Well here I am on ipernity, not quite another Flickr refugee but more of a Flickr doubter.

I've been using a Pro account on Flickr since 2008 and I've had a great time posting pictures up, looking at other people's pictures and searching for pictures to invite into the Flickr Group, "Forestry Harvesting and Forwarding Equipment", where I'm one of the joint admins.

However when Flickr changed into their new display format and new pricing structure I didn't like either the way it was done, what they did or the way the future looked for Flickr. Since ipernity was mentioned a lot on the Flickr help forums I came over here liked what I saw.

Probably the easiest thing to do is to go back and say why I don't like the new Flickr.

When Flickr changed the way they displayed pictures they did it with no warning. They had a test site with a test set of users, the "Bucket Group", running for a short while before the change but even though the feedback was pretty hostile to the new format they went and changed it for everyone anyway. That's the first thing I disliked about the new Flickr.

When they changed the way the site looked they also changed the buttons and links which accessed the functions on the site. So not only was there a new look there was also a new Graphical User Interface (GUI). People found that all the old familiar ways to access functions on the site had gone and there was a whole new interface to learn. What Flickr didn't do was to give anyone any help on how to use this new GUI. There were no additional help files or howto's or a chance to switch between old and new interfaces to give people time to get used to the new one. It all happened in one single change with no warning and no help files to aid people to use the new interface.

I worked out how to use the new interface fairly fast but then again I've been involved in using computers for my entire working life and I've used some pretty horrendous user interfaces on other programs, program interfaces written by engineers for engineers where usability and the idea that users should have an intuitive understanding of the interface were both alien concepts. The new interface for Flickr was bad. It had switched from written menu items and links to graphic icons such as the three white dots "..." which users were now magically meant to understand was a clickable link to a menu. I actually wrote a list for Flickr and put it on the help forum to detail what was wrong.

1. A huge banner on the Photostream, Sets, Favorites and Galleries pages which eats up about a quarter of the usable browser space but it's not on Map, Recent Activity, Stats or Organize. It doesn't show up on any of the Contacts sub-menus, Communities sub-menus or Explore sub-menus. In fact it's in exactly the wrong places. It shows up, eating screen space, in the very places which are designed to show your photographs, sets, Favorites and Galleries to others. It has no purpose and it gets in the way so get rid of it.

2. Justified continuous scrolling. It removes titles and descriptions from the photostream and it eats bandwidth. What genius thought it was a good idea to leave links to the help and information pages at the bottom of an infinite scroll? Also in continuous scroll if your connection to the net isn't that fast which is probably most of us home users you can see that there are still page links at the bottom of everyone's photostreams. Click on one and you can jump to a specific page so the code is still in there. Again who left them there in an infinite scroll? It's only because the load times are so slow that you get enough time to get the mouse down and click them.

3. Sets. I chose appropriate pictures for the icons for my sets and they've been cropped rather than reduced to thumbnails. On top of that the titles and descriptions of the sets have gone.

4. User interface. Before the change my collections came up on the right. Now non-Flickr users have to guess that three dots "..." mean that a) that's a clickable area on the site and b) that I have sets and collections to go to. Three dots? Even if it was three dots in a defined, obvious button rather than sitting on the top of the huge banner but it doesn't even have that visual pointer to the fact that it hides a menu of actions.

5. The display of the individual pictures. They're now all on black with location, title, description, comments, tags and license info hidden below the line. There's a lot of black unused space on either side of each picture which contributes nothing. Why isn't the info placed in there instead of below. The little map which used to show location at a glance is also gone and has been replaced by a text link. So what was the design philosophy behind this site. The old "Actions" button has been replace by three dots, text to icon, but the old map icon has been replaced by text which is icon to text. Confused? You will be.

There is however some method in the madness in the way the new site was designed and the new accounts were devised even though there was none in the way the new design was dropped onto Flickr users without warning.

Flickr has been in ignored for years by its owners Yahoo but they now have a new CEO Marissa Mayer who wants to do something with Flickr. Flickr missed out on being the, "social network" site to Facebook even though it was there before Facebook. Flickr missed out on the idea of integrating a picture uploader app onto mobile devices while Instagram and Facebook both stepped in to fill the gap. Flickr could have been the video site but Youtube took that crown. Flickr is the "could have been" of the internet but now Yahoo have belatedly woken up and are trying to muscle their way into a market which Facebook and Instagram and Youtube have already sewn up and that is the use of mobile devices to take and upload video and pictures onto the internet.

That's why there's now a big blank black bar on each side of a picture on Flickr now. That's so people can use their fingers to tap forward and back on the photostream of pictures that someone has up on Flickr. That's why there's the justified infinity scroll to display pictures on Flickr now so that it looks like the other picture sites when used on a mobile device. That's why there's now a terabyte of storage and no 200 picture limit for free users because they need a hook to try and entice mobile users away from the current services on the internet.

Pro users and their subscriptions are not part of this market strategy. It's all about attracting in younger mobile users who can be targeted with adverts to generate advertising revenue.

At the same time Yahoo bought Tumblr, another picture site on the internet. So now they have two picture sites. One which they've ignored for several years and a new one which they've just bought for over a billion dollars. I think this is why the new Flickr interface was such a disaster. They decided to change Flickr on the day of the Tumblr announcement even though the new look and interface was incomplete, buggy, pretty much untested and had no accompanying documentation or help files for users. The "upgrade" of the site was done as a marketing job to make it look more "social-media" for this new demographic and it was done in a hurry to get it done for the day of the announcement. Any site upgrade which not only hammers the bandwidth of its users but also of the companies own servers due to the high resolution infinity scroll design decision must deserve an award for design screw-up of the year.

So why am I here on ipernity? I dropped my Pro account on Flickr and converted it to a free account because the only advantage of a Pro Account is that it still has statistics on who's looking at your pictures and what pages or search terms brought them there. A Pro account on Flickr had unlimited storage and a free account only has 1TB but at my rate of picture upload I won't fill that terabyte for 200 years so for me it's effectively unlimited anyway. Stats I miss but they weren't that great anyway as more and more links don't provide referring information which lets you see the page or search term used to find your pictures and I didn't see the point in paying just for stats. I used the money I would have paid to Flickr to get a club account on ipernity.

I've kept my old account active on Flickr but I really wanted a second home for my pictures. Flickr may have got a new look but peer under the hood at the organizer or any other function on Flickr and the new look is only skin-deep. No money or time has been expended on upgrading the functionality on Flickr as all they've done is a badly done paint job on an old chassis. That's the first worrying point. The second worrying point is that Yahoo bought Tumblr. After ignoring their prime picture site for years they've just bought another for over a billion dollars. It doesn't matter what is said now the drive to integrate the two sites and to try and recover that billion dollar cost with savings on the back ends of both sites will be a corporate imperative and once the back end systems are integrated it will only be a matter of time before Tumblr and Flickr become a single site. The new marketing strategy for Flickr is also a "hail mary pass" as the Americans would say. They've switched off their subscription revenue stream and are banking on new mobile users to increase the advertising revenues on the site to make up the difference and beyond. If that strategy fails then Flickr is in big trouble quite apart from Tumblr looming on the horizon.

I'm not sure how long Flickr is going to survive and I like the look of ipernity. In some ways this is not only my second home but my lifeboat.