Pixpa is a New Delhi, India based website builder for creative professionals. It allows photographers, artists, writers, designers, etc. to manage all their work by allowing a one-stop place for creating portfolio website, managing galleries, client proofing and e-commerce support to sell digital and physical products as well as services.
The characteristics of this or any portfolio website maker are its easy to use interface and a built-in presets of various website sections like the home page, image galleries, blogs, and design elements like font types and color, etc.
A few of the other prevalent portfolio builders are Wix, Weebly, Square Space, SmugMug, etc. Let us see how well does Pixpa fare with its peers.
For a quick reference, given below are the Pros and Cons of the portfolio site maker.
- Good quality templates and themes with built-in demo content that is customizable.
- Easy and multiple access routes to edit your website: You can browse through options in the studio’s side panel or directly go to an appropriate widget on the studio’s home page or your dashboard.
- Inclusion of external script: The user can gain access to the CSS code of particular galleries and modify it to suit his/her needs or to authenticate any integration to his/her site.
- Real-time preview and publishing: If you subscribe to a plan that includes web-hosting, you can easily view the changes you make to your website, apply them and they’ll be published in real-time.
- Password protection: You can password-protect your website in case of maintenance or other instances and put passwords on client galleries for added security.
- Unlimited bandwidth: Pixpa provides users with unlimited bandwidth through its cloud service partners for regular usage. Although, it strictly mentions that the cloud-based service is not meant for file sharing.
- E-commerce and store feature comparable to full-fledged e-commerce tools.
- Large no. of integrations: You can find an integration for anything from web analytics to payment gateways and social media to e-commerce, etc. A few notable integrations are PayPal, Google Translate, Mail Chimp, YouTube, Instagram, Google Webmaster Tools, Disqus, Shopify and more.
- Fifty percent discount offered to teachers and students indulged in courses like photography, graphic designing, fashion designing or indoor and outdoor décor, etc.
- Limited themes: Pixpa offers a total of 38 themes to choose from for your portfolio sites at present. They can add to this list, including some more themes for personal or business websites.
- No lifetime free plan.
- No option to monetize the website through advertisements.
- Limited storage space: The free trial allows to upload only up to 200 images or up to 1 GB cloud space with a basic plan. You have to pay more for more cloud space.
Introduction to Pixpa
There is not much information about Pixpa available online or otherwise. What we managed to find out that is was started in 2012 by Gurpreet Singh, and operated from New Delhi. Now it has expanded and has an office in Newark, Delaware, USA.
The company has a small number of employees and no precise data about the no. of active users is available. It seems to be gaining quite a popularity among photographers, bloggers and other creative artists around the world, and rightfully so as it is meant for creatives to assemble and streamline their showcase, client proofing, sale, and delivery fulfillment activities.
From a business standpoint, Pixpa provides different plans for website building, hosting and its management at quite a reasonable annual rate. It also offers exclusive E-Commerce, and Client Gallery plans as add-ons and 30-day money back guarantee.
Additionally, it offers a somewhat limited free trial for 15 days to make and preview your website. But you need to upgrade to a paid plan to host your site to the internet.
As far as the free trial goes, you can create and view your website. There is a view link provided to preview the site at appropriate locations within the Pixpa studio, including the top of side panel menu.
To avail Pixpa’s portfolio building service, firstly create an account (preferably a free trial) and log in to your account.
Upon login, the user is directed to select the theme from 38 available themes. Some examples of the various themes are Polaris, Metro, Vega, Clarity, Bloom, etc. These are not just themes defining the design elements for various sections of the website but also come with demo contents, thus can be used as templates.
You can directly choose a theme, view a demo of these themes before selecting or decide to skip selection of themes altogether.
We will choose to use one of the templates to review the product, because then what’s the use of using a portfolio website builder. Alternatively, the user can start without a theme and add sections/pages one by one and edit them using the page editor. This process is described briefly later in this review.
Once you have chosen the theme for your portfolio website, you will be directed to your dashboard window. This is your portal to access various sections which allow you to set and edit properties for different elements of your portfolio site.
You can access different areas or functionalities of your site to edit and add elements in the following two ways:
- From the side panel/Main Menu similar to any traditional website builder.
- The other way is to directly add and edit various sections and pages from the many widgets on the studio home page. It also has easy access to some sub-categories of the main options which can directly be accessed without much hassle.
Also provided on the home page is a small video to help you get started. Plus, the customer support is excellent with live chat powered by beamer and email options.
