Can you see me??!?!??!

Friday, 28 October 2005


When I look at Flickr, some days I see a dog's breakfast, and some days I see an elegant site full of gorgeous photos. I see that many, many people continue to sign up and sign in, and I continue to hear fabulous stories about connections and collisions and serendipity.

On the days when I see a dog's breakfast, I find myself feeling a bit like David in charge of Goliath. There are so many ways to slice and dice all this gorgeous data! How much is too much? How does an ever-growing user base and (wonderful) customer loyalty and (surprising) sense of ownership affect the designer's task of continuous improvement?

Flickr is in a state of continual evolution, and that's hard to communicate to members. Sometimes our members express horror rather than pleasure when a remixed page is deployed. If that happens, it's tricky not to feel a) a little boxed in, b) a little sorry for yourself and c) amazed at the pull of this system.

Then, I read an article -- Good Designers Redesign, Great Designers Realign by Cameron Moll -- which resonated very strongly with me, because I feel a tension between the fact that the site (and rich interaction) is holding up under volume, and the fact that the volume itself means that the things that should be on the surface aren't present enough.
The desire to redesign is aesthetic-driven, while the desire to realign is purpose-driven.

So, now I realise that the tension i've been feeling can be alleviated (or at least named) by "realigning" towards an approach of creating windows to engaging, intimate, exciting views on this rich, grubby tapestry we've all made. Of course site functionality should make people happy. Members (and visitors) should be able to do what they need to do quickly and easily, but really, isn't it the content that does that in the end?


Posted at 8:41 pm

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