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Feedback on Startup: Simple, fast photo sharing (photosleeve.com)
21 points by delconte on July 11, 2008 | hide | past | web | favorite | 27 comments

At Photosleeve we're trying to eliminate the photo workflow. We've made it so that you can plug in your camera, and a few minutes later have an email full of your photos that you can share. No more manual copying, resizing, rotating, uploading, backing-up, etc. Just one step.

We recently enabled signups and are looking for feedback. Here are some specifics:

* We use a two-stage upload process so we can satisfy instant gratification and give lasting peace of mind. First, smaller versions of your photos are uploaded so that you can share quickly. Once that's done we back up your original photo data to S3. You can use the originals for printing, or just so you can stop worrying about your hard drive crashing and taking your photos with it.

* You can upload photos from your camera to email/web in a single step (copies, rotates, resizes, uploads, sends email) using the Windows desktop app

* Alternatively, you can upload using the web-uploader, which also resizes photos before uploading them, and does it all right within your browser (uses Silverlight + Flash)

* We'll send you an email with thumbnails of your photos right in it (HTML mail) that you can forward to people without clogging their inboxes

* You can use drag-and-drop within your browser to create albums, export to Facebook, order prints, create another email, etc. You can try some actions on our demo site, http://www.photosleeve.com/user/demo/album/eiffel-tower

If you're curious about what we've used to build Photosleeve, check out our credits page, http://www.photosleeve.com/credits

Feel free to give us feedback on any aspect of the site.

One thing Derek failed to mention that might be interesting to the HN set: we're using Catalyst, which is a Perl-based MVC framework. It's a little unorthodox, as the popular choices these days seem to be RoR and django.

We've been really happy with Catalyst, especially its Chained dispatch type. And CPAN has been really helpful since there's just the two of us working on this right now. :-)

Catalyst has an active mailing list and IRC channel full of helpful people. For more information, check out http://www.catalystframework.org/.

As the author of Catalyst::DispatchType::Chained, thanks!

I think most of us in the Cat community consider it a secret weapon - it's not optimised for simple, fast stuff like rails is and it's not optimised for content sites like Django is but it scales really nicely to large projects and CPAN helps keep them from getting too large in the first place.

Nice. jrockway would be happy to hear that.

I'm debating whether to do my new app in Django in order to learn Python or do it in Catalyst as I already know Perl.

Play with both.

Perl and python are very different languages. They're both good. You might find you're vastly more productive in python. I'm vastly more productive in Perl.

(declaration of bias: I'm a Catalyst core team member and would be delighted to see you on #catalyst on irc.perl.org :)

If you already know perl, then there's no reason not to use Catalyst. While it's lacking in the shiny marketing (build a blog in 5 minutes) that other frameworks seem to like, it's a good bit more flexible in terms of your choices of Models and Views, and in the way that you can present dispatch logic than other frameworks.

I have few questions that I always ask when people want review on their startup:

What is your revenue model?

Why would people pick your service instead of one of your core competitors?

Here's a Catalyst screencast on how to quickly create a form: http://letsgetdugg.com/view/Catalyst_with_FormBuilder_screen...

Also, there's a WikiVS entry on Catalyst vs. Rails: http://www.wikivs.com/wiki/Catalyst_vs_Ruby_on_Rails

No specific feedback on the startup, but I don't care for it when folks send images via email. Put it online, where I have more control.

I guess I do have advice: why not focus on a 1-click way for getting images onto a webpage they can email to their friends?

(But I can understand how complex it can be for some folks to figure out how to get images to their family and friends.)

In fact, that's precisely what we do. It's easy to see how you might have gotten the wrong impression, since our front page is deliberately light on technical details.

We're trying to bridge the gap between tech-savvy photo sharing -- using web pages and not clogging up people's inboxes -- and the vast majority of people who don't understand URLs and just want to see the pictures.

Our tool creates a web page that's under the user's control, just like you say, and it simply sends out an email that links to the page. But in an HTML-capable mail reader, you also get a nice grid of image links to the photo thumbnails. (Click a thumb goes to the larger version on the web.)

Hopefully, it's the best of both worlds. My mom (she's not a focus group) gets to see the pictures, and she doesn't need to remember a URL to go to or tell other people about. On the other hand, I don't have to wait five minutes for gnus to download her enormous photo attachments.

Yes, it's the best of both worlds. I implemented it on http://ourdoings.com/ in November, 2004. It has been one of the most exciting features.

You mom should totally be in your focus group.