Let’s look at various menus of the side panel one by one in brief to get an idea about the features that the website builder has and the extent of access it provides to the user to customize the various sections.
Website Menu- Adding content to the website
The main menu on any website is essentially a menu of links to various pages and sections of the website like Home, Contact, About Us, blogs, newsletters, e-commerce section, etc. It is sometimes referred to as the navigation menu.
The Website Menu option in the Pixpa studio’s side panel lets you add and edit your website’s main menu items, which are virtually various sections/pages of your website using this menu.
To change the order of items in the menu, drag one menu item over and above or below any other item in the ordered list shown in the menu.
The very first option in the website menu is to add items to the navigation menu. You can do so by clicking the + icon. It opens up a pop-up window with a list of items to add to the menu
including gallery, page, blog, form, cover page, link, store and client spotlight among others.
Also available are three options to organize your menu either as folders or drop-downs and a separators option to add a separator to the menu’s list. Later you can change the order and properties of the separator like any other item in the menu.
After having added the required section, now the user must add content and define other properties for each item/page.
To change the settings and properties of any of the page or section of your site associated with the namesake item in the menu, select it or click the three dots on the top-right corner that appear as you hover over the item. Next, select the appropriate option from the drop-down, it will change the studio editor window options accordingly, and you will need to choose from or set the various properties for each item.
The editor window options for each item will differ according to the type of item. For example, Homepage item will have options to manage homepage galleries and images and banner settings, etc. while store menu item will have options to create product inventory, set pricelists, tax rates, and payment, etc.
A few standard setting options under each item will be to enter the webpage metadata for SEO and browser description of that particular page, and options like hiding and delete to hide or permanently delete that item from the menu.
You can add, edit the settings, and manage various pages and their content like banners, headers-footers, and other item-specific properties in case of items like galleries or store. There are dedicated menu options to set site-wide settings and properties for sections like galleries and store
We will have a look at a few of these dedicated menus in the following sections.
Client galleries and E-commerce
Client galleries are an indispensable section for creative portfolio sites to showcase your work to prospective clients. You may also need to enable your galleries with e-commerce functionality if you plan to sell your designs or products.
Pixpa has an excellent client gallery feature with suitable layout and slideshow options. You can also enable your galleries with e-commerce features and even add a Store to your site to sell physical products and merchandise, etc. The gallery and e-commerce features can be accessed from the namesake menus in the side panel.
The first two options in the client galleries menu are Albums and Client Spotlight Page. These two options let you edit settings and properties for already saved albums or create new ones. Settings include title and SEO data for each gallery.
Some of the properties you can set are gallery layout, slideshow effects, grid-cutter size, etc.
Using this section, you can create public and private galleries for clients and manage them. You may invite clients to review these galleries via emailing or texting links etc. and choose for such albums to be public or private.
The dashboard option under the sell images section of this menu provides links to your sales data like revenue, orders and customer data such as abandoned carts.
Other options in this sub-section are pricing sheets, preferences, discount coupons, shipping, tax rates, payment methods, and print labs. These options are for the user to define the required set of data elements required for e-commerce and delivery fulfillment.
Other important sections under this category are Discount Coupons, Payment methods, and Print labs. These options let you add namesake elements and their attributes to the set of data needed for the functioning of e-commerce in client galleries and delivery fulfillment (check out, payments and delivery).
Pixpa also allows users to add a store to their website for selling physical products, merchandise or even digital downloads and services. These features can be activated and manipulated from the E-Commerce menu tab in the side panel.
The E-Commerce menu contains two panes of options for Store and E-commerce galleries respectively. You can only enable one of the two during the free trial. In case you need the other in the future, you can upgrade the plan or get it as an add-on plan for your existing website.
All the options here are the same as the ones in Sell sub-section of client galleries tab as you can by default during trial only have one – either a store or e-commerce enabled gallery.
All the options here too have similar attributes to be defined and set as we did in client galleries’ Sell images section with little changes.
You can choose to disable Store from your site by clicking the Disable Store option at the bottom of Store menu. It will disable the store and allow to enable and set up e-commerce for your galleries under the enabled E-Commerce Galleries section. It has options identical to Stores menu.
Mobile Gallery Apps
Mobile Gallery apps option on the main side panel lets you create gallery apps for clients to review each photo and provide remarks and set favorites.
To create a mobile gallery app, click the + Create Mobile App button and name the app. Next, add media/images to the app; you can also add a description, sort these images or add new ones and delete others, enable and disable images, etc. from the editing window.
