As many Yahoo properties continue to stumble (or worse), one that remains very dear to my heart is Flickr, the massive photo-sharing service. With over 4 billion photos and videos (and about 3 million new ones uploaded each day), it’s one Yahoo service that won’t be going away anytime soon. And luckily the company realizes that — as today they’re previewing an overhaul of the entire photo-viewing and sharing experience. The result is great.
The changes Flickr is making involve the photo pages themselves. The biggest difference that you’ll notice right off the bat is that the actual picture on these pages is larger — 30 percent larger, actually. This makes it very clear what your eye should be focusing on. And that’s important because Flickr has added a number of other new features on the page to enrich the experience.
The second thing your eye will be drawn to is the new map in the right sidebar of Flickr photo pages. Flickr has 130 million geotagged photos, making it the largest collection of geotagged photos on any site on the web. This new map appropriately highlights photos that are — and makes those that aren’t easier to geotag on the spot. Hovering over this map will also zoom you in closer to see where the photo was taken in more detail. And clicking on the map will load a larger map as an overlay that you can manipulate.
The third biggest change about these Flickr pages is that the comment stream has been revamped. Now, you’ll not only see new comments here, but you’ll see when someone “Favorites” a photo as well. “Favorites have always been kind of the conversation on Flickr. We feel it’s natural to move favorites into the conversation,” Flickr Head of Product Matthew Rothenberg tells us. And new comments appear in the stream in realtime now.
Another big change is the ability to quickly view photos in their own in a lightbox overlay. Clicking on the new magnifying class icon will allow you to do this. And finally, keyboard arrow keys work work on Flickr to navigate through photos. (You can also play through photos this way in a slideshow.)
Other new features include simplified drop-down menus for actions such as tagging photos, editing them, and viewing different sizes. And a revamped flimstrip area in the right sidebar allows you to more quickly move between photo pages, sets, and collections. Individual privacy settings for photos are now more accessible as well.
But the biggest change may be something you don’t actually see on the screen. Each of these photo pages has been gutted and rebuilt from the ground up, Rothenberg notes. Despite main page photos being bigger, and all these new features, pages should load “greater than 50% faster in almost all cases,” he says. A quick scan over a preview of the new site confirms this to be true.
“Our core mission is letting users share photos with people who matter to them,” Rothenberg says. “We decided to go back to the roots — try to figure out what we’re trying to convey on these pages,” he says. This redesign is the first step — Rothenberg hints that the next steps involve improving actual photo sharing functionality. We’re already seeing a part of this thanks to Flickr’s most recent partnerships with Facebook and Getty.
When I specifically asked about Facebook — the site which is now the largest photo sharing site in the world thanks to their nearly 500 million members — Rothenberg notes that they don’t really see them as a competitor. In fact, he views them as beneficial to Flickr, as the new partnership opens Flickr images to people who might not otherwise use the service. “We want to offer the best place for your photo to be no matter where it’s going,” he says.
(As a side note, he also says that a bug which can currently dump hundreds of Flickr photos into your Facebook stream if you do a bulk import will be fixed shortly — a problem I had recently.)
Rothenberg also notes his excitement for devices like the new iPhone and all the new Android devices as those will only continue to push photo sharing and geotagging.
This new Flickr photo page design will be rolling out to all members in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, people can opt-in to test it out today.
Some other key stats Yahoo is sharing about Flickr:
Flickr.com is a photo sharing website with free and paid memberships. Users have the option to make their pictures private or public, however around 80% of the pictures on Flickr are public. Other features of Flickr include maps to track where and when photos were taken, tagging and commenting on pictures, and the ability to create postcards and other products.
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