Flickr goes Gamma

Flickr upgraded from ‘beta’ to ‘gamma’ status on Tuesday. As well as a new search system and a new Organizr, the largest change was a revamp of the interface.

The top-of-page options have been grouped into ‘You’, ‘Organize’, ‘Contacts’, ‘Groups’ and ‘Explore’, with drop-down menus for quick access. I’m not generally a fan of drop-downs, but these aren’t too bad. The section links themselves send you to the most important pages, so navigation is still generally a one-click process.

Group pools are much better. The Flickr Elves have managed to create a layout that looks neat, without vast amounts of whitespace. That’s quite the feat, actually. I’ve tried creating photo layouts on websites, and different orientations and picture sizes play havoc with any kind of aesthetics. See the FlickrCentral pool for an example.

Individual users’ photostreams now have two columns of photos, the space for which was found by emptying the sidebar of all links and grouping them under the username. This is undeniably neater. ‘Interestingness’ has been renamed ‘Popular’, which, although understandable, is a shame.

The Organizr seems to have been re-written from the ground up. The flash-based interface is gone, replaced by a clever AJAXy system. I haven’t had time to play with it properly, but immediate impressions are that it’s an improvement. It’s way faster, with no annoying delays on adding photos to sets. It also takes up the entire window, which definitely helps! Deleting a photo from a set is also an spectacular experience 🙂

They must be saving substantially on bandwidth with the new layout, and the whole site does feel more responsive.

The only real quibble I have with the revamp is that on Tuesday I wrote and distributed instructions on how to use Flickr, and got home to find various parts were wrong! They had given some warning, to be fair, so it was my own fault 🙂