Monday, May 30, 2011

Fotolia.com Review

I was recently asked to review Fotolia.com, a popular stock photo website. I spent a month using the site, and overall, I enjoyed it. Here are my thoughts.



Pricing
You can choose from either a subscription plan, or a credit bundle. The subscription plan (which I had) lets you download a certain number of credits worth of images each day. Since vector files cost more credits, you can't download as many per day as you can with raster.


There's also a bundle plan, where you buy a bunch of credits and then download files at will, rather than being limited to using a certain number of credits per day.


Downloading
Once I had some items in my lightbox, I couldn't figure out how to download them. The website was seemed to be pointing me toward purchasing credits, but I had a 1-month subscrition. It seems that if you have a subsciption plan, it should automatically select the "Subscription License" for each photo, rather than have me choose between 6 or 7 different licenses and sizes. I'd like to have the checkout/licenses selection process a little easier. When I have a bunch of items in my cart, there are literally hundreds of radio buttons on the page (about as many as 8 for each image). It would be a little easier to use if all of these options were in a dropdown menu for each image, rather than having all the radio buttons.


I liked how there was a dropdown menu to enable me to select the same license type for everything in the cart. Ironically, I didn't find this dropdown menu until my subscription had ended. Perhaps that's because the dropdown is very small, gray, and located waaaaayyyyy at the bottom of the page.



I also liked the option to create a zip file for everything in the cart. If you select that option, you'll be emailed an encrypted link to the zip file containing your images.

How I'd Make it Better
I think overall, the interface needs to be simpler. There should be bigger buttons, so it's more obvious for those of us that skim the page rather than reading all the details (think Southwest.com or Crashplan.com).

I wish the thumbnails in the lightbox were a little bigger. On my laptop screen, the little thumbnails were about 1/4" square. They have a nice big pop-up comp image when you mouse over each thumbnail, but if the images in the lightbox are similar colored to one another, it can be a little tough to find the one you're looking for.



I'd make the free photos easier to find. Their marketing material says they offer a lot of free images, but when I typed in "Free" in the keyword search, I got pictures of horses, dandelions, and smiling children. I couldn't actually locate any of the free images.

Summary
The pricing is more affordable than other stock photo websites. The user interface is not as slick as other stock photo websites, but the price is definitely better. What I especially like is that you can choose the number of credits you want to purchase. That way, if you only need 14 credits to buy the image you need, you don't have to purchase 25. That is a great consideration for price-sensitive, budget constrained organizations.

Would you like to try Fotolia? They gave me a coupon code for a 2-week subscription, with 3 image downloads per day. But I only have one code. So if you'd like it, please email me (kelly at documentgeek dot com)  and I will send the code over to the first person who asks for it. Once the code is gone, I'll post a note in the comments indicating that.