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Interactive Annual 16:
experimental

Compfight

Launch Live Site

“An incredibly useful tool and an aesthetically pleasing layout—simple as that.” —Rachel Pasqua

“The bane of all art directors—not having time or budget for a photo shoot; the fear of all creatives—hitting a wall and trying to find inspiration. Compfight is a smart, fun, utilitarian answer to moving through rafts of data (in this case photos) with guile and great reward in the results.” —Glen Sheehan


Overview: Compfight is a visual inspiration search engine. Flickr, the world’s largest photo community, boasts four billion user-tagged photos. Acknowledging that user-generated tags make for superior photo hunting, this powerful tool distills Flickr into a massively searchable photo repository. Sporting deceptively simple user interaction methods—stripped out is the extraneous functionality included in other image search engines—the site allows users to rapidly comb Flickr for specific content (at a clip of 200,000 unique searches per day). A persistent navigation model combats browser-size constraints with a semi-transparent header and footer that never leave the user’s view, allowing access to search functionality and pagination at all times.

  • • It took three months to get the site to an early phase prototype and a month more of user testing before the interactive experience was refined enough to launch.
  • • Twitter is used as a simple cms for updating users with news on the site.
  • • Growth has been purely organic with 10,000 delicious bookmarks, and over 20,000 references on media outlets including a number of high profile blogs. In early November, Compfight exceeded 15 million visitors.

Comments by Ryan Teuscher

Is the audience you were targeting a particularly difficult one to reach? “Our intended audience of creative professionals are naturally early adopters. What’s impressive is the number of other industries and groups that adapt the site for alternative needs. For instance, educators and students now represent a large percentage of our user base with teachers using it to inspire their students through new media presentations and students articulating ideas through imagery found on the site.”

Did you learn anything new during the process? “This was our first foray into developing a product solely dependent on third-party information. A number of creative ideas were left out of the final concept due to licensing limitations. The challenge is in ensuring that the rights of content creators remain protected. However many successful commercial projects now blur the lines between content creation and content curation (redefining user-generated content is creation in itself), designers take on liability by utilizing user-generated content.”

Did you meet with any out-of-the-ordinary obstacles during development? “Unlike many of our other projects, this Web application focuses squarely on efficiency. It requires an abundance of resources to keep it speedy with over a million server requests per day. At the time of the site’s inception, Ruby on Rails was in its infancy. Bleeding-edge technology, like Rails, is extremely challenging to manage in an economical production environment. A few days after launch, the site was picked up by a number of social media outlets. Within hours we had to move the site to new hosting, in order to provide a consistent experience.”

Credits

Ryan Teuscher (San Francisco, CA), interface designer/project design and development
Bryan Denman, strategy
Bryan Denman/Ryan Teuscher, principals
Andrew Kapsick, programmer


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