Flickr’s fruit at the bottom

A few new features at Flickr, including the highly-useful-but-not-immediately-obvious inline editing of picture titles (hover over the title of one of you pictures and click to rename, just like on your dekstop, very handy) but the one that caught my eye was the introduction of a task-oriented, mini sitemap on the bottom of every page.

Flickrbottom_1

This is something that I tried to get done while at the BBC, as an unobtrusive wayfinding strategy for the entire http://www.bbc.co.uk site. We (Gee-Kay, Byju and myself) got as far as paper-prototyping and user-testing the idea before hitting the wall of unavailability of resources and internal politics that often stops such things in such places.

The idea continued in a limited form in the iCan project, where we (Priya, Helen, Julie, Andy and myself) used the bottom-of-the-page reference design for a ‘cycling’ pattern of recent visited links and common tasks.

The bottom-of-the-page wayfinding idea was one that I first came across from Peter at PoorButHappy, and was struck by how simple and effective it was.

For what it’s worth, here’s a presentation that I used to try and sell the idea internally in the BBC, including user-test results.

» Download locatedness.ppt [2.3mb powerpoint]

I shared it with Stewart at the time (as we were arguing about spatial metaphors in navigation and wayfinding*) and he told me this week he remembered reading it while waiting for his car to get fixed in SF. Hopefully it contributed, and I’ll be receiving my Flickr options shortly… ;-p

The Ludicorp team continue to astound with their rate of innovation and invention. Well done all there!

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Bonus link… while excavating BBJ for wayfinding links, found this reference to a Sylloge post from 2001… more evidence of Flickr’s RNA?

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UPDATE: Peter’s entry on the same topic.

0 comments
  1. henry said:

    what a shame the bods at the beeb decided to pass. it seems to me that this ‘wayfinding’ is essential for such a large site as bbc.co.uk

  2. Yeah, I was wondering why picture titles were turning yellow. When I clicked it, my response was “whoah, cool!”

    To some extent, the wayfinder panel at the foot seems to have been lumped there under beta until they figure out a stable architecture for everything. But it does work, it does help out quickly get to all those many options.

    I am loving Flickr.

  3. I’m a kind of middling fan of the new Flickr bar, but I don’t think it’s because of the concept or the implementation. I think it’s because it’s the right thing to do but exposes some of Flickr’s few shortcomings. I spent a while trying to find the Calendar on it – for example – which doesn’t appear to be there. So it’s not comprehensive, and if you were looking for the calendar could be potentially confusing.

    It’s interesting that you mention the BBC in this context because I think the same problems hold true with the BBC’s potential use of bottom sitemaps (and indeed with the BBC’s homepage) and with Flickr – ie. fundamentally the question is not whether not you expose the sitemap or what you put on the homepage but whether or not the site has a sufficiently clear and well articulated structure. If the structure / architecture is strong and clear in the first place then it’s a fairly simple job to articulate that on a homepage and a really easy job and useful job to expose the structure on each and every page.

  4. Just want to clarify with regards to Flickr that I think their slight problems with site structure are known and understood by the people involved and that I think they are an unfortunate (but not massively unpleassant) side-effect of the extremely positive, powerful and functional iterative style of development that they’ve been undertaking. Basically the benefits of the approach far outweight the costs, and Flickr remains one of the few sites that I visit every day without fail and get genuinely excited about on a daily basis.

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