Other options in studio menu for Mobile Gallery Apps are settings and share.
Using the settings option in the menu, you can set SEO data, gallery description, contact form label and message for the app, etc. From the right pane, you can upload the App icon image, cover Image and set gallery style for the App.
You can set enabling and expiry date for the App, basically scheduling client proofing. This way the client can review the photos in the gallery, send the App link to relatives and friends for review and provide follow up, thus streamlining the client proofing process.
Use the share button on the menu to share the mobile gallery app with clients. You get an option to either share the app by email or SMS. Choose the appropriate option and fill in the details like email ID or mobile no. of the client, change mail/message body text if you want and finally click on the send invite button.
You can choose to send a copy to yourself by clicking the namesake radio button.
Mobile gallery apps streamline the entire client proofing procedure as clients can easily view the images or designs in the gallery app and set favorites or provide feedback using forms and even share the gallery app with family and friends for approval.
After having added the contents to your website in the form of various sections such as home page, various client galleries, blog, store, etc., it is essential to organize these and give your website a structure by defining various design elements both across and for each section of the site.
The next menu on the main side panel is the Design menu. You can set the various design features for various sections of your site like logo, title, headers, footers, site colors and text, etc. You may set the design properties for galleries and choose to overwrite the settings already configured for individual galleries.
You can also create your CSS code to override the existing CSS code for your site if you are an advanced user with HTML, CSS and site coding knowledge. To change CSS code for your website, switch-on the CSS Override option and write your code in the built-in text editor window which appears upon switching-on the option.
You can preview your website in desktop, tablet and mobile mode after applying design settings.
All the above options are available in the Style Editor section of Design main menu. Another section in this menu is the Themes section. It has the option to change the present theme of your website. To change the theme, click the change button which appears as you hover over your present theme icon in the menu.
Next, view various other themes and choose the one to replace the existing one in the similar way you first set the theme. When you finally click use this theme button, a pop-up asks if you want only to change the theme or also copy the demo content.
Choose Yes, copy demo content to completely reset your site and build it again or select No, just switch theme just to change the theme and keeping the content the same.
In case you change your mind and wish to switch to the previous theme, click the previously used styles option under the style editor section. It shows a total of three themes, including the current theme and the last two themes. You can activate any of the previous two, thus effectively de-activating the current theme.
Overall, the design features of the Pixpa- portfolio builder are up to the mark considering it is a profile site builder. It does not allow the level of customization as compared to a full-fledged website builder, and neither is expected to because it can lead to peculiar-looking web pages without consistency among them.
Page Editor-Adding contents page by page
Instead of using in-built themes and designs, an alternate way to create your portfolio site is to add sections page by page and defining content and properties for each item on each page.
In case you decide to do things the other way, go to the website menu option in the side panel and click the + icon and choose page option and name it accordingly and save it. Doing so will direct you to the page editor window where you get the options to add different sections to your page and define settings and properties for each item as well as the whole page.
You can use the options in the page editor’s side panel to add items, change settings and save changes to the page.
The very first option is a + icon to add items/blocks to the page. Clicking on the + icon will present you with a slide-out window of template options. Here you get options to add blocks like the basic (templates), slider, header, photos (galleries), profile, article and more.
More tab presents a host of template options like video, covers, features, pricing, achievements, products, services, coming soon and many more. You can use these templates and add content to them.
Once you choose to add a section to the page, say a header. The template you select will be shown in the page editor window with its demo content and properties. You can change its settings by clicking on the block settings icon which appears on the top right corner when you hover over that block.
Block settings’ options will change depending on the type of block; it will have different options for headers, galleries or sliders, etc. You can adjust the height for any block by choosing what percentage of height of the total page does it cover. Other general settings are padding and margins.
To change the block content, click on the pencil icon for content settings right at the bottom of the block seen as you move the cursor to that block. It has options akin to content/text size, position, text style and alignment, background color, gradient, etc.
To add a background image to a section or gallery click the add image icon right next to content settings pencil icon and upload the image.
Once the image is uploaded, you can adjust its properties through added sections to the content settings options. Note that the settings options will change depending on the type of block.
After having added sections and banner to the page, you can select page settings by clicking the settings icon in the page editor side-panel. It has familiar options of applying page metadata and SEO settings. You can also upload a featured image for the page and a few other options. Don’t forget to change the save your settings.
Other options on the side panel are HTML and view. Choose HTML icon to get access to and edit the page’s HTML code and use the view option to get a preview of your webpage.
Finally, don’t forget to save changes before you leave the page editor. Use the help icon for any queries as usual.
