We’ve seen plenty of sites emerge over the last few years that are built around helping users share media: Facebook is the largest photo sharing site on the planet, but there’s also media-centric sites like Flickr that have devoted followings. rrripple is the latest to joint the fray, and it’s doing it with a unique UI that’s optomized for both mouse/keyboard and touchscreen interaction. The company was part of this year’s TechCrunch50 demopit, where it launched its public beta.
The site has a slick and fairly unique design: everything is organized on a timeline, with an album for each day represented as a vertical column running up the screen. Each column is filled with thumbnails representing the photos taken on that day, which makes it easy to tell at a glance which album you want to jump to. Once you’ve chosen an album, you can hone in on the type of media you’d like to look at from that day, be it photos, videos, notes, links, or files. You can also use a slider at the bottom of the screen to control the zoom level, much as you would in iPhoto or a similar photo app. To add something to an album, you hit the ‘Post’ button in the upper right hand corner of the screen, which brings up a straightforward menu for uploading content.
As with sites like Multiply, one of rrripple’s key focuses is on allowing users to choose exactly which users they want to share their content with. Sharing is done using panels that pop out of the far right and left hand sides of the screen. At the left side is a tab for your friends — hit it, and a list of your friends will slide out. You can share your photos and other media with individual friends, or you bundle your friends into various groups, which allow you to share your content with multiple people at once. Once you’ve sorted your groups out, you can share some photos with them by dragging and dropping them from your main timeline onto the group’s icon.
The UI works pretty well using a mouse and keyboard, but it’s also perfectly suited for use on a touchscreen display, as it lets you essentially ‘flick’ through your photo history instead of just scrolling through it. rrripple has also kept the number of dense menus to a minimum — most actions can be done using large buttons that would be at home on a touchscreen. None of these design decisions were an accident — the rrripple team says that they’ve designed the site with touchscreens in mind.
At this point rrripple is still rough around the edges — you can tell that the UI has potential, but there are times where it doesn’t behave the way you’d expect. There are also a few features that seem to be missing, like the ability to view PDF documents from directly within the site (you can upload and share them, but to view them you have to download them to your desktop). Everything is also built using Flash, which is going to be a problem for accessing the site on portable devices, as many of them don’t support Flash (at least, not yet). All of that said, rrripple is showing promise. The company has an iPhone application that should be coming out any day now, and has support for more platforms in the pipeline (hopefully they’re also considering converting the interface to something other than Flash).
And finally, the startup is well aware of the biggest gripe most people will have: it realizes that the domain is a little ridiculous, and is open to changing the company name.