2009 / 13 October

The New StumbleUpon V4… Less Content, More Social

I have raved a lot over the last year about the changes that StumbleUpon has made since it launched it’s 3rd version of the site in November 2008.

The new design brought in a more content focused StumbleUpon, with category pages, recommended content on the review pages, easier discovery of content, share features, increase friends cap, and many other changes that allowed users a better opportunity to see more quality content.

With all the changes, we saw the number of StumbleUpon users jump drastically (up to over 8 million)  and the amount of traffic sent to submitted content was so large that I ended up publishing an article calling it the Stumble Effect, since it dropped one of my servers.

Since they decided to purchase their company back from Ebay, we are now looking at a complete redesign again, but is it all that it is cracked up to be? Lets take a look at StumbleUpon V4: The Friend Maker.

If you read the announcement they posted last week about the coming change, here is what they indicated as the basic coming changes:

  • Redesign more simple, searchable, and social
  • Easier to use
  • Improved site and user profile navigation
  • Improved search based on user ratings and reviews
  • Increased ability to find real-life friends or people living around you

The coming changes in StumbleUpon V4 really focus on connecting with friends and seeing what things they like.

It is almost as if StumbleUpon wants to use content as a way of helping us to all make more real-life friends… which is kind of cool of them in a way, but… lets dive into the changes.

Navigation and Front Page:

The first thing I noticed after viewing the site in V4, was the category navigation was gone and the front page no longer showcased the most popular content anymore.




In almost every social community, a large number of their visits come from people who are not registered or logged in users, so this change really limits the use of the site for anyone not a StumbleUpon user by making them complete 2 or more clicks to see categories and popular content.

If you are logged in and attempt to visit, then you are automatically taken to your subscription’s recent activity –

From the ‘Discover’ area you can find the categories again by selecting from the ‘Topics’ menu or your favorite topics, listed on the right-hand side.

The focus on users is dominant on the category pages as well and for some reason the option to view the content below in ‘Grid’ format is not available.



I think it got overly complicated for people to understand what the difference was for a friend and a subscribers, because in this new version friends are gone and replaced completely by subscribers.

Share feature:

Share feature got a nice little redesign, now popping up on the top of your screen, instead of on the side.


For some reason, it is not available when viewing content in ‘grid’ mode, but that may just be a bug.

There is a ‘start a conversation’ option included in the share feature and I am not sure what that does really. Maybe someone can comment below if they know what it does.

One big change I noticed is the lack of any Twitter or Facebook share options, which used to be integrated throughout the site. Maybe they feel that it is in competition to what they are trying to become?

Popular Content:

It appears that StumbleUpon has decided to change the way it rates the popularity of content as well. If you don’t remember, they actually used to rate the popularity of the content based on the traffic it received. It was not until V3 that they changed to the Star and Featured rating system.

Well in V4 it is back to views again, and actually there is no real indication of a specific submission being popular or not.

Review / Submission Pages:

There are two note-worthy changes to this section.

First, in keeping with the theme of making friends, they moved the list of people who stumbled the content from the sidebar on the right to the main content area of the page.

This change pushes the reviews and comments on the content almost below the fold on the page.


Second, and more importantly, the moved the recommended content box from the main area, and stuck it in the sidebar. They also removed the thumbnail view, which was much more grabbing than the white views button, which blends right into the new simplistic site design.



@brianchappell commented below about one nice new feature that search adds to StumbleUpon: The ability to search by domain, which you could not do before.


However, as he also points out, you have to associate a tag with it, so you are left guessing a little.


Overall StumbleUpon V4 has quite a few interesting changes, but I am a little concerned about the direction being so much about making friends and not as much about finding new content anymore.

I believe a big part of their success over the last year has been due to the introduction of more content through easy to navigate category sections, as well as the recommended content on each review page.

Maybe they just saw the success Twitter and Facebook have had and want some of that glory… But do we really need another site for our friends to connect with us and share content they find?

Want to decide if you like the new StumbleUpon V4 for yourself? Head over to their Try Now page to give it a test run.

  • With all of these changes going on, it would be nice if SU finally let us change our usernames…

  • I would add to all this Brent the fact that you can now search across a site to understand its Stumbling history.

    See an example here:

    This is nice for comp. research when you might be looking to analyze a domain / niche and how their content is doing in SU. This was probably an easy implementation on their end since most of the leg work revolving showing view counts came from the development of

  • Very good point.. Will add above. The one thing I did find about their search was that it didn’t give me what I wanted about 75% of the time. I searched about 20 terms and got a lot of random stuff.  

  • Agreed – felt the same way. A bit tough when things are so reliant on tags. Wish you could just search with the site query operator without having to insert a tag and just see all the results.

    You can see in this example it doesn't work:

  • I want to be able to clear my share cache first and foremost..

  • I war horrified by the changes. I refuse to switch. Do they even have personal profile pages anymore? I couldn't find out how to get to them when I switched. I typed in my profile page name and it redirected to something else.

  • I still think the new stumbleupon needs to improve a few stuff….
    I agree a 100% with the fact I could nearly never find what I was looking for…

  • I left Stumble Upon and joined twitter because of site’s design, difficult navigation and non user-friendliness. Recently I got to see the newer version of stumble upon it really good and very much user-friendly. I appreciate the way they designed the whole site making easy to navigate through profiles and search products, reviews, people etc. I think I’ll stick to stumble upon this time.

  • I feel the same way. It is more about making friends and I can tell by the decline in traffic that I am already seeing with SU. I've spent a lot less time on it because it seems harder to navigate. I'm not thrilled by the changes.

  • I left Stumble Upon and joined twitter because of site’s design, difficult navigation and non user-friendliness. Recently I got to see the newer version of stumble upon it really good and very much user-friendly. I appreciate the way they designed the whole site making easy to navigate through profiles and search products, reviews, people etc. I think I’ll stick to stumble upon this time.

  • I mostly use Stumble to help drive traffic to my site and visit new sites of interest. Since they switched over to the new Stumble, I have gotten not a single hit from Stuble where I used to get hundreds daily. Pretty depressing drop off that has effected my site's traffic.

    In addition, I'm having trouble finding sites myself using Stumble, whereas it used to be a fun application. Plus I'm much more limited on what catagories I can submit an article to. Why change something that worked so well in the past?

    The new Stumble sucks.