Repeat the whole process for each webpage. Although a somewhat tedious task, some creatives may prefer this approach.
Once the website content is ready, it is time to apply site-wide settings and marketing. These subjects are tackled in the following sections.
Marketing your content is essential for creatives to get the attention of prospective clients and sell your creations for a little profit. To this cause, Pixpa provides some robust marketing features. Pixpa’s marketing menu has options like website SEO, social media, newsletter subscription, announcement, and mobile information bars.
This section helps to set SEO data for your entire site at once. The SEO metadata, you define here is what the browsers will use to refer to your website. So this is a crucial part and must be handled with utmost caution and research.
Website SEO metadata is vital to rank higher in web search results and to direct traffic to your site. One must choose the website title, description, and keywords wisely, in accord with the content and the audience or user demographic. User may specify SEO information for each content item individually that will over-ride the SEO information that he/she determines in the marketing section.
Pixpa only provides basic SEO functionality of setting your metadata but you can always use one of its many integrations for website analytics and visitor/user statistics to aid in effectively choosing the keywords or description and titles you use for your website and its various sections.
You can choose from a range of website stats and analytics tools that Pixpa integrates with, like Statcounter, Google Webmaster, Google Analytics, GetSiteControl, etc., to improve your SEO game.
Other than SEO, there is the social media option in marketing menu. It has options to link your social media accounts with your website, upload a featured image for your social media display and options to add and place share widget and social media icons as headers and footers. There is no need to emphasize on the significance of social media as a modern marketing tool.
Announcement bar option aids you to add an announcement bar to the top of your desktop and mobile site, visible on each webpage of the website. It has options to set the text, its style and linking options to link the bar or text to the appropriate section within or outside your site.
You can enable the close button for the announcement bar and reset visibility (time) for the announcement bar to re-appear in case it’s closed. By default, it is set to 7 days if you choose to enable the close button.
Mobile information bar option lets you set up to four notifications or links at the bottom of your mobile site. You may add icon links to YouTube, Wikipedia, Playstore, Appstore, Spotify or any of the many options from the icons dropdown section. You may also add links like your contacts, newsletter or other webpages.
Mobile information bar links help the user know your products or connect with you and your work.
Going Live, Website Settings, and Help Center
After having set up your website, you can choose to go live by opting for a web hosting plan offered by Pixpa. If you opt for a higher subscription plan, Pixpa offers free registration domain, courtesy of Hover domains, for one year. You can also choose to link the website to a domain you already own.
Even after your site is up and running, you can always make changes to the settings for your website using the settings menu and get help using the help center menu in the side panel.
The last two menu options on the side panel are that of website settings and Help Center.
The website settings options are sub-divided into settings and content sections. The settings section has options to choose settings for the entire website like enabling third party site analytics, e-commerce settings, connecting domain name, redirecting, adding external scripts to authenticate or enable certain web tools and such.
Some interesting features of the settings section are enabling search indexing by browsers, setting image quality for your site (by default it’s 75%), enabling right click protection for your site, enabling website maintenance mode message and password for users to access the site when in maintenance, and a cookie consent banner for your site.
The content section of the settings menu has options specific to the settings and properties of site-wide elements and file management. A few of the options in this section are system labels/ languages, watermark images, files, calendar events, and deleted items.
Using labels/languages option you can change the text and language used for various labels across your site. For example, you can change the default ‘gallery info’ label to ‘gallery description’ or use ‘Find’ instead of ‘Search’ label for search bar, etc.
Pixpa provides an exhaustive list of labels that you can change under this section. Now that’s the height of customization, at least as far as site labeling is concerned.
The files section allows you to upload the files available to download for your site. The size limit is 20 MB, and it accepts a wide variety of formats. The files that you have requested to download can be accessed from downloads folder available here. They are only available for seven days from the date of download.
Another notable option is to add calendar events – public or private. It adds a calendar menu to your site’s main navigation menu and allows to set calendar events and take bookings. The calendar events section can be beneficial for musicians, dancers and other performers who accept bookings.
You may recover the items that you deleted in last 30 days from the Recover Deleted Items option here. The files become unavailable after a month. The recovered item or section gets recovered with its initial settings and position.
Lastly, on the side panel is the helpdesk option wherein you can get FAQs and access the user knowledgebase or search for the required query.
Security and Customer Support
One of the crucial aspects of web hosting is the bandwidth/speed and security of sensitive or personal user data.
