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20 Things You Didn't Know about Shutterfly

Having gone public more than a decade ago, Shutterfly has found a niche in the digital photo market, namely to turn digital images into actual photo albums and for use on websites. Not everyone wants everything in digital form (Fujifilm Instax camera is just one example) so Shutterfly will also give you the real deal when it comes to pictures in physical form. Their stock price is hovering around $50 a share, so investors also believe in the future potential of the company. There are many things you need to know about Shutterfly, so here is a list of the 20 we think many people aren’t aware of.

1. Bonus available to sign up with the service.

One of the nice things about Shutterfly is that they value your business from the very beginning. Unlike other websites that have a once in a while offer, new members can always count on getting an added bonus to their first order. It varies, but one example is a set of 50 4 x 6 prints plus a free magnet and address labels, all useful for the photo taker. You can also choose to wait for something more to your liking because there are only 30 days to use the offer before they move on. Of course, you have to pay for the shipping and handling.

2. They are accommodating to Spanish language customers.

Many people don’t know that Spanish is the second most common language used in the world. To accommodate this large global population, Shutterfly has Hispanic inspired designs for their top selling products, including mugs, canvas prints, and those decorative desktop plaques. The website offers full Spanish language character support and has a separate Viva Familia storytelling style that is perfect for photo book creation. Spanish character support is available for Windows, Mac, and mobile users.

3. You can design your own products.

Customization is one of the premier options when it comes to doing anything with digital photos. Shutterfly allows you to completely customize your own photo books and other items, including the ability to upload your own designs. No template punching, fill in the blanks website here. If you’re using Adobe Photoshop there are templates available to use to assist you with the design process. All that’s required is for you to save them in a .JPG format, then upload them as you would any other photo to add to your account’s library of designs.

4. They have a Wedding Shop.

It could be added to this headline “they make sense” because what good is a photo album creator without a special section for wedding planners? Whether creating a personalized photo album to share with friends and family or even to share on social media, Shutterfly has got you covered. They take special care of their newlyweds. Instead of paying hundreds of dollars for a photography studio to assemble the collection, you can have complete control over every detail of that special day.

5. Accounts are shareable.

The terms and conditions of many websites include the restriction of only one person can use the created account, otherwise the account will be closed. Shutterfly has a good reason to allow multiple users on a single account – the individual account can only store a single credit card. This may sound weird in today’s multiple currency climate, but it actually promotes website security. They allow users to create a Share Site where individual users can all log in to the same Share Site account and use the same credit card. This sidesteps the possibility of one user placing an order with their credit card and the next user mistakenly having access to the information. Share Site simply sets up a single credit card where everyone knows who has access to the card.

6. Hotlinking images is not permitted.

Hotlinking is where a user would take the images and photos on one website and link them to their website or social media platform. This had caused Shutterfly considerable problems in the past, so they discontinued the practice. The policy includes any third party platform such as eBay or dating site. There is at least one good reason for this: if your account is compromised in any way you can be assured your privacy is protected.

7. Their copyright policy is a bit on the PC side.

It is understandable that the terms and conditions of a website include restrictions of what it is willing to print, but Shutterfly seems to take things a bit over the top. For example, it prohibits “obscene” photos, which leaves the definition of exactly what obscene is to the company. Generally obscenity is a community defined geographical community, unlike the Internet being a global community. They continue by stating that photos can fall into the category of “otherwise objectionable” which is even more of a fuzzy definition. If you believe your photos are objectionable from any perspective it’s best to move on from Shutterfly.

8. Customer information is encrypted but not the images you upload.

The company website clearly affirms the right to your privacy of information, including billing name, billing address, and the details of your bill. But the images you upload are not covered by this protection, so the question is how exposed are you between the time you send them from your browser to the time they are secured on their website? This seems to place the onus on the sender of the photos having a secure browser and connection, but it is something that seems to have fallen between the cracks. On the other hand, if it is discovered that fraud has been committed in billing your account, it is nice that they have a 100% money back guarantee to protect users.

9. They used to have a Photographer Storefront, but …

One of the things that photo websites can offer is the opportunity for individuals to put their efforts on display for other people to see, use, and perhaps buy. Shutterfly once had their own version of this called the Photographer Storefront, but chose to discontinue the practice. One reason may have been the enormous amounts of bandwidth required for the uploading of photos in addition to the costs of storage. On top of that were the security issues, and it is easy to see why this good idea had to be discontinued.

