My brother pleaded with me for months to try out StumbleUpon. Please, he would say, I do not ask that much of you, just try it.
Now, I am hooked and have been having the same conversation with my colleagues and friends. The web-based browser’s “personal recommendation engine” truly makes web surfing fun again. Unlike del.icio.us., Digg or Technorati, the site is a more instant and integrative experience. You like something? Click. Thumbs up. You don’t like it, click. Thumbs down. No sign-in process necessary. Not only does it make passing content between users more fun, its technology enables users to discover diverse and sometimes obscure sites or articles they would otherwise have a hard time finding on the web. AND, when you’ve got the FireFox toolbar downloaded, the site functions like a real-time instant message platform where you can comment on articles or pages you like, or simply have a quick back and forth conversation. (See example after the jump).
Tonight StumbleUpon is set to unveil a newly revamped site that won’t require users to download the toolbar. The announcement comes after a sluggish year of growth and rumors that eBay wanted to sell the company (after purchasing for $75 million 16 months ago). Along with the redesign and move away from the plug-in download, StumbleUpon is also launching a partner program that aims to broaden the site’s user base. And, as TechCrunch notes, one of the problems StumbleUpon was finding with attracting and retaining users was that “many users have to actually try it out before they understand what it does (for the uninitiated, it uses an algorithm based on your preferences and other users to direct you to websites that you’ll find interesting).” Exactly the reason my brother had to plead with me to try out the site before rejecting it.
We’ll see tonight if StumbleUpon is able to redesign their page and functionalities without losing loyal users (see my recent article on this topic). In the meantime, please, I don’t ask that much of you, just try it.