Yahoo's faster Flickr photo page now out of beta testing

Yahoo's photo-sharing site has switched English-language users to a new photo page that puts comments, camera details, and captions into a right-hand sidebar. It's faster, but plenty of people don't like it.

Flickr's new photo page puts comments, captions, camera data, and more on the right side of the page.
Flickr's new photo page puts comments, captions, camera data, and more on the right side of the page. Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Flickr's new photo page, a redesign that moves captions, comments, and other details to a dark sidebar, is now the only way many users can see individual images on Yahoo's photo-sharing site.

Flickr had been beta-testing the page and gradually fleshing out its features for months, but beta testers could opt out and get the old look. Now it's out of beta for English-speaking users.

"We have incorporated a lot of the feedback you have been sharing with us and we believe that Flickr's new experience is ready to be the default experience for everyone," Flickr team member Satish Mummareddy said in a forum post Tuesday. "With the photo page redesign we set out to provide you with an incredibly fast photo browsing experience, highlight the photo and the accompanying story, bring you all the functionality in one place, and do it all with beautiful design."

Flickr, a site that pioneered photography on the Net, has been working hard for years to reclaim the relevance it lost to rivals that were quicker to capitalize on new trends like social networking and mobile phone photography. It remains widely used, with more than 8 billion images and 300 million monthly users, but Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer has made Flickr a top priority in her effort to rebuild Yahoo's image and its business prospects.

One big part of that effort was a major Flickr overhaul in 2013 that gave all users 1 terabyte of free photo storage and placed more emphasis on a wall-to-wall view of people's photos. "We want to make Flickr awesome again," Mayer said at the time.

Another change appears likely, too, that would get rid of the purple Yahoo toolbar atop some parts of Flickr, though not the pages that show individual photos.

The new design loads pages much more rapidly, Mummareddy said: "The new photo page is 20x faster when going from one photo to the next. Over the next few months we will be bringing similar performance improvements to the rest of Flickr."

Complaints about new design

As is common with redesigns of widely used sites, plenty of people took to Twitter and Flickr forums to object to the new photo page that arrived Tuesday.

"All of a sudden my page was changed without me asking for it or clicking on it. I do not like the new page and did not want the new page so please put it back the way it was when I logged on this morning. Please do not change it again. I am paying for the account so please let me see it the way I like it not the way you like it," complained one Flickr user, Misscherieamor.

Science fiction author John Scalzi also wasn't happy. "When your 'improvements' take away functionality or require more steps to do the same things, they're not improvements," he said on Twitter.

The sidebar, black with white text and graphics, has a wealth of information that in Flickr years ago was either to the right of the photo or, in the case of comments, below it. Now it's only to the right.

Flickr has taken its new photo page out of beta testing, but some features, such as the ability to attach location coordinates to a photo, remain a work in progress.
Flickr has taken its new photo page out of beta testing, but some features, such as the ability to attach location coordinates to a photo, remain a work in progress. Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Those who don't like the sidebar can click or tap the full-screen icon to the upper right of the photo to temporarily hide it.

Atop the sidebar is the photo's title and caption, comments (sometimes hidden to save space), a star to mark favorites, a sharing tool, a triple-dot menu that leads to links for high-res versions and various controls. It's also got image thumbnails that let people browse a user's photo stream -- an idea Flickr invented years ago that no longer seems terribly unusual.

Below, Flickr users will have a choice of three information panels. The first mode shows EXIF information -- metadata about the photo including the camera and lens, their settings, and editing software used on the photo. The second shows groups a photo belongs to -- Flickr users can share photos with people who share their interest in amorous insects or donuts -- and lets people explore Flickr's broader collection. The third shows tags with which people labeled their photos.

About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.


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