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Too Many Clients Complain That Sytist Is Unintuitive Or Cumbersome

 
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William Petruzzo
35 posts
Thu Mar 07, 19
1:01 PM
I'm having an ongoing problem with Sytist that I don't know how to resolve. The problem is that my clients all seem to be somewhere between ambivalent and unhappy with this software---which really just means they're unhappy with *me*.

A regular point of contention is the product groupings. It's not obvious enough that people need to toggle through different categories of products. And, virtually everyone needs an explanation on how to use collections. For example, if someone is looking at a photo, there's a collection listed that they can add to their cart, but then when they do, that photo they were looking at is not automatically populated with that photo. They have to click again to add the photo. And there's no way to force an explanation popup or something to what they're seeing, they just have to divine how it works.

Another regular point of contention are digital downloads. Instead of completing an order and seeing a big download button to download all the files they just bought, they have to go check their email or navigate to the user account and then they have to download each image one by one. Easily 90% of clients get confused and email me about it.

Another regular point of contention are the user accounts. They have to make them themselves. They land on a page --> Enter the code for the gallery --> then they have to log in, but since they don't have accounts yet, even though I explain it in the email, they still have to surmise that they need to create an account. That might not be so bad if there was a way to display a 'create an account' screen instead of the log in screen by default, but there is not, so they get confused and frustrated and email me for help.

These are a few of the major problems right now. And some of them might have solutions, but the backend is also unintuitive and it's hard to test out the really nuanced things that the clients will see from perspective. So, now while I've been using Sytist/PhotoCart for about a decade, I'm at a point where I'm stuck having to consider alternative options, of which there are few. Meanwhile, Sytist is pretty close to be a good functioning piece of software, it just really needs tools to smooth over unintuitive bumps (e.g., event-based popups; "We see you've added a collection to your cart: Here's how collections work"), and flexibility in the way things are displayed.

I don't know what I'm looking for here, I guess solutions. But, maybe some insight into some usability features that might be forthcoming that would smooth over some of these issues. Can someone speak something to this stuff?

*Title edited to be more reasonable; feeling frustrated, sorry folks.
Edited Thu Mar 07, 19 11:59 PM by William Petruzzo
Paul White
132 posts
Thu Mar 07, 19
1:12 PM
William, You have put into words many of the things I have been thinking for some time. I also have been with Photocart/Sytist since the first version and while Sytist is the best I have found so far, I am also looking around to see if something better might be out there.
 
 
 
 
 
Paul White
William Petruzzo
35 posts
Thu Mar 07, 19
1:17 PM
Paul, if you come across something, I'd love to hear about it. Of course, I'd strongly prefer the software just get those improvements it needs to be a little more idiot-proof (on the front and backends), or at least some clever Sytsits to come along and explain how to set things up so that these problems go away.
Vance Birno
33 posts
Thu Mar 07, 19
6:18 PM
As far as your download contention goes, your clients do not have to go check their email they may just click on thee "My account" tab they are all listed out and able to download one at a time if they wish. And it remains in the account. Instant downloads are also available if you offer credits, at which point they can add to cart or directly download. This by far is the best system i have come to use, go try smugmug for free, but once you do sign up you get Mugged. 30 days waiting period to get your money, plus fees and the yearly fee for hosting. Not all my customers are tech savvy so i make little help videos, they love it. People that would not normally place orders online are now placing orders online. It's easy to explain how to use your site, collections in any online gallery are complicated to use and I do not find much value in them, but that's just me. Here is one of my facebook help videos for ordering a calendar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7S5mWK6lC8 I have found it is how i have my gallery set up for ease of use. If a person is just ordering a couple of prints it's pretty straight forward. If you are using collections it can get more complicated for your customer depending how you set the collection up. Since i have made little help videos my sales have risen and i have less customer interaction on pre order questions. Big advantage to having them make an account is you can login to their account and assist them and or fix the order. Just like any technology minor improvements on certain things would be nice but sometimes not possible. As it goes, you can not make everyone happy all the time. I have been fortunate enough to have been in the business for over 35 years and i have seen all types of customers, the ones that are complaining are more likely the type that thinks everything should be done for them and not have to put any thought into it. Good luck with your site in any direction you decide to go and good luck with those types of customers.
Geoffrey Shearer
4 posts
Thu Mar 07, 19
11:22 PM
I usually don't reply to this, but a couple of quick thoughts as a longtime user. William, I understand your thoughts and some of your suggestions are good and I agree with some things you say. But I also want to say that we are lucky to have a product like Sytist. Ordering collections (we call them packages at my studio) can be difficult in the best of circumstances. I admit I have not looked around much in the last year or two, but last time I did look for alternatives, I sure didn't find anything better.

