The Next time that there’s a need to send out a greeting card, forget about Hallmark and go to Smilebox! Smilebox is the perfect way to connect with your family and friends by creating personalized, creative electronic greeting cards, slideshows, scrapbooks, photobooks, and postcards. It takes the latest craze of sharing media with others just a bit further, and truly provides a multimedia experience to remember.
To get started
To get started, you’ll want to go to www.smilebox.com and “click to get started.” It is a free service, and by clicking to get started you’ll download the Smilebox Client which is about 250K in size. If by chance you don’t have Flash installed, it will install it for you. That’s because Smilebox relies heavily on Flash, and it’s needed throughout the entire process. Once it’s installed, you’ll be ready to rock n’ roll.
When you first open Smilebox you’ll notice a message asking you to create an account. The important thing here is that you don’t have to create an account, but you’ll need one if you want to email, blog, or print a Smilebox creation. If you decide to create an account, it is free.
Select a template
The great thing about Smilebox is that there’s really no way to mess anything up. It ends up looking like you’ve spent hours working on it, or it was done professionally, but in reality it only takes a minimal amount of time. The reason for this is that you use professionally designed templates and then mix them with your personal media like photos and videos.
When selecting a template, it might take you some time because there are so many to choose from! Not to worry though, I’m sure you’ll be able to find the perfect template for your occasion. You’ll notice the design catalogue on the right side of the screen. There are over 400 different designs available, and they’re organized into categories like seasonal, family, special times, etc. All of the templates are flash-based, hence the reason you need Flash before you get started.
Load Your Media
Smilebox makes it easy to insert all of your personal media. And because it’s not a web-based application, you don’t have to worry about taking the time to upload your media. It’ll all be right there, easily accessible to you from your computer.
You can select which media will be loaded into your template, and from there you just have to drag and drop your pictures. The videos are the same way, so it’s easy to insert, and then easy to share.
There are lots of opportunities to get creative with Smilebox. I decided I’d give it a try and create a Scrapbook. The entire process is broken down into four different steps. First I chose the template that I wanted to use. Next I personalized it by adding pictures, music, videos, and captions. I found the process of inserting pictures so easy, and adding music was just as easy. They give you a few different options to choose from as far as music goes, but you can also turn the music off, or click “more” to view a whole library of music divided into genre. Once I had everything personalized just the way I wanted it, I moved on to the next step which is preview. This is where you see what the final product looks like!
From there you can send it off to your friends and family via email, print it, or you can post it to a blog. Examples of sites that you can upload it to include blogger, eBay, Friendster, LiveJournal, Piczo, TypePad, windows live Spaces, WordPress, Xanga, and Yahoo!360.
If you decide to send it via email, you can import addresses from Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Outlook Express, or Plaxo to make things easier.
Wrapping it up
Overall, I’m a huge fan of Smilebox. I love the simplicity of it, and all of the different ways that I am able to share my personalized creations with others. My only minor complaint is that there’s a lot of horizontal scrolling when you’re searching for a template. I prefer vertical scrolling, but like I said, it’s just a very minor complaint. If that’s the only thing I found to complain about, I’d say it’s pretty good!
Remember, this is for anybody to use. If scrapbooking isn’t your thing, send a birthday greeting card to your friend, or create a slideshow. The options seem endless, the end result is amazing, and to boot, you’ll enjoy doing it.