New Flickr: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The Good

It’s a change. Everything needs to change from time to time. Some users have complained for a long time that Flickr had grown stale. And yet it remained massively popular and much loved – testament to the fact that the original design was so good. A masterpiece, even. But change has to come, and change is good. It means it’s still alive, cared about, being nurtured.

I’ve been shooting 16:9 format for several years now. I liked the symmetry on Flickr. I avoided shooting portrait, squares or any other format. Just to keep it all neat. That doesn’t work so good with New Flickr. The never ending flow benefits a mash up, montage style, of photo formats. That’s great. I can be more adventurous now with my framing and cropping. I’ve already been at work doing just that, and it looks great in my opinion.

That wall of photos is awesome. It makes the absolute most of your monitor, with shots from border to border. This is all about photography, remember. There’s been a lot of negative stuff about the changes, and most of the comments I’ve read seem to have forgotten it’s a photo site.

New users get an incredible 1 terabyte of space. More than 99.9% of people will ever need. I’ve worked out that at my current rate of shooting images, it’ll be more than 300 years before I used all that space up. There’s a few caveats to that approximate figure, but the point remains, it’s a huge amount of space.

I’m a Pro user and have been for years. I get Unlimited space. Which I like, even though, as per the last paragraph, that is completely irrelevant. But I also got an ad free experience. New users will have to pay $49 bucks to get rid of the ads.  Good on you Flickr, for doing the decent thing and letting me keep the terms I originally signed up for.

The new Android app. Beautiful. Period.

The Bad

New users get unlimited HD video uploads, with each video allowed to last 3 minutes and use up to 1gb of that 1 terabyte of space. Fantastic! For new users. For us Pro users? We’re still capped by the 90 second 500mb limit. That, frankly, is a bit mean. I like the Flickr video player, and I could be persuaded to switch from You Tube to Flickr. But this doesn’t persuade me. Nor, Mr Flickr, does it persuade me to abandon my Pro status – just in case you were hoping that that would be the case.

The new look feels more like they’ve skinned Flickr, rather than released a new Flickr. That’s because, basically, they’ve skinned Flickr, rather than released a new Flickr. It’s a bit of a Frankenstein job. Flickrstein? Click on an image in my Photostream. Scroll down…there’s the old Flickr! The old Flickr is to be found all over the place, completely unchanged. Broken links too. To be fair, I imagine the engineering behind any change on a site as massive as Flickr must be a nightmare. The opportunity to break things must be legion. But still. It’s Frankenflickr.

The Ugly

That banner at the top. You choose one of your images and then move it till you like it. Oh my. I didn;t like it no matter what image I chose and how much I moved it around. It’s not nice. It’s really not nice. What else they could have done, I know not. But almost anything would have been nicer to look at surely. Marissa Mayer came from Google, a company whose ability to make things ugly knows no bounds. And that top banner is oh so very Googleish. I really haven’t taken to it. At all.

What I have done is too create a banner to try and deflect from it’s ugliness. But there’s no hiding the white text. My name, my sign up date, my photo totals. If you try and upload a white banner, you’ll find that there’s a grey to white gradient along the bottom, so you’ll be defeated. I’ve done what I can, by creating an all black banner with The Mexile written across it. I’ve also taken the opportunity to use the same banner to ‘beautify’ my YouTube page.

And by the by, the main Flickr homepage is hideous too. Large image squares with thick black lines at top and bottom or on the sides….work to be done there.

The Verdict

I have mixed feelings about the update. I love many elements of the change. I love that the site is being worked on. And I love the direction they are taking….in the hope that this is not the final destination. I’m fine with the new free account/pro account grandfathering. I’m a little disappointed that the change is a little half baked. I’m distraught by that banner. Please Mr Flickr, do something with that banner. My suggestion. Allow users to turn off the white text. And allow us to determine the height of the banner. If I could have my existing banner up then, sans text, and a whole load narrower, I’d be a ton happier.

And do keep working on the site in general! I hope Flickr is a labour of love for you in the same way photography is a labour of love for your users. That would make us the right match!



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