Why Smilebox completely rocked my eCard-sending world
By Message Guy
When I took on this Smilebox review, my first impulse was to focus my Smilebox comments on eCards. Why eCards? Because that's what I thought Smilebox was all about.
And I thought that Smilebox was like most of the eCard sites on the web. You know the type: sites that have run-of-the-mill eCards with lousy-quality graphics and birthday messages from the turn of the century — the 19th century.
Smilebox is not one of those sites. It actually changed the way I think about eCards overall and "personalized" eCards in particular — in a good way, a very good way.
I discovered Smilebox is not just an eCard site
Smilebox.com is not just an eCard site — it's also a digital and printable greeting card, invitation, scrapbook, slideshow, collage, photobook and photo album site. To see for yourself, click here to check out Smilebox's free trial right now.
For personalizing and sharing your photos, Smilebox is my top pick . Why? It rates the highest on my personal Message Guy scale.
See my Smilebox comments and ratings for yourself. Here's my Smilebox review...
My overall Smilebox review rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
For the price of one greeting card per month, Smilebox.com gives you the power to easily create an unlimited number of incredible-looking, one-of-a-kind, personalized keepsakes.
My Smilebox ratings (for this Smilebox review):
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ = Poor
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ = Average
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ = Good
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ = Very Good
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = Excellent
The story behind my Smilebox ratings
I love the fact Smilebox has a "FREE" option (and a FREE Trial Offer)
"Free" rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Because Smilebox.com lets you choose from a basic free account, free trial or premium membership, it's not one of those rip-off sites.
Read more ►
When you sign up for a free account, which takes just a few clicks, you can take advantage of Smilebox at no charge. Then, all you need to do is download Smilebox's free program (which is smaller than the size of a photograph file) and you're off.
With a basic free account, you can choose from a limited number of "basic free designs" (which come with ads), personalize the designs into your very own one-of-a-kind creations and share them via Facebook or email (but not at their full size). You can also print out your Smilebox creations at home. Plus, you get access to the Smilebox iPhone app to do everything the desktop version does.
The free version of Smilebox is not bad for a basic free account, plus it gives you a good idea of what Smilebox can do. Personally, I prefer everything you get from the paid membership (Club Smilebox).
When you upgrade to Club Smilebox, you can take full advantage of Smilebox.com. By "full," I mean that you can personalize and share over 1,200 "premium," full-size, ad-free designs, plus you can print your creations at home or at a select store. You can also choose from over 2,000 Smilebox songs, decide to add your own music, burn your designs to DVDs, save as many masterpieces as you want (with unlimited storage). To me, all of this stuff is worth the small monthly fee I have to pay (which is basically the cost of one greeting card per month).
I didn't upgrade right away, though. I took advantage of Smilebox's free trial. For me, it was the best way to really see what Smilebox can do. But that's me. You may want to go straight for the paid membership. If you're like me, though, start with the free trial and go for the paid membership if you think that this site is for you.
Personalization is what a site like Smilebox should do...and does do
"Personalization" rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
When it comes to personalizing greetings, Smilebox.com is unlimited — even if you feel that your imagination, photos, videos and music are not up to the challenge.
Read more ►
This is probably one of the most important facts in this Smilebox review: there's no limit to how many combinations of eCards, greeting cards, invitations, scrapbooks, slideshows, collages, photobooks and photo albums that you can create and personalize with all those never-again-to-be-seen family photos gathering dust on your hard drive, over 1,200 Smilebox premium designs, more than 2,000 songs and your own music repertoire.
And this is in addition to the range of customizable features you can use to personalize your greetings, which make sure you won't run out of ideas.
The best part? Smilebox makes it incredibly easy for you to personalize your designs — even the most reluctant of computer users (are there any left?) will find Smilebox simple. You can even create keepsakes with or without an internet connection.
Another little extra I should mention in this Smilebox review is that, after you download the smilebox.com program, it automatically probes your hard drive and finds your photos for you. This site even presents your pics to you, along with beautiful designs, to get your personalization juices flowing.
And that's not all. When it comes to photo uploads, Smilebox is very fast. When I uploaded my photos, I expected to wait for a long time. That didn't happen. The upload took a split second. Literally.
Plus, if Smilebox was just a site for personalizing eCards, that would be great. But you also get to personalize greeting cards, invitations, scrapbooks, slideshows, collages, photobooks and photo albums. This gives you so many ways to use the photos of friends and family and music downloads wasting away on your hard drive.
This fact alone makes the paid membership for Smilebox.com a steal. If you get anything from this Smilebox review, it should be that it would cost you far more to buy the supplies you need (and it would take you so much longer) to create and personalize incredible-looking eCards, greeting cards, invitations, collages, photo albums, scrapbooks and slideshows if you decided to do what this site does yourself. Don't bother.
