If you display your own unique images on your WordPress site – photos, graphic design, etc. – you’ve probably dealt with the pain that is image theft.
It could be someone maliciously scraping your site or it could just be an ignorant webmaster who doesn’t know that what they’re doing is wrong.
But no matter what the motivations are, it sucks to get your images stolen.
There are some WordPress plugins that try to fight back. For example, you can find plugins that disable right-click (simple, but doesn’t really deter motivated people or scrapers) or add a watermark (more effective, but you might not want a watermark on your images).
In this SmartFrame review, we’re going to look at a solution that offers a much more comprehensive approach to WordPress image security that can stop both human and bot image theft.
Plus, SmartFrame can also do a lot more than just image security, if you want it to. It can also enhance your images with share buttons and zoom functionality, help you monetize your images with ads or email opt-ins, speed up your image load times, and even change how you handle images on social media or in Google image search.
Overall, it’s a really flexible tool that has a generous free version at WordPress.org. So if you’re sharing any type of unique visual content on your WordPress site, I think this is definitely one you’ll want to check out.
SmartFrame Review: It Does a Lot of Different Things
SmartFrame does a lot of different things, so I’m going to break its features down into different sections.
But first, I want to share that there are two different ways to use this plugin (which I will cover in more detail):
- Plug & play – you can just install the plugin and start using it right away. You do not need to create a SmartFrame account, but you lose out on the more marketing-focused features.
- Create a SmartFrame account – if you opt to create a 100% optional SmartFrame account, you can manage all of your images from a cloud dashboard and access some really neat features, like marketing campaigns that automatically activate on all your images.
I’ll show you how these two approaches break down in the real world later on, but I think it’s important to highlight that you don’t need to create an account to benefit from the security features.
Speaking of features, let’s go through them…
One of the biggest features is image security and theft prevention. SmartFrame does a few things to protect your images:
- Disables right-click on images to deter low-level image theft.
- Hides the image URL in your site’s source code so that bots cannot scrape it and human visitors cannot just take the image URL from your site’s code.
- Optionally, let’s you add a watermark grid to also prevent people from taking screenshots.
Let me show you these in action, because I think it’s easier to see what I’m talking about with a real example.
Let’s say you’re using a generic plugin at WordPress.org to disable right-click on images. This might fool non-technical users, but it’s not going to stop bots or dedicated humans because people can always just pull up your site’s source code and find the image there:
However, when you enable SmartFrame, SmartFrame both disables right-click and hides the image in your site’s source code, which makes it a lot harder for bots and humans to get their hands on the image:
Of course, a dedicated human still could just take a screenshot of your page to get the image that way. But if you’re worried about that, you can enable option #3 which adds the copyright overlay grid to make it impossible to get a clean copy of your image by taking a screenshot:
If you employ all three methods, you’re going to deter pretty much 99.9% of image theft. And even without the watermark, you can still cut out most low-level human and bot theft.
To hide your image’s URL in the source code, SmartFrame, in part, serves your images from its own global CDN.
Additionally, SmartFrame can automatically compress your images and dynamically serve the optimal image size based on a user’s device.
For example, a user with a low-resolution screen will see a lower-resolution image while a visitor with a higher-resolution screen will see a higher-res image. That way, you can balance page load times and user experience on a per-visitor basis.
New Front-End Features for Users
SmartFrame can also add new front-end features to enhance your visitors’ experience at your site.
For example, you can add a “zoom” feature that lets visitors zoom in multiple levels (up to 400%) on your images:
You can also add:
- A full-screen image lightbox
- Social share buttons
- Customizable on-image captions
- Image galleries
New Marketing, Analytics, and Image Control Features
Through the cloud dashboard, you also get access to new marketing and monetization features that display on the front-end. For example, you can add the following elements to your images from the cloud SmartFrame dashboard:
- CTA buttons (like to purchase the image)
- Promo notices
- Email opt-in forms
- Banner ads
- Social follow buttons
You can also control how your images appear on different sites. For example, you can allow Google to index your images for image search, but automatically add a watermark to those images.
And finally, you get image engagement analytics for all the images in your SmartFrame account.
How SmartFrame Works: Using the Plugin on Your Site
I already showed you some of the functionality above, but let’s take a deeper look at what it’s like to actually use the SmartFrame plugin.
