The New Flickr: Love it or Leave it?
When I woke up this morning, drearily dragged my fat bottom into the gym. After scanning the lasted posts kept coming up again and again. “Flickr has changed!! OMG 1 TB of storage!” Sadly from my phone couldn’t tell what all the hype was about.
By the time that I got to my office/classroom, people were already foaming at the mouth with comments on their facebook page like “Just liked your face book page to feed back how absolutely awful the new flickr I can not tell you how much I hate it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” from one of the many angry flickr-users. I scratched my head a bit and wondered “is it really THAT bad?”
Recently, a few major sites have been getting face-lifts. Google+ did a major one recently and now Flickr. However, it doesn’t irk me too much when sites do this because well, generally the do a pretty good job and for the most part they are free with the exception of the flickr Pro membership.
The Back Story (as I understand it)
Basically, Flickr hasn’t changed since 2004 according Thomas Hawk and that says a lot. Thomas also gave a pretty decent rundown on the new changes on his blog today. As the needs of people grow and get used to different social media forms and even cameras themselves, sites have to keep up with the times. With increased competition from other more social photo-sharing sites like Instagram, people were starting to leave and stop dropping so many sparkly flashing comments. Flickr seemed to be lacking… something.
The public cried out to the new CEO of Yahoo, who took over Flickr, Marissa Mayer to “make Flickr awesome again” What is telling about this statement was that people still loved Flickr, they still uploaded their photos but it was still clearly lacking…. something. People wanted a fresh look to the site and they wanted a site that would show their photos in a way that is current and beautiful.
What Happened Today
When Flickr members either opened their email or checked their flickr page they were hit with a surprise. POW! there is your awesome back! Well, not exactly to the liking of many on Facebook and the Flickr FAQ. It was a little confusing at first because this announcement came with the statement that you would get a free terabyte of space… for FREE!!
What does that mean? Well for me it means nothing as I never uploaded full res photos to my flickr site anyway but for those looking to show the big-ass high res images, you have nothing to worry about. The problem was that if the free accounts get a terabyte of storage, what is the point of having a “Pro” account?
What they have added is a basic ad-based system where you pay to “remove the ads” and plugged in some other goodies like stats and whatnot similar to 500px. The also increased the price to $50.
A lot of the outrage from my friends and people in my circles centered around the new layout and look of the photos. I must admit that I didn’t really notice at all. However, judging by the comments left on their FAQ forum, people really really hate the look. I mean hate with the fires of hell hate.
People also brought up that the photos looked horrible with the new layout and that the high contrast colour scheme was aweful. People wanted their 90′s-era page back with all of it’s white space (which people also complained about too back in the day) and random greetings in foreign languages.
Besides that, the arguments are lacking in a bit of substance. I have spent the afternoon looking through them online and thinking “So what?” The other thing that people brought up was that they have copied Google+ and 500px and to that again I say “yup… so?” If you look at how many of the social photo sites are heading they are all starting to look the same. Columns and mosaic style photo pages.
In my mind I don’t really see what the fuss is about. My pro account stays the same price (yup not $50) and I get the terabyte of add-free goodness. Also the stats page, forums, and groups page (now called “communities”) are all basically similar to the point where I still don’t really care.
Flickr was losing its focus and the whole platform needed to be updated. The flashy gif icon thingies that pepper the comment section gave the entire experience a very dated feel. The groups were losing their drive as less and less people participate and the “Flikr Meet Ups” have all but stopped and are now taken over with Google+ Photo walks and Facebook group Photo walks. They only way I can describe my feelings about the old flickr style is to compare it to the shopping mall in my hometown. They are both used frequently and are vital to the community but haven’t been updated since the the 90′s. They are suffering from the new kids on the block (pardon the pun) but people still visit there quite often even though they are not offering as much or just the “same old same old”
I actually like the new layout as it was a pleasant surprise. Once you get used to the layout changes, it actually seems more organized. The home page doesn’t get overloaded with comments as they are integrated into the stream. The scrolling feature now shows me more of the photos from my contacts and I can stay on the same page. I don’t have to leave the page or sort through a 1000 tiny square icons.
The group suggestions and activities are located on the right as well as the Explore/Commons previews. Going back to the main page, I really like the fact that I don’t have to keep muting popular post just to see some variety on the page or having to click “more recent activity” to see if any of my photos received comments. I can just scroll around and see what’s new.
Another interesting feature that I like is the fav and comment function right from the preview. With the new layout, you can see photo previews on a larger scale and you can comment or like them directly from that page. This means for those people hunting for comments you will probably get more fav’s and comments as people do not have you head to your page, they can drop a comment right from the home page.
As for the single picture viewing experience, I find that the picture now fills the page better and the lightbox experience fills the screen seamlessly. All of the keyboard shortcuts are still in place (“f” for fav and “l” for lightbox, etc.) if you want to check out more just type “?” when you are viewing a picture and they will all come up.
Finally I guess that I feel flickr was overdue for an upgrade in order to keep it current. I like the new layout and I feel that they are going to be improving things in time. I really hope they do something with how the group lists are organized. At any rate, I think that this is the first of many changes and I like where Flickr is going.