Shutterfly, a favorite of scrapbookers, has energized photo sharing with their simple yet sophisticated templates for personal websites, photo books and other sharing tools. You'll find inspiration and ideas to make your photos stand out or tell a story. Shutterfly may not offer the highest-quality prints -- though that's no worse than many other competitors -- and is a little pricier for some items, but a plethora of other features make it an attractive option.
Easy as a summer breeze. Shutterfly receives high praise for the organization and simplicity of its website. Shutterfly members can download Shutterfly Studio, software that allows easy organization and editing of photos. Additionally there are other upload options like an iPhoto plug-in, iPhone and iPad apps, and even a CD mail-in service.
Like an insect flitting from flower to flower, you can just as easily go from editing a photo to turning it into a card to ordering a print to sharing it on a personalized website. You can upload photos from your computer, your phone or Picasa and Facebook accounts.
Share photo galleries as freely you like; recipients won't need a password to view, order and download the photos you've shared. Shutterfly also hosts personalized websites. Customize and add your own members according to your preferences. Members can upload and download images, order gifts and prints, or post news, stories and updates. This is a great alternative to social media sites if you only want to share photos with a certain group of users -- ideal for weddings, sports teams, travel groups, school projects and extended families.
Shutterfly has video capability as well, though it's not heavily promoted. You can also create slideshow videos with your photos, complete with music and captions.
Room for improvement. Print quality is the one area where Shutterfly could use a bit of a metamorphosis. TopTenReviews.com submitted the same set of digital images to Shutterfly and nine other digital printing services. Shutterfly tied for third place for print quality, but was not far ahead of the other services. Some color prints appeared darker than the original image, with some heavy shadows, though the black-and-white photo was the truest of all images among the digital photo-printing services.
Lively as a butterfly garden. In addition to its own impressive design team, Shutterfly has partnered with innovative and artistic companies like Tiny Prints, Treat and Wedding Paper Divas to offer cards, invitations and announcements for every occasion. You'll find tutorials for improving your photography, digital scrapbooking news and articles on just about anything on their blog, or you can connect with others on any of the community forums and social media platforms.
Shutterfly is a little on the high side in terms of pricing (*Est. 15 cents per 4-by-6 print), but there is a significant savings potential if you are buying prints in bulk or if you choose one of their prepaid plans. Shutterfly's tiered shipping rates are less confusing than those of Snapfish, starting at $1.79 for basic shipping and rising accordingly. Jason Fitzpatrick of Lifehacker.com writes, "Shutterfly doesn't offer rock bottom prices compared to other online outfits -- although for small prints they are certainly reasonable -- but it does shine with the most polished organizing and sharing system."
You can send your prints and projects to CVS, Target or Walgreens for in-store pickup, but before ordering, check availability of the product at the store location you choose.
Discounts galore. You'll find lots of places for tips and tricks, user forums, a great FAQ list and search function. And if you don't find just what you need, Shutterfly's responsive staff are also available via email and phone.
Once you're a member of Shutterfly you'll get no end of discount offers. Unless you need something immediately, if you wait around a week or two, you'll probably get a discount code for exactly the product you want to order.
Shutterfly offers unlimited storage for your photos, and unlike sites like Kodak Gallery, they promise to never delete your photos, regardless of how many or few purchases you make.
Review Credibility: Excellent Shutterfly is rated 9.2 out of 10 and given the 2013 TopTenReviews Silver Award for excellence in digital printing. TopTenReviews.com tested quality by sending the same set of digital images to several different printing services. Shutterfly is equal to Snapfish in terms of features, but lags on print quality (8.8 to Snapfish's 10).
Review: Shutterfly, Editors of TopTenReviews.com, Not dated
2. Good Housekeeping
Review Credibility: Fair Good Housekeeping votes Shutterfly the top website for creating photo books. The service is applauded by their photo editors for its smart layouts and design options.
Review: Best Web Site Photo Books, Editors of Good Housekeeping, 2012
Review Credibility: Fair In this roundup, Shutterfly is named second best. No methodology for their decision is listed, but the author notes that when reviewing photo-printing services, the end product is often very similar, and sometimes it comes down to trying out things like bulk photo uploaders and built-in editing tools to see what you are most comfortable with.
Review: Five Best Photo-Printing Sites, Jason Fitzpatrick, Jan. 17, 2010
Review Credibility: Fair Photographer Josh Austin ranks the top five photo-printing services, based upon his personal experience. Shutterfly finishes in second place, offering "high quality prints, produced way more conveniently and affordably than people could do at home. The price is up there, but very fair."
Review: 5 of the Best Online Photo Printing Services in the World (All Photographers Take Note!), Josh Austin, Not dated
5. Real Simple
Review Credibility: Fair Real Simple editors pick Shutterfly as the easiest photo site to navigate, citing drag-and-drop uploading tools and easy-to-create albums. "All the tools you need to organize, share, and order prints and cards are on one page," they say.
Review: 5 Go-To Photo Sites, Editors of Real Simple, Not dated