To address a couple of concerns - If you have a collection with only one pose, Sytist will automatically add the pose you are viewing and populate the package in the cart. If you have a multi-pose package Sytist pops up an explanation dialog about adding the poses to the package. That dialog was added in a recent upgrade, I think.

I agree that the user account password and the gallery access code or password confuses people. Because I am a studio photographer, I interact with the customers prior to taking the pictures. One thing I have tried to do and I may do more often in the future is to create a gallery when they are photographed, and also create an account for them at that time based on the email address that they give me. I assign a generic password and then I link the new account I just created to the new gallery. When I post the photos I send them an email to log into their account and change the password. Once they do that they click "my pictures" to view. In this way they avoid having to deal with the gallery access code because I have already linked the photos to the account. I know this does not work in many cases where you have one gallery for many clients, or where you cannot interact with them in advance. I would love to hear how others do things, or see a change in Sytist to make things easier or more intuitive.

I certainly have people who complain about Sytist, but honestly not that many. Every year more of my sales are done online vs. the old way of coming in to the studio and placing an order or calling on the phone. I like the suggestion of the videos to assist with orders - I've thought of that myself but I've never done it. Sounds like a great idea.
William Petruzzo
35 posts
Thu Mar 07, 19
11:58 PM
Thank you all for this feedback. First, I'd just like to say that with some reflection, I exaggerated in my title, and really overstated how often I get complaints. The software does about 95% of what I need it to do, and it does it about 80% as well as I'd like it to. And, I'd say, maybe 1-2 in 20 clients complains along a pretty consistent theme, that still feels like too many because I don't know how many other people are just not saying anything about it. But being realistic, over all it's doing a pretty good job.

Thinking about it, it wouldn't take but an afternoon or two to make some educational gifs, and I'm sure I can figure out how to insert them in relevant places. I think I'm going to work on that this weekend.

@geoffrey -- that process you're using, creating accounts on behalf of your clients, is the one I used back on PhotoCart. I don't recall exactly how it worked, but there was a feature at the time that would allow me to send a link to my client, and when they clicked it, it would take them directly to a window asking them to create a password for the account I'd created for them, and then once they did, they were dropped directly in to see their listing of galleries. It was beautifully intuitive, and no one ever misunderstood how the system worked. With Sytist, you *have* to set a password for the account when you create it, which for some reason I just don't like. Maybe I should just let go of that, but I do think this is a feature that seems simple enough, and would really resolve a lot of the user related problems I have.

Edited Fri Mar 08, 19 12:01 AM by William Petruzzo
Tim - PicturesPro.com
10892 posts
admin
Fri Mar 08, 19
8:01 AM
A regular point of contention is the product groupings. It's not obvious enough that people need to toggle through different categories of products.

I would not know how to make it more obvious. You could in the first product group in the price list, edit it and put into the product group description something like "Hey, more product above. Click the tabs to view".

And, virtually everyone needs an explanation on how to use collections. For example, if someone is looking at a photo, there's a collection listed that they can add to their cart, but then when they do, that photo they were looking at is not automatically populated with that photo.

If a collection only has 1 pose, then it will populate that collection with that photo. If they are selecting more than one pose, then, of course, they have to view the photos then add them to the collections.

They have to click again to add the photo. And there's no way to force an explanation popup or something to what they're seeing, they just have to divine how it works.

There is. See the first attached screenshot of the message that is shown as soon as they add the collection to their cart. You can customize that message in Design -> Page Text. Search the page for _package_added_instructions_.

Another regular point of contention are digital downloads. Instead of completing an order and seeing a big download button to download all the files they just bought, they have to go check their email or navigate to the user account and then they have to download each image one by one. Easily 90% of clients get confused and email me about it.

The second attached screenshot is what the customer sees right after they complete their order with a big download button to download their photos. It can't be more straight forward than that.

Another regular point of contention are the user accounts. They have to make them themselves. They land on a page --> Enter the code for the gallery --> then they have to log in, but since they don't have accounts yet, even though I explain it in the email, they still have to surmise that they need to create an account.

