A few days ago Yahoo announced a major revamp to the Flickr photo sharing website. Many insiders thought this would help please its current members while appealing to a younger demographic.
A good thing, right? Well…maybe.
For the most part, I’ve held out a bit before commenting on the changes, so I’ll be doing it now. But first, let me start by mentioning a little about our Flickr account.
I’ve had a Flickr account since 2008 (actually the original account started in 2006). We don’t upload many photos, currently there are just over 400 pictures.
However, we’ve managed to get between 1500-15,000 daily views into our “photo stream”. Since 2008 our Flickr account has had over 7.9 million views. How do I know all this? We have a Pro Flickr account, which gives us daily stats.
New Flickr Features
Now to the new Flickr. The changes include larger images in a continuous loading manner. This can be seen in the:
- New Home Page (sample – only viewable if you are logged in)
- New personal photostream Page (sample)
- New single photo page with large black background (sample)
Plus, the one thing Yahoo has been using as a selling tool:
- Free accounts get 1 terabyte of space to upload photos and videos. More on that later.
Yahoo did away with the popular Flickr Pro accounts (existing paid members can continue to get this as long as they renew), but they will no longer be offered to new users.
Pro members paid $25/year for:
- Unlimited storage space
- Ad free experience
- “Pro” badge
Flickr replaced the Pro accounts with two new paid tiers:
- “Ad Free” – cost $49.99/year to remove ads from showing when you browse the site
- “Doublr” – cost $499.99/year for 2 terabytes of photo and video space
My Take On The Flickr Changes
I was on Flickr when they did the switch and it was a big shock. My first reaction was “oh no, this looks like a clone site!” My photostream was no longer neatly organized with a few medium sized images on the left and a few sets on the right. Instead it looked like a mesh of Google+, Tumblr, Facebook and Instagram’s desktop websites all combined into one.
When looking at individual photos, the image was larger but set in a black background. Non photographers always assume all photos look better on “black”, this is not always the case.
I was worried, but not panicking. Time would only tell whether I would adjust and whether it would have an impact on my Flickr traffic.
Knowing that Flickr had a large community of active photographers from around the world, I also knew this was not going to sit well with them. And I was right, see the “Ugly” section below.
I took a deep breath and started to see how this would change things for me and Flickr.
Most people are not aware of this but Flickr’s daily users have been in decline for several years. Sure they have about 89 million registered members, but having members and actual active visitors are a different thing. If you look at the Quantcast numbers for Flickr’s US visitors, you’ll see a decline of about 1/3 of people visiting the site in the last year.
So Yahoo making changes to Flickr is no surprise, even though I liked it’s simplistic way of navigation I knew it needed to change if it was going to survive. So in this case a “change’ was good.
Also, unlike some Pro members, I’m not letting ours expire. Why would I? I’ve been grandfathered in to have true unlimited space and I get to keep my statistics which are very valuable to me. All for the same price as before – $25/year. Even the new “Doublr” account which costs $499/year doesn’t get what I have!
So that’s the Good thing.
Because of the new user interface (UI), loading photos in what is called a “justified” way as one scrolls down, the focus now is entirely on the stream of images as a whole.
Imagine going to an art gallery where instead of the walls being white, they are black and all the art pieces are hung edge to edge. Both side to side and top to bottom. Now stand back, what do you think happens? Yup, the collage itself becomes the focus, not the individual images.
This may work for a smartphone or tablet app, but for a desktop it borders on cluttered.
Add that all the titles, descriptions and comments are now hidden on the bottom half of the photo page, now reduces the chances of communication with the contributor and other members of Flickr.
Flickr was built and maintained by the photo community. Pro’s and non pro’s alike. It’s a place to share, critic and connect with other’s who share the passion of taking photos.
The new UI seems to reduce if not eliminates the ease of the community to do what made Flickr so much fun – interact with each other. This is the “Bad”.
I’m sure Yahoo expected some negative views to the changes, after all they were drastic. But I’m sure they didn’t expect what came next.
A Flickr staff member asked everyone for feedback to the changes. As I write this article, there are over 22 thousand negative replies. All this in less than 4 days since the new update took place.
Not only are they reacting negatively to the changes, many are actually closing down their accounts and leaving to other photo sharing sites. One of the options out there is Ipernity.com, a site that has gone out of the way to embrace the influx of ex-flickr members.
At the same time, Yahoo has only responded by saying that they are working on any “glitches” and only in personal emails to people asking if they can revert back to the old setup, Flickr has said they are not going back.
So you know what comes next? In a community that has so many passionate members, some have resorted to verbally attacking staff online and even leaving nasty remarks at Yahoo’s CEO’s Marissa Mayer Flickr page.
I understand passion, but in this case the way Yahoo and some of its members have reacted to each other is “Ugly”.
My Future With Flickr
It’s obvious that Flickr has changed it’s business model. Having a small community of paid members is not in their plans. They want to go after the numbers and sell ads. This is not necessarily bad, just different.
By the new pricing plan, it’s easy to see that they feel every active user is worth about $50 a year in advertising dollars. With an estimated 89 million users…you do the math.
At this time I’m not jumping ship like some others, it’s much too early for that. Plus I still have my Pro account which is way better than the new tiers. One terabyte is fine and not the issue for me. It’s more about the statistics. For any business, it’s important to know where/how/when your clients/visitors are finding you.
This kind of change is always possible when you host your images with another company. It’s probably one of the reasons I started this site, so I could have full control. It’s really not that difficult, I wrote about it here.
For now, I suspect Flickr will make some minor adjustments (I’ve seen a few already) to address the slow page loads and a few glitches here and there. But for the most part the old Flickr is gone.
It’s a new place now and that’s how I’m looking at it. Change isn’t always good or pretty, but it is inevitable.