I wasn't kidding. :) The advice in that blog post is fine if users like your mom are not going to be part of your target audience, or if she'll use it just because she's your mom. But if you send her to the homepage and she can't figure it out, I think thats a great focus group. If she's not technical (obviously, I don't know your mom) and she thinks its a breeze, you've done an incredible job. I won't say more, since having conversations about people's mothers never seem to turn out good, but in this case, I think it would be great to see how your mom uses it. Note that I said "how she uses it," not if she likes it. Of course your mom will like it :) Er, hopefully.

One thing that is a little confusing about the site are the images at the bottom: They are too zoomed in... Are these images meant to be abstract? It's almost like a puzzle to figure out what they are:

- The leftmost image: Just plug in your camera... Wait, didn't you skip the step where I install something on my computer? "Just plug in your camera and click share"... How will my computer know to send the images to your site? The image is a closeup of what will appear on a Windows XP computer. What about the Apple/Mac guy, or the Vista guy? What will they see?

It also has a link to the uploader app install description... But nothing near the link implies that. It appears the link tells you how to plug in your camera. Pretty misleading.

The uploader description then has only screenshots for Windows XP. If I have any other operating system, I am switching away from your site right about now...

- Ok, the second picture on the bottom. What is it a closeup of? Why do you closeup on nearly identical images? Is your site going to make four copies of every one of my pictures? Why? The topic of that is that you can forward the grid to whomever you like, but as I read that I am thinking about the significance of you having put up four, at first sight, identical Eiffel Towers. Zoom out the image, use different pictures (babies, animals, cars, etc...) and let it be obvious we are looking at the actual grid we are sending out.

- Third picture (sorry they are all misleading :-) !). WTF is that doing there? Do I actually now drag my pictures to that area that quite clearly says "drag photos here"? It appears not to be a screenshot at first. I have NO freeking idea what the screenshot if of, all I know is that I want to drag my photos to the stupid image that tells me to do so. I am guessing it is an area of your uploader... I don't know because I have not installed it yet (And you have not told me I have to install anything). This image is simply confusing. You only mention drag and drop near the bottom.

- Fourth area... OK, I know XP so I know that is a status icon saying I am uploading photos. But the text talks about how you upload full size photos. Not the best image you could have for this.

Hehe, I don't mean to come down hard on you, but the design of the main page could be better, aside from the thing I mentioned before, I truly have no freekin idea if you guys work with O/Ses other than XP.

You need to mention what OSes you support, you need to provide instructions with screenshots for each OS, And you need screenshots of at least the full window people are looking at, it is not the right time to present the user with a jigsaw puzzle of partial screen area images.

Too many shots of the Eiffel Tower. People don't shoot 24 photos of the same thing (and then run off to share them), at least not people to whom you are aiming your site.

Lastly :-)... you need a cleaner web design overall... Compare your site to smugmug.com, for example.

This is all meant to be constructive feedback, by the way. I would not waste the time it took to write this on trashing someone else. You guys are doing well, you just need minor adjustments.

EDIT: As a wannabe photographer I will ask you this: Why are your images all square? Do you resize them to be so? Practically no camera I know takes square photos... Will you crop my photos if I upload them to your site? Either don't use perfectly square photos in your samples, or tell me if you will modify my photos when I upload them.

Thanks for the feedback. This is exactly the kind of detailed feedback we were hoping for.

A revised landing page is in the works. You gave us a ton more to think about :)

RE: squares. We do create square thumbnails (it lets us fit a lot more on a page, especially at 1024x768). Clicking the thumbnails goes to a larger, correctly aspected version, and of course there's the original photo data as well.

yeah, I thought the repeated photographs were weird too, made me think I wasn't getting the idea or something. I would replace them with a set of photographs that are obviously related. Tell a small story. A lot of work, sure, but its your home page, make them good, even if they are a tiny part of a screen shot. This is where you get people's attention. You have the Eiffel Tower, what about other scenes from Paris or Europe as if the person was traveling? After all, people will identify with travel photographs, and hence identify with you (its one of the psychological points of selling, make yourself seem similar to the customer).

Any reason you don't support OpenID as well as username/passwords? It would eliminate a step from your already short signup process, and would support your goal of being "hassle-free".

How about "Try it now" instead of "Join now"? Also, how about more varied and colorful pictures on the front page?

Thanks for the feedback. Good point about the front page photos.

Under your Terms of Service, under the indemnification heading, the word covenants is spelled incorrectly.

Fixed (modulu caching). Thanks!

modulu caching?

Sorry, odd wording I picked up from my college. What I meant was, I fixed it, but you might not see it right away because of various caches.

instead of "Get photos from your camera to an email in one step." how about a simple flow chart with pictures, a camera plugged into computer then the computer with a gmail icon up on it... pictures speak easier than words... I also agree with the unzooming of the photos.

Sweet favicon reminds me of... http://bricabox.com/

nice domain name and concept!

This software should be built into WiFi and standard digital cameras!

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