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Alan Schaaf (Founder/CEO of Imgur) interview from March 2011.

Alan Schaaf Founder CEO of Imgur interview from March 2011

Source: IdeaMensch

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Alan Schaaf created Imgur in 2009 as an undergrad at Ohio University. In two years it became an Alexa top-200 site, serving 120 million images every day in March 2011. (In November 2012 it's now serving more than a billion images every day.)

He seems like a great guy.

Here are the highlights of the interview:

What are you working on right now?

Imgur’s focus has always been on developing the easiest and fastest image sharing platform on the web, and we’re working on making it even better. This includes new ways to upload and manage your images, as well as view and interact with other peoples images.

Three trends that excite you?

1. Image Sharing. 2. Rage Comics. 3. Lolcats.

How do you bring ideas to life?

At the time, he was a one-man show so Imgur evolved as fast as he could build. He listened a lot to contact me and user suggestions.

What inspires you?

"Really cool and useful web apps inspire and motivate me. From small things like online color scheme pickers to huge operations like Twitter and Tumblr, anything that’s really simple and works great without getting in your way is inspiring. I try to take what I learn from other simple things and put the same concepts into Imgur."

What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?

"This isn’t just one mistake, but something I’ve learned is that once a feature is in place and works a specific way, then it’s really hard to change it without upsetting your entire user base. Even something small such as changing the location of a button from one side of the page to the other has flooded my inbox from upset users. Once people learn how to do something then they don’t want to ever have to relearn it. This is completely understandable, but it’s led to a few mistakes and upset users in the past."

"There’s an interesting story about this same phenomenon from eBay. Apparently, when eBay first launched, they had a yellow background. Eventually they wanted to change it to a white background, which is what you see now, but just changing it overnight led to a user outcry. People were literally lost without their yellow background. So what eBay did was write some code to gradually change the color to white over the course of a year. By the end of the year, people never realized it was even yellow to begin with. What this means to me is that I need to be really careful with how I do things, and I’d better have a good reason to change the way something works."

No one wants to have to re-learn anything.

Ain't nobody got time for that.

not just "users." 

I don't follow. What do you mean?

 Not just "users" in a user interface don't want to have to re-learn anything. People don't want to have to re-learn or learn new skills.

Why is that?

I find it exhilarating to learn something new but clearly I'm in the minority.

I should re-phrase that to "learning as mastery." Learning is easy and fun, mastery is hard.

Gong Fua -- mastery through time and effort. 

Mastery is hard. That is why it is worthwhile.

He has a great I created Imgur AMA on Reddit...

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