Today StumbleUpon, the most popular social “discovery engine,” is releasing a new and improved version complete with new features and rebranding. Much like Pandora or Netflix, StumbleUpon uses collaborative filtering to serve relevant web content to users.
The purpose behind the new enhancements is to improve the ability to filter content while making it quicker to extract relevant information.
Branding & Logo
StumbleUpon has been one of the most successful social aggregation services to date with more than 20 million users and 1.2 billion “stumbles” each month. The true blue and electric green circular logo has been one of the most recognizable social logos … and today it is changing.
StumbleUpon has streamlined and updated the familiar SU logo and tossed the blue and green color scheme to the curb. The new logo features a sleek white spelling of SU over a bright orange circle. Similar to the previous logo, the SU represents the cyclical format in which StumbleUpon sends users form one article to the next.
Over the next few weeks StumbleUpon will be rolling out the new branding across all of the web badges and buttons. These changes will be server-side so no updates will be required by webmasters.
Streamlined Site Design
Not only has the logo been redesigned, but the entire StumbleUpon site received a facelift, designed to streamline information, make the site more visually appealing, and increase readability. Previous versions of the StumbleUpon website allowed users to customize their look with various colors and custom themes (discontinued Oct. 24) reminiscent of MySpace at times; overwhelming the content and key features of the site. The new site is very minimalistic with the focus being on the content and navigation.
The profile pages are very tidy and resemble the new YouTube upgrade from last week. The navigation can be found on the left side of the page and features connections, comments, interests, channels and more:
Web Bar Enhanced & Officially Becomes” StumbleBar”
When launched back in 2006, StumbleUpon was originally only accessible as a browser extension. This toolbar gives users the ability to vote (aka thumb), share, and comment on content. In 2008, a web-based toolbar was created. Today, the web toolbar has been redesigned, enhanced and officially deemed the “StumbleBar”:
The old version of the bar was much more visual with text, colors, and icons, but the newly-designed bar is dark, minimalistic and looks quite similar to the “old” Google bar that was released earlier this year. The new StumbleBar is simple, yet functional.
Most icons have drop down menus for deeper interaction and the StumbleBar doesn’t get in the way of the content.
Explore Even Easier
While StumbleUpon has always been labeled a “discovery engine,” it hasn’t always been easy finding pertinent information on the site.
The new StumbleBar allows users to explore tens of millions of pages by keyword. Upon entering a keyword, the user can then Stumble content of that genre.
New Brand/Personality Channels
One of the biggest changes in the actual functionality of the service is the addition of channels that allow companies/brands/personalities to curate content. Currently this service is only open to 250 partners, whom include Tom Hanks, Jim Carrey, Starbucks and the History Channel.
The new channel partners act a bit differently than normal StumbleUpon accounts. These channels will have the ability be auto curated by the StumbleUpon staff through their own RSS feeds, others’ feeds and access to authorized images. If brands/personalities would like to manually update their channel that is also an option.
While these new channels will display interests and relevant content of an entity, it isn’t another form of advertising and won’t be replacing Paid Discovery. The StumbleUpon team made it very clear that content from these channels will only be displayed to relevant users and that this new change was implemented to benefit users.
Channels for brands and personalities are currently in test-mode and will be tracked for effectiveness before being rolled out to additional testers.
Will These New Channels Be Successful?
With ill-fated social redesigns like Digg v4 (when they brought more attention to brands/personalities,) I had to ask ”Just how powerful will these channels be?” and “Will users be able to opt out of content from channels?” The answers seemed to favor the community.
First off, unlike Digg, StumbleUpon’s interest graph filter works to make sure all content that a user sees is relevant and warranted. Secondly, content from these channels will not overtake traditional user generated content. StumbleUpon made it clear that private algorithms will ensure brand/celeb channel content that is not rated favorably will be stifled by the algorithms and “secret sauces” behind the scenes. Lastly, users will continue to have the ability to block any domains or usersthat they don’t like - essentially opting out of channel content if they aren’t enjoying it.
Where social sites have typically failed with brands, the new StumbleUpon looks to keep user interests first. The staff stated that they learned form other situations and don’t want to make feeds and brand content “just another firehose” rather study what resonates with users while giving them control of their content.
Those users that don’t like the new look will have the ability to toggle back and forth between the old and new versions for a few weeks. Head to StumbleUpon to see the redesign in action!
- With Its New Explore Box, StumbleUpon Adds Search To Content Discovery
- How To Use Paid Discovery On StumbleUpon To Kickstart Social Campaigns
- StumbleUpon Adds ‘Interest Optimization’ To Paid Discovery
- StumbleUpon: 20 Million Stumblers & Counting
- Infographic: Half-Life Of Social Media Shares