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I have been using Flickr since 2005 and hasn’t logged in for awhile.

Recently, I came across the new ‘Favorites‘ page. Instead of thumbnails (of whatever sizes) or arrangements with some descriptions, it’s now called ‘Justified’. There’s probably a better description for it, but I’m just going to call it a collage of pictures without altering their dimensions (see image).

Visually, I feel like it’s more aesthetic than just a table of thumbnails. It’s appeal is not because of any one particular picture, but the context of it as an entirety juxtaposition together. And this form of aesthetic is visible in different examples: the index page of film photography, the layout of Instagram.

To better understand why I find it beautiful, I hope to try to ‘measure‘ it with some of Lowgren’s use qualities (to the best of my abilities):

Seductivity

  • the visuals delivers a novelty of viewing pictures that is not  traditional or in the norm
  • it goes beyond obvious needs and expectation – I won’t say it’s really out of the ordinary in this sense, since the previous mode of viewing also lists and lay it out
  • it connects to the personal goal of viewing what you have regarded as your ‘favorite’ and lying them out in a way that not only allows you to look at them together, but maybe also allowing you to draw connections between them  and maybe extract a deeper meaning base on the time and subject of the images.

Usefulness

  • Versus traditional definition of ‘usefulness’, that are task-oriented, the usefulness of this UI is not necessarily trying to get at that
  • It’s more apparent that it’s an enhanced user experience, that it is useful for the user to better experience these pictures

Fluency

  • On first look, the collage does not provide detail information of each imagery. But when you look closely, you can see that each picture is at least labeled with the author’s usernames; and mousing over them will provide even more context (such as title and other annotations)
  • If your needs for viewing these pictures are just viewing them and recognizing who are the author, then you are not having to switch between going from different pages of each pictures for these metadata. In that, you have fluency of reading into these information

Immersive

  • I think another aspect of the appeal of this layout is that (preferably when you go full screen), you get immersed in this environment of pictures
  • Although, this example, only addresses visual and auditory immersion and not necessarily kinesthetic.

Identity

  • I believe this is a large part of why I really like this form of display, the formation of this ‘justified’ collage in some way shapes me as a photographer (or someone who appreciates photographs).
  • Again, the relations of time and subject sort of addresses my interest in a specific point of time. So maybe you can even say I can visually see a shift in my identity just by looking at what I regard as a ‘Favorite’ over time.

Efficiency

  • The lay out is efficient in allowing the user to browse the different pictures very quickly

Transparent

  • The possible actions include viewing a larger version of the picture, reading the metadata of the picture and perhaps leaving comments. And other than leaving comments, the rest of the actions are fairly transparent – you can perform this actions without diving too deep into the single collage page.

Elegance

  • There is an aesthetic of simplicity in the way the images are displayed.

Ambiguity

  • In the reading, ambiguity is said to “make easy interpretation impossible by creating situations in which people are forced to participate to make meaning of what they experience… The ambiguous design sets the scene for meaning-making but does not prescribe the interpretation.”
  • Again, the interpretation of looking at this collage is not clear-cut. Each person may come away with a different interpretation of this set of imageries. Think Pinterest, which is used by some of us for moodboards, to generate ideas through a variety of interpretations

I think many of may not be correctly interpreted, but I think this exercise does helps me to develop vocabularies to understand why I find this design aesthetically pleasing to me.

[Note: This post was originally shared on my own blog, but I've re-posted here because I thought it might be interesting]

In looking at exemplars of photo sharing and critiquing sites, I’ve attempted to list out the formal qualities of each particular website. In this post I’ll be specifically looking at Flickr. I’ll list out the formal qualities found throughout most of Flickr, focus in on a photo page, look at Flickr groups, and finally try to draw out an interaction style of Flickr.

Formal Qualities of Flickr

Through Flickr the following formal qualities can be found, in no particular order:
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