I would not require customers to have to be logged into an account to view photos. It just makes an extra step and people get confused with account passwords and gallery passwords. If you don't require an account, they can just go to your website and use the find my photos option (either a form on the home page or a menu link), enter in their gallery password then view photos. The option to require an account to view photos is in the Section/category settings.

To touch on collections some more, this really depends on the type of photography you are doing, but collections/packages can be complicated and if you have complex packages, you would probably be better off selling those in person. If you have a collection with a lot of different products in it, it can be cumbersome.

Attached Photos

 
 
 
 
 
Tim Grissett, DIA - PicturesPro.com || My Email Address: info@picturespro.com
William Petruzzo
35 posts
Fri Mar 08, 19
12:04 PM
Hi Tim, thanks for replying. That is some helpful info.

"I would not know how to make it more obvious."

I think for me, it would be helpful to not toggle between groups, but instead have them listed one after the other under headings. Most of my product groups aren't very large, just a few things in each one. I'd rather they scroll through than toggle. Everyone tries to scroll, but not everyone tries the toggles. This is something that would also benefit from more straightforward styling settings. I could probably make those toggles more obvious with different styling, but figuring out where to style various elements of Sytist feels complicated, and the CSS is unfamiliar compared to what I'm used to in Wordpress.

The second attached screenshot is what the customer sees right after they complete their order with a big download button to download their photos. It can't be more straight forward than that.

For some reason my clients do not seem to be seeing that button after completing their order. The zip file download also appears to not be working--a client last night said he tried three times to download the zip file and each time it got about 75% done and then stopped doing anything. They eventually had to download the files one by one. It was only 4 files so it wasn't a huge deal, but the zip download was not working for them.

I would not require customers to have to be logged into an account to view photos.

Many of my clients have images that are sensitive in nature to them. Their galleries need to require user accounts so that we can at least track who is viewing them. Additionally, requiring users be logged in is the only way we can automate things like reminders about gallery expirations or abandoned carts. Our client's experiences (up until they hit the shopping cart software) are also highly managed, but the software offers no clean or professional way do the same with their online account. I want to be able to do almost all the work for them--create an account, apply any print credits, assign galleries. All the client would have to do is click a link and set a password and they're done. This isn't an off the wall feature either, some competing software concepts base their whole flow on something similar, and honestly it's *almost* available already in Sytist. All we need is a way to generate a link to set a password, instead of requiring the admin to set the password when the account is created. It doesn't really have to fundamentally change the software either, It's not the only way the software could be used, but it's the only thing missing that is keeping the software from working the way I really want it to (and the way Geoffrey is hacking at it to work also).

I'm going to spend some focused time with Sytist this weekend to try to resolve some of these other issues that you've spoken some wisdom to. This discussion has helped me realize that probably 80% of my difficulty with Sytist are really related to the account creation process, and the password link would pretty much solve that problem entirely by letting me design a flow that eliminates the snags for most of my everyday clients. I hope you'll consider implementing that.

William Petruzzo
35 posts
Fri Mar 08, 19
12:06 PM
ALSO--Are there any Sytist gurus around here available for hire? I would likely pay handsomely for someone to help me sort out these issues.
Shawn Mertz
118 posts
Fri Mar 08, 19
12:09 PM
Sytist is the only option I have found for offering multiple image packages. They are difficult to build under any circumstance, even in person sales. To take something that would have been spread out on a table in the past, and squeeze it to the size of a phone, is hard. There are smoother work, prettier alternatives to Sytist but they only offer a few simple products. This is by far the best online ordering system I've seen. The only way to beat it is sales meeting.
Trailboy
88 posts
Fri Mar 08, 19
3:57 PM
Far be it for me to defend Tim and his product, he can do that himself, but I find the sytist system by far the best online ordering system available on the market bar none.

I have to say that I don't recognise the points made by the OP.

Print packs are complicated, but the Sytist system is the most intuitive that I have come across, and believe me, my typical school photography customers are not tech savvy in any way. Yet 90% of my customers choose print packs and I get very few support calls. Sytist spoon feeds and hand holds them as best it can, and while it would be preferable perhaps to give them even more direct instruction, what we have is excellent. Purchase pack >> add photo to pack >> left to choose above what's already been chosen.

If you want to see what sh!t looks like, try shootproof 'show discount' package implementation at https://demo.shootproof.com/gallery/school/album/28746/photo/29412434. They even know their pack system is shite, they have agreed with me every year for the last five years when I tell them at the UK photo show. Even a dedicated European School photography system (gotphoto - https://demo.gotphoto.co.uk password demo) is a very poor second to what Tim has managed with pack implementation.

