Yahoo’s Real Reason Behind Their Big Flickr Redesign

Flickr has been something of a problem child for Yahoo! Inc ever since the day they acquired it. Whilst the site experiences very high levels of user engagement, the challenge has been monetising this traffic. Flickr has also come under increasing pressure from rival photo sites, such as Facebook’s Instagram.

The redesign has been announced by Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer, who announced that the company have rethought the sites user experience, designing a new “beautiful re-imagined experience that puts photos front and centre”

A new user experience

The redesign is intended to replicate popular ‘endless scrolling’ sites. This design feature is becoming more and more prominent, and is utilised by other social media sites like Pinterest as well as web content publications like Mashable.

The new Flickr will include a full screen slide mode for viewing pictures in more detail.


Flickr unlimited storage scrapped

The new Flickr will come with a whopping 1 terabyte of storage for free. Yahoo claim that this will enable users to store upwards of half a million photos at full resolution. This is a marked raise on what users currently get for free.

This is something of a gamble by the internet giants, as it will reduce the demand for their paid storage upgrades. In turn this will place a greater emphasis on advertising within the Flickr ecosystem.

In acceptance of the reduced demand, Yahoo has ditched the unlimited storage plan on Flickr, replacing it with ‘doublr’. As the name suggests, this will allow you to double your storage at a cost of £331 per year.

Yahoo’s gamble

A fundamental rework of a popular websites framework and user experience is always a gamble. Users build up an affinity for a site, enabling them to perform common tasks with ease and little thought.

Facebook redesigns are a good case in point. Whenever they roll-out a design tweak, many of which are nowhere near as significant as this change, then it is commonly met with a slew of status updates begging them to leave the site alone.

In Flickr’s case, they have a more hard-core user base who share a common purpose for using Flickr, so it’s likely that an upgrade the architecture will go down better in that regard. Whilst the Flickr user base is certainly not niche by any standards, it is also nowhere near as broad as the user base on Facebook. Therefore any changes to a site which carries this kind of popularity is not done for changes sake – and it will be executed to meet user and business needs.

Flickr Redesign: All about advertising?

As acknowledged earlier in this piece, Yahoo! Have had a significant problem monetising Flickr. In a similar way to Google and YouTube, big social media based sites are able to gather incredible volumes of page impressions, but they are not the kind of page impression that are easy to monetise.

The most valuable websites for advertising are typically more focussed, premium, niche sites. Advertising is about finding an audience and then engaging it, and broad user bases make this a big challenge.

Increasingly advertising online is now powered by bigger data pots, which enable advertisers to segment their audiences more. This is providing enhanced opportunities for large page view based sites like Flickr.

With that in mind, a redesign will have been structured to drive higher levels of ad engagements. Big web publishers are working to make their advertising inventory more ‘viewable’, which in turn encourages people to click the ads. This is very important for web publishers like Yahoo, as internet ads are typically bought with a volume of clicks in mind. In some cases, the ads are even billed on a ‘cost per click’ basis, whereby the publisher only generates revenue when people engage with the unit.


The real test for a redesign is the affect that it has on user metrics over the three months post its roll-out. Webmasters at Flickr will be looking at a whole raft of measurements to judge this, including the number of page views each user consumes per visit, the time that each user spends on the website per visit and the advert engagement, amongst many more. We’ll keep an eye on the Flickr redesign and the feedback it gets, and keep you in the loop. Remember to follow on Twitter and like us on Facebook to get all of the latest updates.