Why There Is No Flickr Alternative: Redux

A little over a month ago I gave some reasons why my failed attempts to find a flickr alternative (see Flickr Alternatives) failed in my first “Why There Is No Flickr Alternative” post. Little did I know Marissa Meyer is on a war path to turn Yahoo! around, and it looks like she is focusing in all off the right places. Despite what critics may say of her recent Tumblr purchase or of the new Flickr revamp, things are changing, and you cannot wrong her for trying to turn the company around. After all, that is her job.

But this isn’t a post to praise Meyer for her attempts. Rather, this is is a post to talk about why patience and sticking with a sinking ship can sometimes yield pleasant results.

The New Look

Flickr was bought up by Yahoo! and then pretty much abandoned. While the rest of the web landscape changed, flickr remained stagnant. It wasn’t awful, it just wasn’t great. The new layout is quite the turnaround. While I am not sold on the block layout look for your personal stream I think what Yahoo! has done for your update stream works incredibly well. Not only are photos the most prominent item in view (the old look was very busy), your groups, commons and the blog all hold a strong, but not overbearing presence. There is a clear hierarchy and you don’t have to fight through square thumbnails anymore. I also love what they have done with the notifications. Yes, the square thumbnail seemed hard to shake here, but the panoramic knockout behind the notification info is a great little touch. I also love that I can favorite and comment right from the stream. They were also smart with the redesign. They didn’t do everything at once, but the layout the came up with works rather seamlessly with the old and the new. No doubt Meyer will have plans to churn through some of the vestigial pages and bring up the new look all together.

The Storage Size

In my last post I said how I liked having easy access to the photos I’ve stored. Now, since I have maintained my pro, thankfully, nothing will change. I pay a little more and still get unlimited storage. While the new terabyte of storage is practically unlimited for free users, it is nice to know I am rewarded for being an existing Pro member. Regardless, one terabyte, or an existing pro membership, Flickr still reigns supreme here.

The Future

Previously I mentioned how I enjoyed the “post to tumblr” feature. Now that Yahoo! owns Tumblr, I can imagine this will only become more seamless and potentially more fun. Especially if they allow you to create a tumblr photo-set straight from your flickr stream, one feature that keeps me uploading my photos to Flickr and Tumblr for certain projects. If Flickr continues down this path, I’m not going to say they will return to the former glory, but they certainly are enroute to picking up the next generation of photographers whom are searching for something more than micro and macro sharing. While sites like Instagram and Tumblr allow for quick bursts of sharing, there is no doubt that sites like WordPress and Flickr will remain around for a long, long time, for those who enjoy longer formats.

What are your thoughts on the redesign and the future of Yahoo? Feel free to comment below.

7 Responses to “Why There Is No Flickr Alternative: Redux”

  1. Paul J

    Great analysis. My use of Flickr is a little different than yours, but you connect very well with how I feel about the site. I found your blob as I was researching alternatives, not because I am dissatisfied with Flickr, just that I want to get to know the alternatives. I started with Flickr because I felt it was a good way to display the products from my current business endeavor, and I feel it does that very well in addition to diplaying personal photos.

    I imagine Flickr will continue to improve other features, but I like what they have done initially.

    • brandonheyer

      Hi Paul,

      It is an interesting case of the grass not really being fluorescent green on either side of the fence. Flickr offers a lot, but it can be a little lackluster feeling at times, especially when it comes to the social aspects, which I think leads a lot of people to search for an alternative. But in reality, I am finding those social aspects are secondary to what many long term users really value with Flickr, and they end up saying “you know, Flickr really isn’t all that bad.”

      I still have that occasional sense of yearning, but the new update has stymied those feelings for the most part (using their app on my tablet is incredibly painful). I really do think Marissa may be able to turn this one around.

  2. Shelly

    I hate viewing photos on black. I can’t see them well at all. I found a hack to change the background back to white. Not perfectly, but good enough. I hate flickr’s justified view. The photos are too close together for easy viewing and take forever to load on my high speed connection. They’re changing groups to that view now, and the new design devalues discussions. My favorite part of flickr has been the social aspect, including group discussions. In fact, flickr is doing everything possible to alienate longtime users, especially ones who don’t have perfect vision. I have too many photos there to move them all, and haven’t found a site I like, Ipernity has possibilities, but they have a long way to go before they’ll be something I want to use. I’ll probably just go back to just maintaining my photoblog and leave the social aspect of sharing my photos and chatting with like minded folks. Which is a shame, as I’ve made so many real life friends via flickr’s groups. I’m starting to worry about my Tumblr account now, too.

    • brandonheyer

      Hi Shelly,

      I agree there are some things that Flickr hasn’t done well (thus feeling like there must be an alternative). On black was sort of the defacto view and I get why they picked it, would be nice to have it be user defined. It is too bad forums are going the way of the dodo, I never got into the Flickr community because I could never find one that wasn’t about spamming comments to make it to Explore. Forums, on the other hand, I thrived with, as did my photography.

      Maybe that is what I need to do — start up a sweet photo forum, eh?


  3. Simon

    The biggest issue with the new Flickr layout is that it is so slow. If you have a slow broadband connection (like I do) Flickr is now almost unusable.

  4. Kenneth

    I don´t like the new look at all. Most of my images are divided into sets and collection. I would like visitors to my profile be met by these sets and collections sine they add context and a story to my photos. Now they are met by what seems to be a mess of different images without any really red thread keeping them together. In for example 500px they have this concept of “stories” that exactly what i am looking for. The problem with 500px is that the quality of the content is sky high and it is really not the place to add your vacation photos.
    I hope that yahoo and Flickr will make a change and focus on sets and collections a little bit more.


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