Here's a personalized birthday photo collage I did for my daughter's 5th birthday (and this Smilebox review)...in less than three minutes:
This is just a preview of what you can do. You can do so much more. Right below tells you why.
Smilebox has over 1,200 designs, so running out of ideas is not an option
"Design choice" rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
With over 1,200 designs and new ones every week, Smilebox.com gives you every opportunity to do whatever you want, for any occasion.
Read more ►
As I mentioned earlier in this Smilebox review, the basic free account offers a limited number of "basic free designs" to choose from. All these designs come with ads, all can be personalized into one-of-a-kind creations and all can be shared via Facebook or email (but not at their full size).
Upgrading to a paid membership gives you the opportunity to personalize, print and share over 1,200 premium, ad-free, full-size designs.
I'm no Picasso, but I know what I like and I like the quality of Smilebox.com's designs.
For this Smilebox review, it's my Message Guy duty to tell you that I'm not an art expert or a professional graphic designer, so my opinion is quite subjective. All the same, when I look at the animated, online and printable designs on Smilebox.com, I see professional-quality, creative designs that accomplish what they're supposed to do: make the ones you love feel extra-special.
For instance, because I first discovered Smilebox around Valentine's Day, way before I wrote this Smilebox review, I checked out a few "romantic" designs. I had an easy enough time finding a great design and, even more importantly, my wife loved the one I did for her. To me, that's proof these designs are good. I think the quality of the designs on Smilebox.com will "wow" your loved ones too.
But you may not share my "amateur" opinion. If so, you should really try out Smilebox's designs for eCards, greeting cards, invitations, scrapbooks, slideshows and collages. Personally, after I saw the quality of five or six designs, I opted for Smilebox’s Free Trial Offer right away. Then again, I did have to create a Valentine's Day card for my wife at the last minute.
And Smilebox.com makes it simple for you to use their animated, online and printable design tools, so you can easily channel your inner Leonardo Da Vinci and personalize eCards, greeting cards, invitations, scrapbooks, slideshows, collages, photobooks and photo albums with your own photos and music.
Another Smilebox bonus I should mention in this Smilebox review is that it's easy to organize, manage and create new designs — with loads of customizable, themed designs for not only birthdays, but also Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and much more.
With a free account, you can only go so far. With a paid membership, the sky's the limit. ◄ Read less
With 2,000+ songs, it's easy for me to strike the right chord
"Music choice" rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
You can't go wrong with more than 2,000 songs to choose from.
Read more ►
With Smilebox, it's up to you if you want to use your own music repertoire or the site's 2,000+ songs. Either way, the option to add music to eCards, slideshows, collages and more just makes Smilebox.com an even better site to personalize keepsakes for loved ones.
With a Club Smilebox premium membership, selecting a song from Smilebox's music library is as easy as clicking a button. Adding your own music is just as easy: you only need to click a button to start browsing for a song. And before you can hum Do-Re-Mi, your song is uploaded and added to your creation.
Before I signed up for the free trial, I went for the first design I saw on Smilebox.com that was free (a slideshow). Then, I chose a simple, very soothing instrumental from the site's library and a few photos from my site. Here's the result...
Slideshow personalized with Smilebox
If this part of my Smilebox review has encouraged you to personalize a slideshow, eCard, collage or more with music, it's time to take the Smilebox plunge. ◄ Read less
Needless to say (but good to know), I can share my creations instantly
"Sharing level" rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
On Smilebox.com, all the social networks you and I use are at your disposal, so your family and friends can look forward to loads of keepsakes from you.
Read more ►
When I first wanted to share one of my Smilebox.com creations with my wife, I was slightly disappointed to learn that email, Facebook and the web were the only ways to do it. That disappointment lasted only a second.
The reality is that I only use Facebook, blogs, websites and email to share eCards. In this department, I must mention in this Smilebox review, Smilebox.com does the job well. In a few clicks, I was able to share my creation with my wife, using all the bells and whistles you'd expect from a decent sharing platform.
Considering that all the social networks you and I use are at your disposal on Smilebox, your family and friends can look forward to loads of keepsakes from you on the social networks that matter to them.
I get all the support I need...and then some
"Customer support" rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
A great troubleshooter tool and an in-depth knowledge base make Smilebox.com a customer-friendly, supportive site.
Read more ►
On Smilebox.com, you'll find plenty of information on how to fully take advantage of the site, including an in-depth knowledge base and search engine.
For any problems or questions you may have, Smilebox.com also has a great customer support page, with FAQs, useful tips and prompt email support.
How do I know? Before I wrote this Smilebox review, I had a problem with burning one of my creations to a DVD, so I consulted Smilebox's knowledge base and found a solution in less than a minute.
Bang for my buck: For the price of one greeting card per month, Smilebox.com gives me easy-to-use tools, designs and music to create and share countless, one-of-a-kind, personalized keepsakes my loved ones will cherish for life.