10. The average person can maximize the tools on Shutterfly.

Many times the average person wants to make some relatively simple modifications to their photos, but do not have the necessary experience or skill. Shutterfly has an Idea Pages section that allow even the most basic skilled user to be creative and put together a photo album that is both unique and professional looking. For those looking for a bit more, there is an Advanced Edit mode where you can take things to a higher level – though not necessarily to the level of Photoshop complexity. Many people love this feature and is one of the reasons for the popularity of Shutterfly.

11. They use a high quality process to make prints of your photos.

Rather than users being left in the darkroom with the exact process the company uses to produce your photos, they make it clear in their Q&A section of just how it’s done. The skinny is they use a fully-automated Silver Halide and Digital Offset printing facility. They also admit that there may be slight differences in color quality based on the type of paper used and the technology itself but maintains these differences are minimal.

12. We generally don’t like to go into technical processes, but this is worth knowing.

Maybe many users need to know what follows here to make sure the images they are uploading will be as accurately reproduced as possible. It is frustrating to expect a high quality result and then find out it is not the process but the submitted image. To this end, we cite the Shutterfly website.

  • RGB pixels are converted to sRGB pixels
  • Automatic color enhancement and adjustment is performed on each photo
  • Those sRGB pixels are what the printers will be using to manage the color reproduction
  • There is a 2.0 Delta_94 difference between matte and glossy paper used for printing
  • The best way to minimize any potential problems is to upload only sRGB photo formats.

13. Shutterfly is more about projects than single photo reproduction.

The company established itself back in 1999 as a business that would cater to the needs of people who wanted keepsakes and photo albums of special events and is family friendly. They have kept to those original standards, but rather than be marketed as a place to get a digital photo converted, a browse through its website clearly shows the focus on organization and creation of multiple images. Everything from its Wedding Shop to the customized creation of photo album design is concerned with a project rather than an individual photo. There are photo printers available for that type of use.

14. They have a “100% Happiness Guarantee”

Consistent with their commitment to quality is their equal commitment to making sure every customer is satisfied with the result. Their mantra is, “We're not happy unless you're happy.” To achieve this end they let you store an unlimited number of photos on their site – for free. Pretty cool, and it is a way to stay in business since 10 years from now those photos may want to be accessed and restored by the user. You can contact their great customer service department who will work with you to resolve any problems, seeking to achieve the highest satisfaction level possible.

15. They never, ever delete photos.

More and more people are storing their data in the cloud, eliminating the need to have external storage devices of their own to store photos and photo albums. Shutterfly has kept up with technology and offers users the opportunity to store their photos without ever having to worry about the business deleting them. This is a very practical benefit for users of Shutterfly since personal external storage devices can get damaged or lost.

16. They have a Shutterfly app for both the iOS and Android mobile devices.

It is likely this will be more useful on a tablet than a smartphone, but whatever mobile device you choose you can upload and assemble photo albums on the go with the Shutterfly mobile app. You can take those travel and vacation photos, organize them, and have them sent to your friends and family before you even return home.

17. If you get an offer from Shutterfly for a free photo album, don’t hesitate.

Earlier it was mentioned about the new member bonuses that are the Shutterfly norm, but they also will from time to time offer members a free photo album. The rule to go by here is to take advantage of it as quickly as possible. The reason is that there are a limited number of these albums, and once they are gone you will have to wait for the next round. For this reason you may want to move Shutterfly emails out of your spam box.

18. Beware of the VividPics tool.

Again, it was mentioned earlier about the VividPics technology that was used to make color corrections and enhancements to the final product. Experienced users suggest that when it comes to face and skin tone quality to be sure to turn this option off. The word is that it will make skin tones redder when compared to nature pictures or other types of non-people photos. VividPics is not an annoying feature, just one that you need to keep an eye on to avoid disappointment with your photo albums.

19. If you are a former Shutterfly user that was not happy with their page number format, read this.

It used to be where Shutterfly would print page numbers on the photo albums automatically. This caused a certain amount of consternation from some users, who moved on to other competitors. This feature has been updated to allow you to work around this problem if you upload your own layouts as full page bleeds. Be sure to use an external program when doing this, and you can make the page numbers disappear.

20. The results Shutterfly sends to you meet the California Proposition 65 requirements.

The company’s headquarters is in Redwood City, California, and with that location it is required to adhere to the California Proposition 65 legal standards. This law has to do with companies who use chemicals in their business processes to ensure those chemicals used are safe for both the customers and the environment. You can be certain that the product you receive meets or exceeds these safety and environmental requirements.

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Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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