Friday, July 27, 2007

When Technology Takeovers Impact User Experience

I had a Flickr account. I don't know if I do anymore. It seems that Yahoo is trying to merge Flickr and Yahoo user id's. This is two years after they’ve purchased Flickr for $54 Million. With that many zeroes and timeline, you'd think they'd integrate nicely and create a good user experience. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to follow their instructions so I can't login. I feel as if I'm pretty savvy when it comes to the web, so either I’m now unsavvy or this process is facockt.

It turns out I'm not alone, and I'm not as bad off as others:

...My yahoo account and flickr were merged just fine. Now they are not. I cannot explain it. And when I try to sign in, it sends me to yahoo. Round and round I go. I call yahoo, they tell me to call flickr and give me a phone number that doesn't work. I email flickr and they were kind enough to send me an automated reply promising to get back to me within three days. *stab*

...I have tried various logins and the one login that works only works for Yahoo!. This then tells me that I can merge my Yahoo account with my Flickr account. Only I can't. It doesn't recognise the details that I enter for Flickr.

... So I now have... no account? I try the help files. No luck with any term including the word "Flickr." I could set up a new account, of course, and start from scratch. Bonus points: no contact with Yahoo. So what to do now? Is my Flickr account, years of work, now inaccessible to me? Is anyone from Yahoo listening?

...So, then there is also a message. That you can create a new account. But it is not possible to use the same ID. I remember that I started 2 years ago with a different name on Flickr ‘trendgevoelig' So after struggling for an hour I made a fatal mistake. I connected a new account ‘trendgevoelig' to my Yahoo account. So there it happened. A new completely empty account to my Yahoo ID.

Follow-up from the same guy here.

One interesting thing I found on the Flickr blog itself posted over 2 years ago is them trying to address a lot of concerns they thought people would have from the Yahoo takeover. Sad thing is they knew people feared these things would happen, they promised us that they wouldn't happen, and of course they have. For example:

Do I have to have a Yahoo ID to use Flickr?
No. In the future, you'll be able to log into Flickr using your Yahoo account, but you can continue logging on as before. – If only this were true! Sad that they knew this would be an issue two years ago and still screwed it up.

I liked Flickr BEFORE you even heard of it!
You shall be recognized for your discerning taste in web sites!! I bet you also liked the Flaming Lips before they appeared on Beverly Hills 90210, and for that we salute you. Pro account holders will get super mega bonuses, to be announced soon. – Super mega bonuses? How about just being able to manage my photos?

But I never upgraded!
Free accounts will have more storage and uploads – pro accounts too — AND they'll be cheaper. – Not true. You are limited to a certain number of photo sets. Even worse, if you had a Pro account and move to a free account, you can no longer access those files.

Flickr's tagline is "Flickr Loves You." I don't need to be loved by Flickr, I just want to login. Picasa web albums are not as good, but at least they let me log in. Web 2.0, take me away! (Web 2.0 is the new Calgon). I'm Fckt.


Steve Portigal said...

This was the biggie for flickr, no doubt. But the Yahoo-overlord-impact on the experience continues in other smaller ways.

After being warned that my PRO account was set to expire, I reupped for 2 years. Shortly after that, my flickr screen started having a menu bar for Yahoo above it. Turns out that flickr was detecting my ISP (I'm an SBC/Yahoo customer) via my flickr ID (since this happens no matter where I'm logged in) and giving me a different interface.

I guess as long as I'm an SBC customer, I can get a free PRO account. Although it was taking them many weeks to recognize this for all users, and so I paid up. They'll hold that money for me for when I'm no longer an SBC customer, but really, if I knew it was going to be covered, I wouldn't have paid. Aha!

Lots of folks were complaining about the horrible waste-of-space toolbar that was forced on 'em, and someone created a Firefox script to get rid of it, which I promptly used. People were unhappy, people hacked their product, experience, loyalty, trust, all are decayed.

But hey, they signed a nice co-branding/marketing deal. Good job, folks.

Michael Grossman said...

Decayed Brand. Great way to put it! I can't believe they had the extra energy and money to put into a "detect the ISP" widget, but not enough to put towards enhancing the brand. A lot of emotion here for people who have posted hundreds or thousands of images there to share. Seems like an obvious place where people would feel very strongly about the UX.