No other system is anywhere near as affordable as Sytist. I don't pay a percentage top slice to anybody, and never will do. My work, my money. All others cut, apart from shootproof I think, or charge monthlies.

And the best of all features is the passcode system EXIF {Title} data search (which I suggested to Tim helped implement several years ago) and which my entire business model is based around and frankly couldn't operate without. Again, I think only shootproof offer exif search, but its a special and you have to ask and pay extra.

Is it above criticism? No.

My main concern with sytist is the fact that my business is so utterly dependant on what appears, outwardly at least, to be a one man band operation and all that that implies. I think Tim tries his very best, but the support is not like the support you would get from a larger operation like Pixieset, Zenfolio et al with multiple employees. I need to know that my business will have a functioning buying cart system now and in the future. Lets hope Tim is as fit as a fiddle.

I'm also still undecided on that latest update to the mobile gallery system with its swipe effect, but that's for another post.
Edited Fri Mar 08, 19 4:01 PM by Trailboy
Scott Dengrove
40 posts
Fri Mar 08, 19
6:12 PM
William, I can certainly see where you're coming from on this. What I find helps me is I have created an infographic which I've made the splash screen of my gallery, which basically has little notes about what each button on the screen does. I've also changed the name of the splash link and added a little help icon so people can click on it and see that splash screen come back up at any time.

I also send detailed instructions on anything I think my customer might find confusing with the initial gallery email. People don't read it most of the time but sometimes they'll refer back to it. The other poster said she does instructional videos I think that could be a good option.

The key it seems to mitigating some of these issues is good communication with your customers prior to them going into the gallery and setting up their expectations.

Tim, as a suggestion the one thing I've seen on another site, Pixieset is when you first load a gallery, any gallery, a small slide show of 4 slides come up that has little infographics explaining how to access and use the most common functions. Granted with Sytists excellent customization options I don't think a standard instructional set of slides would work...but perhaps if we had an option to turn on an "instructional slideshow" every time a gallery loads, we could create our own slides for our own sites and just load them in. Just a thought.

Thanks!
Tim - PicturesPro.com
10892 posts
admin
Sat Mar 09, 19
6:25 AM
I think for me, it would be helpful to not toggle between groups, but instead have them listed one after the other under headings. Most of my product groups aren't very large, just a few things in each one.

Something coming out in the next update is an option to show them listed like that on mobile instead of the tabs where they can just scroll down. I'll try to also make it an option for all devices (computers).

For some reason my clients do not seem to be seeing that button after completing their order. The zip file download also appears to not be working--a client last night said he tried three times to download the zip file and each time it got about 75% done and then stopped doing anything.

Maybe you have your download products set to "Do not allow download until I upload a replacement file or manually approve it.". In that case, the download option won't show until you have approved them.

See this for download zip file issues;
https://www.picturespro.com/sytist-manual/articles/downloading-photos-in-zip-files/

For the clients logging in to view their photos, one thing you can do if you aren't already is to assign them access to the gallery too which you can do in the People tab of their gallery. That way when they log in they can view the gallery without having to enter the gallery password.
 
 
 
 
 
Tim Grissett, DIA - PicturesPro.com || My Email Address: info@picturespro.com
Bruce Pham
210 posts
Mon Mar 11, 19
11:08 AM
In defense of Tim's hard work I do find that ever since I've moved to Sytist it has made my life much easier. My phone calls from customers asking how to place an order has dropped from 10 a day to 6 a month. And the calls are from extremely computer-illiterate customers. Sytist is the only product that allows multiple images to be added to a package that I know of and with a little bit of savvy it "walks" your customer through the ordering process. I agree that there are areas that need a little reworking but that's because I am only thinking of how I would like it to work specifically for my type of photography. Keep in mind that no matter what software you use, there are those who will never understand how to place an order online. You just need to be able to cut down the number of calls and not worry about the low number of people who are always lost using a computer.

If anyone is interested you can take a look at my set up. It is very intuitive in my opinion.

www.foreverstudio.com

use password: test123

Select the MULTI IMAGE PACKAGES, the system walks my customers through it. And the custom BUILD YOUR OWN does the same.
 
 
 
 
 
Bruce Pham • Forever Studio • School Pictures At Their Best
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