Toronto Mike

It's the Interface, Stupid


I instantly hated the idea of Microsoft buying Yahoo!.  Microsoft may be the big boys on the desktop, but they've always sucked at the web.  Google and Yahoo either started or bought up most of the web sites and services that work, everything from YouTube to Gmail to Flickr.  Microsoft has never launched a well-accepted web 2.0 web services suite, in fact, every time they attempt to compete they fail miserably.

Back in 2004, I fell in love (if you can fall in love with a web service) with Flickr.  Flickr was founded by Ludicorp, a nice little Canadian company, and in 2004 I actually paid Flickr money for a pro account.  I never pay for anything on the web, so the fact I was willing to hand over actual coin is all the evidence of my loyalty you need.  This was something worth paying for, a photo sharing website that enhanced my life.

Why did Flickr work while many other photo sharing sites failed?  Lord knows I tried several before falling for Flickr.  What did Ludicorp do that Microsoft was never able to do?  The answer is simple.  It's the interface, stupid.

Flickr reflected a brilliant user interface that evolved into the epitome of Web 2.0 utilizing Ajax techniques that made one forget they were in a browser.  Uploading pictures, tagging them, embedding them on the web and organizing ones photos isn't just easy, it's a pleasure.  Flickr understands the importance of user interface and when they built a better mousetrap, passionate users followed in droves.

Flickr users aren't just users, they're part of a vibrant community.  Creating passionate users is precisely what Microsoft fails at time and time again.  Passionate users grow abundantly in such fertile ground. When Yahoo! bought Flickr, they understood what they had purchased and let it be.  Other than forcing Flickr users to tie their accounts to a Yahoo! login, Yahoo! hasn't caused a single disruption in the force.  Flickr is better than ever with several awesome upgrades of late.  I'm happily sharing 4,713 photos right now, and it's all because of Flickr's interface.

If/when Microsoft buys Yahoo!, they'll own Flickr as well.  I'm actually dreading this transition.  I don't trust Microsoft to "let it be".  They've proven time and time again that they don't get it.  They don't lure passionate users because they don't do good user interface.  If they end up with Flickr and don't announce plans to sell it to someone who cares, I'll leave the community.

I'll leave with my 4,713 photos and every ounce of my passion.

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About Toronto Mike
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