My apologies for getting late to the party on mentioning the new design of iStockphoto here.  I just got back from the family vacation, two weeks to Washington D.C. and Virginia Beach, with a little Colonial Williamsburg thrown in for fun.  Let it be known, thou shalt not bring an empty Camelbak Water Bottle to the Capitol building.  For some unknown reason, BPA free plastic around a small volume of air strikes fear in the hearts of the guys in blue.  I digress.  We had a great time, and returned to 100 degree temperatures in St. Louis.

While I was on the drive back, iStockphoto released Phase 1 of it’s new site redesign and re-architecture.  It’s been 4 years since the last redesign, and the site was feeling a bit dated, and you definitely had the feel some stuff was starting to get tacked on here and there.

What you’re looking at is the first of several phases of a redesign and rebuild that will continue well into 2011. Today we’ve put the new structure in place. Future phases will address and perfect different parts of that structure, starting with a further iteration of the search this fall. On the whole though, we feel that the new site serves our customers needs better than the old one did.

You have to hand it to them, as far as technical issues went.  There weren’t any major issues.  The site came back up and worked pretty flawlessly as far as the basic functionality went.  Things were moved around, and there are a lot of design and UI concerns, but being able to find and license an image is priority one and working, and that’s 98% of my concern.

There are some things that buyers should take note of.  Right away, you’ll see your status bar at the bottom of the screen, locked in place.  Your credits, account balance, etc.  (old site first, new site second, below)

You’ll also notice the site UI features a black and white “color” scheme.  You can have any color you like, however, as long as it is black.  No changing UI skin colors (currently).

In the above image, you can also see snazzy new links to splash pages for each offered file type.  These got a big graphic relayout and are pretty hot looking.

Another thing that will probably confuse at first is that, when doing a search, the sort return option is at the top right of the page (age, best match, etc.), but other options are at the bottom left.  Most notably “Display Options” which hides buttons to show download numbers, artists name, etc.  Also, the pulldown to choose number of images returned is down there.

One of the best things about this refresh, is that changing the file type boxes on the side, or changing the sort type, will actually auto-refresh the screen with your new choices.  That is awesome.  That is the one feature that I’m sure buyers will love, love, love (or just say “About time!” ;) ).

Unfortunately for those cost-conscious buyers, a bug seems to affect the ability to permanently turn off the higher priced Vetta images from the search return.  You’ll need to set this every time, currently, until fixed.  That option is in the “Advanced Search” options, which doesn’t appear until after you’ve done a search.  Search is the priority in Phase 2, so some of this will be changed in the future.

I think those are the three major things that will affect buyers.  You can check the bug thread for lots of things about white space, or the “retro” images on the right side of the forum, etc.  For more information, check out the iStock Guide to F5.

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