Earlier this week Picscout announced a major overhaul of its ImageExchange Firefox extension to improve the UI and make it easier to locate images available for licensing through the service.
The extension connects to PicScouts ImageIRC database of licensable images and scans images that the browser is loading to see which, if any, can be licensed for reuse through the services PicScout represents.
The goal of the new user interface is to make it easier for a designer or other person interested in buying rights to an image to locate photos for their desired use and, though the change is largely a cosmetic one, it actually addresses one of the major concerns I had with the extension when I first reviewed it back in December.
What’s New with ImageExchange
As mentioned above, the changes are primarily cosmetic and designed to make the extension much easier to use. The biggest change is that the new interface gets away from the use of “i” in the corner of licenseable images and, instead, creates a sidebar of images that can be purchased or otherwise be made available for reuse.
This makes it easier and quicker to distinguish images that can be licensed from those where no information is available and it makes quicker to glance through the images that are available without going through the entire content of the page.
The change is currently only for the Firefox version of the plugin though Picscout is planning on updating the Internet Explorer version as well and introduce similar extensions for other browsers (Google Chrome, Safari, etc.) down the road.
An Interesting Trick
Shortly after the announcement, photographer David Sanger pointed out to me an interesting potential use for the extension, tracking down where a site gets its images from.
All one has to do is install the extension, visit Google Image Search and then search for “site:domain.com” to pull up the images on the domain and then have ImageExchange sort through them and see where they came from.
For example, if you perform the search using Plagiarism Today, you’ll quickly learn that this site uses a lot of CC-licensed images. For other sites, you may be able to use this to backtrack the images and see what stock photo sites they favor.
Certainly not a groundbreaking use in helping one track their own content, but a potentially enlightening tool nonetheless.
The change fixes the major usability issue of ImageExchange, not being able to clearly see which images were available and which weren’t. Though, in my experiments, it didn’t find significantly more images than before, I certainly found it easier to locate the ones that it did.
It remains to be seen how widely adopted this extension will be by graphic designers and others who are interested in licensing images, but by making it easier to use, they certainly increase the likelihood that a broader range of potential customers will jump on board.
Hopefully, that is exactly what will happen and, more than anything, this extension can be a tool to get creators thinking about the importance of licensing and the value of doing so.