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Category: Photo Sharing Websites (AKA Online Photo Album Sites)
Website: http://www.flickr.com

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Once good, now a mess
31 August 2013
Reviewer: Listorama from Pacific Northwest, USA

171 of 352 people found this review helpful

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Flickr underwent a huge re-design in Spring 2013. It was foisted on users with no advance warning, made the site much more difficult to use, and introduced many bugs. The change had something to do with the trend toward smartphone photography and the ability to upload photos while on the go. "Pro" (paid) accounts were eliminated. "Everyone gets a terabyte of free space" was advertised as if that were important. Overall, the new design had the feel of an appeal to pre-teens who were easily impressed by certain cosmetic changes.

Users complained in droves about the changes (and bugs) from the beginning, begging for re-instatement of the previous design. Some bugs were fixed, some remain, and the basic re-design was kept in spite of the huge level of dissatisfaction in the user community. Some users quit Flickr and went elsewhere: ipernity.com was talked about a lot because it had some of the look and feel of the "old Flickr."

A cute but useless photo banner was attached to the top of almost every page, wasting space. Later, a useless Yahoo toolbar was also added, eating up more screen space. They cannot be turned off. But those were minor annoyances compared to other changes.

Basic navigation among photos---whether yours or those of others---used to be easy and pleasant, but now it's painfully inconvenient. There used to be thumbnails, separated by white space, making navigation easy. They were replaced by a cute but difficult-to-use collage of "wall-to-wall images." Scrolling through such pages is terribly slow and disorienting. Certain navigation features were eliminated. The location of most maintenance functions was changed, sometimes in ways that were less convenient to use. In short, the new design is a disaster.

Flickr still has some great underlying features. I like the ability to comment on images and post one's images to subject-oriented groupings called "pools" (for example, the Seattle pool accepts Seattle photos from any user). Linking to photos is easy. Anyone can flag another's photos as "favorites," which are displayed as a grouping of images within one's own account. A user can designate any other user as a contact, enabling one to see the recently-uploaded photos of those other users. One can place "notes" on an image, describing details of a scene.

In summary, a photo-hosting site that had a few minor problems was changed into one with major problems and no indication from management that anything was amiss. It is baffling why anyone thought the new design---and the way it was introduced---was a good idea. I would not recommend Flickr nor would I join it today knowing what I do about it.

In summary, I would not recommend Flickr to a friend.

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