Pixpa claims to provide an unlimited bandwidth (for general use and can’t be used as a file sharing platform) with a worldwide content delivery network (CDN) and a globally distributed DNS.
Neglecting the frequent reloading upon any edition, it provided pretty glitch-free experience both while editing and viewing the site. This estimation of site surfing speed is based considering the inherent speed of our broadband connection.
Pixpa uses the cloud services of AWS, which is Amazon’s cloud service, Rackspace, Linode, and Dyn. All Pixpa Websites are SSL certified, and the user may not apply for a similar certificate himself/herself.
The customer support includes a help center option in the studio panel with answers to FAQs and a search feature for any query. Also available are 24*7 online chat facility and email support.
So, Pixpa is quite reliable in terms of security and support.
Some miscellaneous features
In the review so far we have tried to incorporate all the tools and features that Pixpa has to offer but still were not able to include all the features. Some important miscellaneous features are described in this section.
First of all, we will discuss the Account settings which can be accessed by clicking on the avatar icon at the bottom of the side panel. Here you can access and edit the general account settings, upgrade your subscription plan, and view messages from contact forms, client messages, blog comments, system messages and such.
Another important feature is that you can create and manage multiple websites from a single account. It is advantageous if you intend to create multilingual sites with more or less similar contents. You need to pay some additional charges for a new website, but you get another one-year free hover domain. You can use this to create a geographical domain for the location you want to target.
Another feature is that Pixpa automatically imports all the associated ITPC data for the images when you upload them. It helps to sequentially upload the pictures of appropriate resolution and size based on client machine and browser, resulting in a smooth and fast user access for the website.
You can go through the FAQs section available in the help center, accessible through a chat icon on the website to know about other features we might have missed.
How well does Pixpa fare with other traditional portfolio site makers?
This review has so far talked in some depth about the features and functionality of Pixpa. Now let’s get a glimpse of where does it stand, if at all in the ranks of website or portfolio builders.
We will start with the Themes/Templates as with portfolio builders the users are looking for minimal effort and the website building becomes a cakewalk if one is able to find the right templates. Pixpa offers 38 templates as of now. The templates which come with demo content are more like customizable themes. Some themes may seem too zealous but there is somethong of every taste.
The Pixpa themes are meant for creatives and have good options for photography, blogging, and any kind of design but may not be suitable for personal websites like weddings, events, or small businesses. The Pixpa team can add more themes for athletes, events, and business.
Another parameter to test portfolio or website builders is usability or rather ease of it. Pixpa Studio interface is pretty much self explanatory with an exhaustive help section with FAQs and artcles for any query the user might have.
One issue among a few others is that the page reloads on one too many occasions. For example it reloads everytime you save any (major but not so) changes. Although it won’t reload for trivial changes like font colors changes.
It would be helpful if changes to the site can be made within the Studio window without page reloading everytime. Perhaps they can add a save feature for the entire site whereby the user can save all the changes he made in one go. Meanwhile the temporary changes can be stored in Studio cache memory.
The frequent reloading is an issue with many web and cloud based website and portfolio builders. All of them should find a way to mitigate it for sure.
As far as the client and store fulfilment are considered, I think there is not much to complaint especially considering the fact that its meant for independent artists or small businesses.
Mobile galleries is really a helpful and recent addition to Pixpa. Considering the prevelance (or overprevalence) of mobiles, it helps in really streamlining client proofing with features expiry date for mobile galleries and feedback options. Not many portfolio or website builders provide mobile gallery app facility per se – advantage Pixpa.
Pixpa is already gaining popularity among independent artists, photographers, writers and designers around the world. They seem to be listening to their users and in fact working on the feedback. They have a request a feature form (another point to Pixpa) in account options whereby you can mention your URL and the feature you would like to have. And who knows they may include it in their next update especially if similar requests are made by multiple users.
After much pondering over the features and services of Pixpa, we can conclude that if you are looking for an affordable and reliable portfolio site builder, Pixpa has all the tools to be the forerunner.
There is no harm in trying out Pixpa to build a demo website, and if you like what you see as a preview, you can opt for the paid subscription to make your website live at affordable annual rates.
There are many trusted portfolio builders on the web market, but I would not mind recommending Pixpa studio, especially if you are a creative like a photographer, illustrator, or work with interior and exterior designs, etc. It is custom made for such users, and you can avail all of its customized features like e-commerce enabled galleries, client galleries and mobile galleries app at a much affordable rate.
Happy website building to all of you! And do checkout our reviews for other similar products before you make a decision of what’s best for you.