On Wednesday, Feb 1, 2012, we published an article discussing some changes StumbleUpon made during their recent redesign which removed source links from their content pages and forced all users to view content from the site through an iframed toolbar, which they could not close if they were logged in.
One of the things I have always really loved about StumbleUpon is that unlike many social communities, they listen to their users and always try to move the site forward based on user feedback and testing.
After publishing the story, StumbleUpon reached out to me in an effort to explain the changes and to show that they were not just casual decisions they implemented without thought.
I was joined by Mike Mayzel (Director of Communications), Marc Leibowitz (VP of Business Development and Marketing), and Xian Ke (Senior Product Manager), who took the time to understand where I was coming from, listen to suggestions, and give detailed explanations on why the changes where made.
Why Remove Source Links From Info Pages?
Interestingly, only about 1/3 of all StumbleUpon users have the toolbar or some sort of addon installed, while the majority of users have neither and depend on the StumbleBar to keep showing them fresh content.
During testing and user feedback sessions, many users expressed concern that when they clicked on the links from StumbleUpon Info Pages, they were not getting the experience they expected from the site.
They wanted to have the StumbleUpon toolbar and options, so that they could rate the content, comment, and continue viewing other pages in the system. When they found themselves on the source’s site, they were forced to back into StumbleUpon to continue the experience.
“The current implementation was designed to mitigate user confusion about clicking to third party links from StumbleUpon.com (i.e. will they or won’t they be able to continue Stumbling from the pages they clicked on via the web StumbleBar).”
During the conversation, we discussed some potential solutions and the importance of having source links. The team indicated that they will be “working on adding in direct links that refer back to the source content in a way that minimizes user confusion.”
iFraming Source Content Without An Easy Way To Close The StumbleBar
Again, with the clear number of people who use the iframed toolbar on StumbleUpon (based on StumbleUpons figures), it seems a valid point that they need some way to allow the majority of their users the ability to participate in the site and iframing the content with their toolbar seems like the only option outside of requiring the toolbar be installed in their browser.
As for not allowing people to exit the StumbleBar use, they seem to have a pretty good reason for that as well.
“Under the prior implementation, signed in users accidentally clicked on the X after which there is no way to return back to StumbleUpon.com and resume Stumbling. As a result, we updated the StumbleBar to minimize accidental closures by signed in users. Users can still sign out via the gears menu. As has always been the case, non signed in users can exit the web StumbleBar by clicking the X.”
Some interesting options were discussed, including an option to potentially hide the StumbleBar and also “providing the source link (underlying url) in one of the second level menus (e.g. share, comments or gears).”
The team at StumbleUpon made it very clear in the conversation that they had spent a considerable amount of time listening to user feedback before making the changes. They were also very clear that this is the first version of the changes, and that they would continue to review user feedback, test, and make tweaks as needed.
Do you have an opinion on the changes or thoughts on how they could improve on the current implementation? Please add your comments below, as StumbleUpon definitely reads them and takes them into consideration.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.