Photosharing – A Conflict of Interest

Just a photo of kids playing soccer.

Just a photo of kids playing soccer.

This morning I spent time with three of the leading photosharing sites and all three frustrated me. The goal was simple: share a set of photos, less than a hundred, with a small group of individuals. The photos are of kids and the sharers are parents who photographed the entire group and want to share the photos with parents but not with the entire world. Simple task, right?

Yet, none of the three sites I used did this task well. I used Picasa/Google+ and the other parents used the new Flickr and Photobucket. Some problems:

1. The URL is private but the photos are still view-able by anyone.
2. Photos are not available for download in a size I can print.
3. Invitees have to sign up to the service in order to see the album.

This seems like a classic conflict between business goals and the user experience that product managers need to constantly juggle. Here I’m assuming that the desired user experience is to post full size photos to a closed group for free, giving the viewers hassle-free access and download rights.

The business goals, however, don’t support those needs. They’re probably focused on more than page views, such as new user registration, converting users to G+, generating revenue by printing, etc. All seemingly conflict with user needs.

The result: we have many different photosharing sites, with more popping up every month, because users are not happy with current offerings. The new sites offer the ideal solution for a while but then realize that it’s not really a sustainable business model, and desire more. They start placing limits on what users can do.

Rinse. Repeat.

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