Flickr Designer Writes Blog Post Publicly Criticizing the Site’s Usability

There have been a number of stories lately reporting that a large number of Flickr users are leaving the site for new photo-sharing services that are cropping up, including Instagram and 500px. Earlier his week, a designer at Flickr named Timoni West wrote a post on her blog that publicly criticized Flickr’s usability. More specifically, she calls the “Your contacts” page (the one that shows your contacts’ photos) the “most important page on Flickr”, pointing out the problems with the page and offering redesign ideas that would address them.

The page fails on a fundamental level—it’s supposed to be where you find out what’s happened on Flickr while you were away. The current design, unfortunately, encourages random clicking, not informed exploration.

The page isn’t just outdated, it’s actively hurting Flickr, as members’ social graphs on the site become increasingly out of sync with real life. Old users forget to visit the site, new sign ups are never roped in, and Flickr, who increased member sign-ups substantially in 2010, will forego months of solid work when new members don’t come back.

On the other hand, Timoni still believes Flickr can be a competitive player in the photo-sharing arena:

Flickr can have a serious competitive advantage if they make photo uploads easy to see and navigate: everybody likes photos, and likes seeing themselves in photos, and it’s even nicer to see photos all arranged on a page without visual cruft like status interruptions and article links. It’s also crucial to have different ways of viewing the photos: chronological is important, but so are groupings by date and contact type.

In other words, Flickr still has the ability to kick ass in this arena. They just have to build it.

If you’re a fan of Flickr, check out the blog post and see if you agree with the criticism she offers.

The Most Important Page on Flickr (via TechCrunch)

  • Ndt

     I absolutely hate the layout and overall usability of flicker. I tried it out for a few months,and simply found it to be a very frustrating and disjointed experience. It culminated in me terminating my account. 

  • Andrew

     I definitely agree. Currently when I visit flickr, I mostly do it to upload my own photos, check my stats, and specifically visit a handful of streams I know I like. If I ever do look at my contacts list, it is usually very briefly.

    If I could just keep scrolling down, letting all the work flash by (in an almost Tumblr dashboard-esque kind of vibe), I would get a great picture of what was being posted, and could stop and engage with the ones that really caught my eye.

  • Gozer Destructor

    I’ve used Flickr for several years and as of recently have decided to use Tumblr as my main media sharing tool. Flickr has become outdated not only in usibility but its look. Changes need to be made or it will become nothing more than an image host (atleast to me).

  • Dave Riedl

     i never use flickr… if i am browsing flickr content, i use instead.

  • Eric

    I’m a Vancouver-ite and been a member since we beta tested. I was sad to see yahoo buy it. I really wanted it to become part of google and picasa

  • Anonymous

    “…and see if you agree with the she offers.” <- Needs fixing.

  • Paul Pomeroy

     What I get with Flickr that no other site provides is the ability to build and maintain this:

    That is my ever-growing collection of favorite photos taken by other Flickr members, mostly by my contacts. I look at what my contacts (I have about 130) are posting once or twice a week. I add to my collection of favorites sparingly. I look through ALL of my favorites about once a month. Often times I will put some music on and then use the “light box” in autoplay mode to view them as a slideshow. I do this to keep my eye “tuned” to the things I find most meaningful in photographs. I do it because it both humbles and inspires me.

    As for the Contacts page, I have mine set to show me the last 5 photos each of my contacts have posted. I sometimes view them in slideshow mode (the link is over to the upper right). Often times, though, I click on the first photo thumbnail and then just use the right-arrow key to go through them. I bet 90% of the users on Flickr don’t even know that’s possible.

  • Richard

     Flickr is definitely showing its age but it was one of the first successful online communities and remains viable. Things have gone downhill with Yahoo in control but I agree that it’s possible for flickr to survive if they get off their collective butts and push the site into a better place.

    Like Eric above, I’ve been using it as a pro user since it was founded and it’s been quite useful for me over the years, if nothing else to take the bandwidth hit for embedded photographs I use on other sites.

    I hope they live. Time will tell.

  • Michael Zhang

    Thank ya :)

  • Hysyanz

     what are some good flickr alternative?

  • Henning Nilsen

    Read. The. Article.

  • Anonymous

     And while we’re at it, let’s mention that if you post a question to a group you get no automatic status update when someone replies to your post.  You’ve got to dig back through the group’s articles to find your.  Flickr has such potential as a learning tool, it’s a shame to see it set back by poor design.

  • bri

     it needs updating for sure. But not more features. I hope if and when they do an update, they don’t try to make it more then it needs to be. Keep it simple stupid.

  • Photoshop Nerd

    Poor old flickr. Although it’s frustrating to navigate and the UI is outdated it’s sad to see it like this because Flickr has done so much for photographers in the past.

  • 604 Foodtography

    Still love using Flickr because it’s so heavily integrated, hope the designers can respond to this!

  • tom kaszuba

    One great thing about Flickr is the discussions the endless variety of groups have. Indispensable info there.

  • Mike Sweeney

    I was on the old FLickr (pre yahoo) and they were leading the way. Yahoo has sat on their butts while the world has passed FLickr by. Can it catch up? perhaps  but I need it up to date now, not two years from now. The end results is I’m moving everything over to 500px

  • Magneticart

    Today, as it is, Flickr is an expired web experience. I still have a pro account but doubt I’ll renew it. I find InstaGram a much more enjoyable sharing experiment with interesting, easy, intelligent navigation and interaction capability.