The past few weeks have been busy for the people over at StumbleUpon and its users alike. Just a few weeks ago, StumbleUpon lifted the 200 friend max from its user base and added a subscribe feature. On Wednesday my favorite social community announced that there were yet more changes to their discovery/recommendation engine.
This new user experience is being called “beyond the toolbar”. Not only do you not need to download a toolbar, but you actually don’t even need to be registered with StumbleUpon to stumble anymore. This is really a “new user” experience. Let’s check it out.
Note: if you are logged in, the home page looks different unless you are part of the beta testing group.
I was trying to figure out a rhyme or reason as to how the recommended sites end up there. After clicking around and seeing the discovery origin of some of those sites, the only common factor I found was that they were all old. Most had been discovered in 2006.
The new home page now displays a category navigation bar at the top that displays hot sites within that particular topic. The sites listed on this page do move around a bit, but how to get your page on there is still not clear to me. I happen to know one of the bloggers with a site on there and he did say that he hasn’t seen any increase in traffic. Granted, I don’t think most people know about this yet.
This is my favorite addition so far. You can simply hover over the avatars and see whether or not the user is an active stumbler (someone who’s stumbled a lot of pages). This will save time when trying to find users to friend and subscribe to.
The Non Toolbar
When you click on one of the sites from the home page or category pages, you’ll get a temporary toolbar. From there you can stumble through the category you were originally in or go back to StumbleUpon. And yes, you can only thumb up. If you click on the stars to review the site it will take you to the site’s review page which is where the fun stops. In order to review, you have to be registered.
The other aspect of “beyond the toolbar” is partner sites. StumbleUpon has partnered with sites that display a voting button. Right now membership into the partner program is by invitation only and it’s likely that acceptance will have to do with how many URLs in your site have been submitted by SU members over the years. The more the better I’d imagine so the pages would already have lots of thumbs up. Today Huffington Post and How Stuff Works are the two partner sites listed.
At a glance this looks like one button. What is somewhat unclear is that you can vote from the top of the button, but if you click on the lower half you will begin stumbling through the same site. The SU logo on the left doesn’t do anything, so in my opinion, they need to work on this a little.
After you vote that you like it you get this and can begin stumbling through the site you are on.
New Profile Page
If you are in the beta testing group at StumbleUpon you will see the new profile page. It lists the user stats on the bottom right, but in general looks similar enough to the old one that I don’t mind the change. One thing I noticed that was missing right away was the online indicator. If you want more info on the beta testing group, send a message to bookun via his profile.
There has been a lot of talk and speculation recently about eBay wanting to get rid of StumbleUpon, but until anything happens I am not going to stop using it. With over 6 million users contributing to over 350 million stumbles per month, it’ll be interesting to watch that number climb over the next few months. I really like the changes and I think overall it is a positive move on their part. As with any change there are usually varied opinions out there. I will leave you with some quotes on the new StumbleUpon from some notable internet marketers across the web.
- Brent Csutoras “I am actually very impressed with the change at StumbleUpon. They have finally decided to let users participate in the site without having to install the toolbar. I really like the organization of the categories (or tags) and the navigational bar makes it much easier to explore and use the site. They seem to have taken all the good changes other social media sites have made and put them to good use on what has to be one of the best relaunches of an existing service to date.”
- Chris Winfield “I think it will really help StumbleUpon gain more acceptance by the general public. A lot of people are either (1) not technical enough to install the toolbar & get the idea behind or (2) wary of toolbars with all of their spyware concerns. This should really help them gain more mainstream adoption.”
- Michael Gray “I like the on page stumble button that shows you the thumbs up count, but the stumble through lower portion of the button is confusing. The mini frame that sits on top of websites is clean and easy to use, but there needs to be a way to activate, if you don’t go through partner sites first. I also feel if they went with a Stumble through and thumbs up button similar to the way delicious buttons work they would make things easier for power users.”
- Brian Wallace “The site on first glance seems to be less about the power users now. This may feel like a shame for those that have put extensive effort into their SU profile, yet breathes new life into a social network that was starting lose ground to the likes of Propeller and Reddit.”
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.