photobucket-redesignPeople love taking photos. Even more than that, people love sharing said photos. With so many ways to capture life’s moments — smartphones, DSLRs, point-and-shoots, or (shudder), tablets — creating and storing a coherent digital canvas can become overwhelming. There are a number of sites that let you both store and share pictures, but nothing quite as elegant and feature rich as the revamped Photobucket.

Bold new look

Photobucket went straight to the source of the platform’s most vocal critics when production for the redesign began: its users. In a survey conducted with InfoTrends, the company found that two-thirds of respondents — you, me, mom, dad — said their digital photo library was pitifully disorganized. This is because A) Competing platforms don’t have intuitive solutions, or B) People were too lazy to keep their libraries up-to-date.

The new look and feel of Photobucket is like an immaculate scrap book, with an enormous amount of options to sift through. Not only is the process of managing, sharing, and backing up your photos and video streamlined, but Photobucket gives users an endless amount of options to edit their photos with effects, adjustments, text, etc.

The overall grid view of an album is nothing out of the ordinary by today’s standards, especially for ardent Facebook users, but it’s very clean and easy to digest. Each photo displays “likes” and comments, acting as a sort of quasi social network. In fact, you are always presented with the option to share individual photos or album to other, more popular social networks — the big ones being Twitter and Facebook.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to tag friends by face, so users will still need to rely on services like Facebook for that level of interactivity. You can, however, invite friends to contribute to your Photobucket Stories (more on this later) and, as always, people can comment.

And bold new direction

Aside from being billed as your one-stop-shop for “backing up, organizing and accessing all your photos and videos,” the redesigned experience is preparing to introduce “Photobucket Stories.” Basically, the feature is designed to equip people with a platform to better tell visual narratives. Instead of looking at a grid of photos, or at a listed blog post, Photobucket has created a Timeline-esque service (but rather than from top to bottom, Stories are from left to right) that lets people arrange photos in a storyboard.

Photobucket Stories gives users complete control over their content. Pictures can be sized and displayed in a way — kind of like highlighting an event on your Facebook’s Timeline — that makes the really important photos standout, while the quieter moments are displayed as small stacked squares. Each photo can be edited to include text, as always, and you can even break the photos up with a card of text only, allowing users to better form their stories.

“Our all-new user experience, combined with the exclusive “Photobucket Stories” feature, can, quite simply, help us all tell our stories and preserve them over time,” said Tom Munro, CEO of Photobucket. The platform currently has over 100 million users, which is quite a lot of stories to tell.

photobucket-redesign-editing-optionsWhy should you use it?

Keeping track of photos, whether they’re on your device, computer or social network, is tough. I have a device full of pictures that accumulate by the day, and always managing them — uploading, editing, organizing — on multiple services can be exhausting. The all-new Photobucket is designed with all the features you care about, while requiring little to no effort from the end user.

So in addition to creating a more engaging feel, you can setup automatic uploads of both photo and video from your PC and/or mobile devices. And if you only want to share a story with a few select friends, you have complete and utter control over what is shared, when and where. There are also a number of creative editing tools as I mentioned (that always give you the option to save the original).

Ideas from other platforms have been put into a box to marinate, and the new Photobucket is the result. If you’re already part of the platform, you’ve just been given huge incentive to stick around, and even more tools to help you create more substantial visual memories. If Flickr isn’t your thing, or if Facebook’s (or Google+’s) photo options don’t meet your needs, Photobucket is a wonderful place to store your memories.

The public beta is live right now, but you need an invite to explore Photobucket’s new wares. The plan is to collect user feedback, after which the team will go back and fix/add/refine in order to provide the best possible product. From what I’ve seen and experienced so far, Photobucket’s new platform is making a pretty convincing argument for where users should store their digital life.