some of the upcoming changes:
In the admin interface:
A new dashboard: easily see the latest orders, your sales and access recent galleries:
In the storefront:
Super fast, maximized screen size browsing:
An even more streamlined cart with cropping:
Just redoing the design of course wasn't enough. In order to make it much faster to use, we completely redid our server architecture as well. Besides speed, this has some additional benefits like the ability to now provide an optimized experience for touch devices (phones and tables).
In addition to all that, if you are currently a long term subscriber (account older than April of 2011) then you will also get a bunch of new features such as gallery expiration, category management and early bird discounts.
To summarize, here are some of the things you'll see in EM 2.0:
full website capabilities (homepage, plus additional pages)
the first of beautiful storefront templates
easy customization of website / storefront
cropping of photos in cart (optional of course!)
a redesigned admin interface optimized for daily tasks
better work flow for creating and managing galleries and photos
integration with social media services (Facebook, Twitter, G+) for gallery promotion
easy e-mailing of visitors of a gallery / category
optimized shopping experience for iphone / ipad and other touch devices
and much more!
When will this be available? Soon!
Naturally the first question I've received when I told people about this is 'when will this be available?' While I wish I had a hard release date, I don't have it yet. We aim to have a select group of people start beta testing it by February 1st, and make it an optional upgrade soon after. We want to be fully up and running by the time WPPI comes around mid February. And since I postponed our honeymoon until this is done, I have plenty of incentive to get this done!
Will prices go up? No!
I've also been asked if our subscription fees will go up. No, they won't :)
I am happy with my current setup, do I have to switch? No!
We know that you use ExposureManager for you business and that switching to a new system overnight when you are not prepared for it can be an unwelcome surprise. So we'll continue to support 'EM 1.0' for the foreseeable future and allow you switch over when the time is right for you.
Can I use the new storefront template with existing galleries? Yes!
When you upgrade to EM 2.0 you will have the option to use your current template or switch over to the new template. If you use the old templates, you will not be able to create additional pages or have a homepage however.
Can I help beta test? Maybe!
We can definitely use some additional help in testing. So we're looking for a small group of about 5 people to put it through its paces. If you are interested, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ideally we get a diverse group of photographers (wedding, sports, etc.) because everybody uses EM in a different way. For the initial testing you'll get a new account, and for the second part we would convert your existing account over to it.
I hope this post gives you a better idea of what's coming down the pipeline. There's still a lot of work to be done, and we're all working very hard on getting it done. We're very excited about how these changes will help your business, and looking forward to releasing it to everybody soon. In the meantime, a big thank you from all of us for using ExposureManager for your business!
Donovan and the rest of the EM team