Why Flickr is a great web app

I know, I’ve been on about Flickr quite a lot lately. So what, it’s the best web app I’ve come across in a long time. Maybe ever.

There are dozens of web photo sharing applications out there, so why is Flickr better? I believe it’s because it is being designed by people who actually use it, and smartly.  Just when something irritates me, it’s fixed. Must’ve irritated them too and they took care of it.  The site started out too Flash heavy, and everyone rightly complained. Now, it has a great balance of Flash-where-you-need-it and properly-implemented normal web app where you don’t.

Here’s a short list of other things I like, since you asked…

  1. They’re not afraid to put things where they make the most sense, even if it looks funny.

  2. Have you seen the size of some of those fonts!? Whodo thunk you could use a font that big and no one would pass out. Big, readable things I can click easily. Love it.

  3. They pull features that don’t cut it, even though they probably seemed like a good idea at the time.

  4. The developers are responsive and available.

  5. The community features are a great byproduct of the site’s main goal, photo sharing. And they don’t get in your way if you don’t care.

  6. Almost every feature is both useful and usable, and there’s a lot of ‘em. That’s hard to pull off.

  7. The APIs and RSS everywhere. I’m writing a gallery and can think of a half-dozen cool things to do with it. Flickr is a platform. That fact alone will give them the edge. I bet we’ll see a cottage industry spring up of folks creating Flickr-based apps .

It’s not perfect, some things are still awkward or unfinished, and eventually they need to stop moving things around constantly, but for the most part it’s on its way to perfect.

I’ve heard stories of people ditching iPhoto for Flickr. That seems a tad extreme, but it gives one an idea how good a web application can get when done right.