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22Slides is a portfolio builder built by a professional photographer for professional photographers. This focus and experience come through in a restrained product that knows its market. They’ve also helped the team prune the product of many needless frills, making 22Slides’ offering a really solid base for any photographer building a simple straightforward portfolio.
22Slides’ Editor is clean, dark, and minimal, setting a tone of refinement and polish. A simple top navigation provides context and does a wonderful job. Unlike a lot of our lesser-rated site builders, each section contains exactly what you think it will. The Editor as a whole is rather straightforward—another benefit that comes from having a well defined target market and niche.
Much like you would expect, the content of your 22Slides site is broken down into pages. Clicking the Create a New Page button on the top right of the Editor opens an informative modal that lists and explains available page types.
Most of the pages here are very photographer-centric—focusing mostly on images. Gallery pages are easy to create and fill with imagery, and there are multiple different layouts for your photos to choose from: simple vertical and horizontal lists, grids, and slideshows are all accounted for.
As far as non-image pages are concerned, there is a really simple Tumblr integration, which should prove useful for lightweight blogging, and a Text page. Editing the Text page is done through a lightweight text editor with just the right amount of options—there’s even a simple button to insert a photo, video, or contact form into your page.
Overall the flow of 22Slides is easy to get the hang of after some use, although there are a few things that just seemed not quite there—specifically at times the design of the Editor can feel almost too minimal. The styling of some elements (like Page Titles) could be improved by making them look more like editable fields, and the use of grey across the design leads to some easily missed options (like Page Visibility). These merely increase the learning curve—once you get the hang of creating pages they’re no longer issues.
One other issue with 22Slides is the scope of their customization. Whereas other sites like Format or Squarespace offer dozens of themes for your portfolio’s layouts, 22Slides presents three simple layout options. These options are pretty standard for most photography portfolios, and the ability to add full-screen images and change the alignment of the navigation helps a little. As mentioned before, you do have the ability to choose among different gallery layouts on those specific pages as well, but overall layout customization in the product feels limited.
22Slides also has a mobile layout that you can enable for your visitors on iPhone and Android devices. It pulls its styling cues from your desktop site customizations which is a nice touch—and eliminates the need to manage them separately—but once again only has one real layout that’s shared amongst all the platform’s sites.
Luckily, aside from the deficiencies in layout options the process of customizing your site is actually quite nice. Hovering a section of your site highlights the proper dropdown where its style can be modified—a really nice touch when there’s so many sidebar sections that is surprisingly absent on a lot of competitors products. Also, the options presented in the sidebar provide a really comprehensive way to change your site’s granular styling, with options ranging from givens like text sizing and font options to more unique inclusions like letter spacing and border radius control.
The Add-Ons section of 22Slides houses most of the additional features included in the product. Here you can link your site to a Tumblr blog, pull in your latest Instagram photos, or connect to galleries of images on Flickr.
Overall these third-party integrations provide value by not making customers replicate content they already have scattered across other applications. Along with these integrations 22Slides also includes expected features like image download blocking, social sharing, and social icons for quickly linking out to your other homes on the internet.
22Slides has a solid base—it’s not too complex nor too simple, features a clean and modern interface, and provides the sort of integrations and features that photographers are looking for. That being said there’s still room for the product to grow and improve, and I’ll be excited to watch that happen. If you’re looking for a no-frills portfolio that’s easy to use this one definitely fits the bill. If you’re looking for more powerful customization and control over your content you’ll want to look to more robust options like Format and Squarespace.