Just when you thought designers had finished whiting out the web – check: gmails makeover – the designers at the ever popular discovery engine StumbleUpon are rolling out a major makeover. While a heap of the updating is cosmetic, there are definitely shufflings going on behind the StumbleUpon console. For instance, the service sports a new orange logo, and a new design which looks suspiciously like YouTube’s makeover?. StumbleUpon, a Web site that finds and recommends Web content to its users, launched several new changes this week as part of a major makeover, there is more to come. The renovations so far include a rebranded logo, a redesigned Web site, and a new “Channels” feature that let users subscribe to content streams curated by brands and celebrities.
Most exciting for content creators is the addition of Stumble Channels, currently in beta, but soon to be live. These are channels hand-curated around a certain topic. The selections here can be selected by brands, celebrities or StumbleUpon staff. All links are verified by staff. This feature will not be a part of StumbleUpon’s discovery algorithm.
It seems that StumbleUpon is joining the curated lists bandwagon. This new feature loosely resembles Tumblr’s curated tags feature. The design is sleek, and on the surface it looks like a great way to discover things that are curated by human and not by machine. But the real question is, will it be successful?
The site currently has more than 250 channels. Audi, ESPN and Vanity Fair are some of the brands that have their own channels, as well as actress Nicole Kidman and venture capitalist Mark Suster. By “following” a Channel, users receive updates based on their interests rather than all of the Channel’s content.
In addition to giving brands a home, StumbleUpon also added a function called the Explore Box that lets users enter keywords to search for a specific topic rather than just a broad category. According to a company statement, more changes will be rolled out in the coming weeks.
“Discovery is becoming a bigger part of how people spend their time online,” said StumbleUpon CEO and cofounder Garrett Camp in a statement. “The new StumbleUpon makes it easier than ever to discover new and interesting things from across the Web“
Founded in 2001, the San Francisco-based company helps people discover online content based on their selected interests. Users click a “stumble” button to find new Web sites and then have the option of voting and commenting on the selection. StumbleUpon was acquired by eBay in 2007 for $75 million. Two years later, Camp, his co-founder Geoff Smith, and other investors bought the company back and took it private again. In October, the company announced that it had reached 20 million active users and had more than 1 billion “stumbles” per month.
Lots of traffic passes through StumbleUpon, but what will it take for people to look at these curated channels? And will it be worth looking at these channels if they’re not powered by StumbleUpon’s algorithm?
That will be key. News organizations and other content creators push content on StumbleUpon because the service has a ton of traffic. But, will the StumbleUpon brand be strong enough for people to take a look at something that’s a little different?
For this to succeed, these content channels will have to be integrated into the service’s popular browser bar. Who knows if that will actually happen, since this seems like an attempt to draw more traffic to StumbleUpon’s physical website. But for many, there’s nothing easier than hitting that StumbleUpon button.
We’ll have to wait and see if this new feature will be a worthwhile one for news organizations to look into.