PhotoBox Blog

by PhotoBox

New Site: Graham Hobson – Head of Technology

Hope your holiday weekend went well – it sure made a change to see the sun down here in the south.

I have decided to make a post to address some of the issues highlighted on this blog. As you are all aware we have launched a new version of our website to mixed responses. First the history: our old site was in operation for nearly 8 years. At the beginning of 2007 we started to build a replacement site. We wanted it to be a new platform to offer great new features and products to our customers for the next 5 years and beyond, and to make it easy for all users: pro and novice.

That site started to appear for some UK users during April and is now active for all of you.

To date we have received feedback from a number of different groups: a group of UK members who we migrated during April, survey response from UK members migrated over the past week and feedback from members migrated in France and Germany over the past few months. Generally the feedback has been positive, with only 16% of UK respondents preferring the old site. We have also seen record levels of ordering activity.

But clearly, based on your feedback below, many of you on this blog feel unhappy about some aspects of the new site. I am confident that we are already on the way to addressing many of these points.

The challenge now is to set some priorities, and make changes to the new site where necessary in order to respond to your feedback, and to improve the service further. Whilst we have an ambitious plan going forward, the plan for immediate improvements in the next month or so is pretty clear, so I thought I’d let you know what’s coming up.

Pixellated thumbnail images

This was caused by the process of moving over to the new site, which uses larger images (so your smaller images looked “fuzzy” when displayed in a larger space). We had several hundred million photos to convert but that process should be completed by Thursday this week. Please be assured that the original, full-res image has not been changed in any way by the move to the new site.

Album sharing

Again, there’s been problems caused by some people being still on the old site. Everyone with shared albums will be fully migrated by the end of the week, at which point all albums shared with you will be there for you to view again.

Large-quantity photo orders

It’s clear this and performance have been your main concerns. You should therefore know that we plan to go live with an improved way of ordering prints in the next 2 weeks. This will reintroduce the features you have expressed concern about, specifically, the ability to tick one, many or all images in the basket, then rotate, resize, delete or shrink-to-fit all of them in one click. We’ll also be introducing larger thumbnails during the ordering process so that cropping effects are easier to see.

Performance

Originally we designed the new site to be very “active” and to work much more like a desktop application supporting features like drag-n-drop and content updating without having to load a new page. Unfortunately some browsers support this type of site better than others and we know that the performance is unacceptable for some of the people posting below. We are doing a bit of a U-turn on this based on recent feedback.

You should expect a progressive improvement in performance of the new site starting with a major step at the end of this month. Our old site was causing us a few headaches towards the end, but it was fast so we set ourselves a hard standard to live up to. It may take us a little while to get back to normal, but I’m positive we’ll get to the performance you want soon.

Postcards

Finally, we’ll be steadily bringing in great new products and bringing back some old ones, the first of which being postcards later this month. Apologies for the delay, but I hope you’ll like the new version, which will have all the old features, plus more.

There’s much more to come of course, but I hope you’ve found this post useful. Either Mark or I will update again soon. Anybody out there who knows us will already be certain we’re completely focussed on making the new site as successful as the old one. We’re equally certain we’ll get there!

I appreciate that is has been a frustrating time but please be assured that we do agonise over every piece of negative feedback, and will do our absolute best to create the new PhotoBox that you all want. And we do very much appreciate your feedback. You are telling us what our priorities are for the period ahead.