The New Flickr: Love it or Leave it?

Flickr- Your Photostream
The new profile page

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.

Flickr- JTeale's Photostream
circa 2010

The Outrage

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 think that it was all that bad. 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.

Ulsan - Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Large views are nice

My Opinion

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.

Welcome to Flickr!
home screen is compartmental and organized

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.

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  1. Chris Reply

    You are missing the entire point of Flickr. Flickr HAD the best photo site in terms of grouping, letting yourself and others see EXACTLY the pictures you wanted them to see in the order you wanted them to see, ease of finding yours and others pictures.

    Yes, i know the sets and collections are still there. The problem is you have to have a direct link now to find stuff. When you go to the page now, you don’t have an easy to read page showing your recent activity (including comments, which you can now only see by loading the big ass pictures that eat up bandwidth, then scrolling them off the page). You no longer have an easy to see recent picture line from friends, you no longer have an easy to read line of recent pictures from groups you are in. It’s sensory overload with the huge tile pictures.

    I have been a loyal flickr pro member for over 5 years now. They’ve made changes that i didn’t like over the years, but i could work through it. This is the first time i’ve ever truly considered pulling all my photos and making my own gallery or using a different service. There is really nothing i’ve found out there that Allows me to group and order things quite the way flickr does, i’m actually considering writing my own software for the first time in years.

    • Jason Teale Reply

      I am not sure I follow your first sentence. If photo sharing is not the point of flickr then what is? The problems that you mention are pretty small in my mind. The comments in the old way annoyed me so much. Especially when you had a million people commenting on someone else’s photo with those flashy things.

      As for the recent picture line, I find it easier to see my contacts pictures now then having to click through page after page. To be honest the way the old way was set up I rarely bothered to check those areas because it was so annoying to go through.

      At any rate, I do appreciate your opinion. As with anything we all have our thoughts on the subject and I am happy that you shared yours here.

  2. ClintJCL Reply

    This is like reading an article written by a vanilla person on why people are into S&M. You just lack the critical understanding and personal experience to be qualified to make a judgment.

    A lot went over your head. I don’t even need to enumerate it, as any actual flickr user coming here already knows what I’m talking about.

    • Jason Teale Reply

      You do realize that I have been a flickr user since 2006. I am not exactly sure what went over my head. Perhaps I am not being as hyper critical as some but I do think that complaining about “the look” seems a little subjective. Care to enlighten me?

    • Manish Reply

      Clint – why can’t you elaborate? Your statement is confusing? Shooting in the dark and hope to hot a target?

  3. Christina Reply

    One of the problems many users have with the new look and layout is how cluttered it is, how unorganized it appears, and how loud and in your face the homepage and their own pages suddenly feel.

    Flickr may seem outdated to some people and while I disagree, I can see where some folks might have felt that way; social media sites today are all about instant gratification, their users have no interest in having to click links or use menus.

    The average person who frequents sites like Facebook for photo sharing wants things in their face, so all they have to do is use their finger to swipe through a collage of images without any concern for titles or structure. Facebook and sites with similar designs in photo sharing are like the fast food of the photo sharing world.

    Flickr stood out from the masses; the site was clean, simple, and understated. Everything was organized and orderly and the white space, that some people considered outdated, held an important purpose — the white space is like the wall of an art gallery and that is why, in part, so many real photographers were drawn to Flickr in the first place.

    If Facebook and other similarly designed sites (Google+, etc) are the fast food of photo sharing sites, than Flickr was the 5 star restaurant of photo sharing sites. Flickr never was just a photo sharing site. It was a site for photographers, amateur to professional and people looking to better their craft. This is why so many users are disappointed and crestfallen about the recent change.

    If Yahoo wanted to update Flickr to draw in the smart phone and tablet crowds, I understand. They need to keep Flickr relevant. But, why not allow for options? Users who especially used Flickr more often on their desktops and laptops are especially frustrated with this change. Why not offer users the option to keep the classic look or try out the new layout? Since when did lack of options become an intelligent plan when dealing with customers?

    I could care less about the terabyte, honestly. I mean, it’s all fine and dandy, but it’s not something I ever needed, so I would certainly have never missed it.

    The new Flickr layout reminds me of a teenagers bedroom wall. It’s juvenile. And, the reason that people care that they’ve copied sites like Facebook and others is because who wants yet another site that looks like all the others out there? That is part of what made Flickr stand out, in the first place. It was more than those other sites. It was classy and understated. It wasn’t loud or in your face. It was quiet and reserved, but beautiful and displayed some of the most impressive photos on the internet, today. There is a reason for that and the reason is the old design.

    I really miss Stewart Butterfield and Caterina.

    • Jason Teale Reply

      Thank you for a great comment.

      This is probably the best comment that demonstrates a great opposing view. You laid out your point clearly and I can now understand a bit more of why people dislike Flickr’s new look.

      Thank you.

  4. Sean Reply

    I for one welcome our new flickr overlords.

    The new layout is sexy and the android app rocks!

  5. The Bobster Reply

    I like it. I wasn’t sure at first, but I’ve decided I do.

    However, I am not a professional photographer and I doubt I will ever aspire to such. I did not have a pro account and I didn’t expect I would ever get around to getting one. Actually, I can understand how some folks who’ve been paying for pro accounts might feel cheated by the largesse of the extra space now being granted to everyone. From my point of view, though, it’s like getting an unexpected tax refund in the mail, and wondering how on earth I’m going to spend it.

    Interestingly, the changeover happened pretty close to having recently upgraded my monitor to a widescreen, which I did precisely to help with editing my photos. I can understand what people are saying about clutter, but on my console it looks fine, better in fact. I’m enjoying looking at my own stuff rather more than I did in the past.

    I think a lot of the bitterness is tied in with Marissa Mayer’s recent unfortunate comment about there being no such thing as professional photographers anymore – I’m pretty sure what she meant was that Flickr wasn’t going to cater expressly to the ‘serious’ photography mavens anymore, that there are other sites that might do that better and that, really, it’s not hard at all to produce your own personal photo website, which I think Clint at the top was threatening to do.

    I’m with Jason, though, and I don’t think the changes are all that bad and in many ways they do make it better.

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