Just WordPress Plugin – No Account
Let’s start with what it’s like to just use the free plugin at WordPress.org without creating an account.
As soon as you activate the plugin and agree to the terms of service, it automatically starts working.
There are only a few settings in the WordPress dashboard.
First, you can choose between three default templates:
- Blank – doesn’t add any front-end features. Just disables right-click and hides your image in the source code.
- Presentation – adds image zoom, full-screen lightbox, and social share buttons (also includes the basic security features).
- Security – adds the copyright watermark grid, as you saw above.
Beyond choosing a template, you can also manually exclude certain images from being uploaded to SmartFrame by entering one or more CSS classes to exclude:
You can do everything here without creating a SmartFrame account. But I would recommend creating an account because it gives you access to some really neat features…
SmartFrame Cloud Dashboard Features
If you create a SmartFrame account and sync it with your WordPress site, you’ll be able to manage a wealth of new features from the SmartFrame cloud dashboard.
You get 6 tabs at the top of the dashboard – let’s go through them.
First, the Images tab lets you manage every image that you’ve uploaded to SmartFrame. You can also add basic details, like a caption and copyright information (which displays on the image on your WordPress site):
The Galleries tab lets you manage image galleries, which you can create from any of your SmartFrame images.
To embed a gallery, you’ll need to use the embed code from the SmartFrame interface – you cannot do it directly through your WordPress dashboard:
The Insights tab contains engagement analytics for all of your images. You can see…
- CTA button clicks
- Zoom usage
- Full-screen usage
- Image theft attempts
It’s pretty useful for understanding which of your images are the most engaging.
Without creating an account, you get access to three themes in the core plugin (you saw them above – Blank, Presentation, and Security).
When you create an account, though, you can also create your own unique themes, which let you control exactly which features to use on your images.
For example, you can choose the maximum zoom level, set where to display captions and buttons, add CTA buttons, control social share buttons, and lots more:
The Control tab houses some really neat features that let you control how your images function in different situations:
For example, you can let search engines index your images but automatically add an image or text watermark:
Or, you can also do the same thing for different social networks, like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
I love this feature for the level of control it gives you.
Finally, the Campaigns tab houses another unique feature:
The ability to run promotional or monetization campaigns on your images.
You can create five different types of campaigns:
- Banner Ad – monetize your images with banners.
- Promo Prompt – promote any page.
- Sponsor Logo – add your own logo.
- Newsletter Subscription – add an email opt-in form.
- Social Media – add social follow buttons.
For example, if you add a promo prompt like this:
Then your visitors will see a dismissable promo box on your images:
You can even target your campaigns to specific regions and devices.
Overall, I can see some really creative uses for this and it’s definitely a unique feature.
SmartFrame has both a lengthy feature list and a feature list with some truly unique features.
So how much is all of that going to cost you?
Well, you can access everything that I showed you above with a free SmartFrame account and the free plugin at WordPress.org.
Yes – all those features are 100% free! There are only two caveats to that:
- You can only upload up to 2GB of images. Not bandwidth – storage.
- The free version includes a small SmartFrame watermark in the corner on all of your images.
If you want more storage and/or to remove the SmartFrame branding, paid plans start at $15 per month:
Final Thoughts on SmartFrame
Overall, SmartFrame is a really neat tool with a ton to offer.
By themselves, the security features are already valuable, especially for photographers or graphic artists. But I think the front-end features and marketing opportunities are also really neat.
For example, being able to incorporate email opt-ins into your images is a unique way to grow your list, and it’s awesome to be able to include other CTAs on your images.
I also like how you’re able to process your images differently depending on where they’re being shared. For example, being able to automatically add a watermark but only when images are shared on Facebook or Twitter is great.
There are a couple of compatibility issues to consider. First, at the time that I’m writing this, SmartFrame only works with JPEG images in your post or page content. While the team is working on expanding this to WordPress featured images, galleries, etc. it’s not here at this moment.
Additionally, SmartFrame is not compatible with Divi Builder, Beaver Builder, and some other popular plugins/page builders (though it does work with Elementor). That doesn’t mean you can’t use both – it just means you won’t be able to benefit from SmartFrame’s features in your Divi or Beaver Builder content.
But overall? I think this is a really cool plugin.
Whether you just use it for the image theft protection or you want to take advantage of all those other features, it’s a unique solution with a bunch of features that I’ve never seen in other WordPress plugins.