I just checked out the new StumbleUpon site, and I am very pleased to report that the redesign they released today is stunning.
Most importantly, the experience I had just now was technically flawless - no floating whales, no bunnies - in fact, the only time I managed to get the Gnawing Bunny to appear was when I purposely searched for something I knew wouldn't be there - and the site still behaved as it should. Investors - StumbleUpon's engineers deserve a steak dinner, and a bonus - nice work, guys.
The other surprise was the fact that the site still feels like StumbleUpon. Why should that surprise me? Because, dear reader, I learned long ago, that with few exceptions, no one wants change more often than brand owners.
Way back in the day, at age 19, I won a radio station competition and ended up working as an advertising copywriter at a major ad agency (George Patterson/Bates in Adelaide, Australia.) Before you can say "where is the next revenue coming from?", I learned very quickly that no one tires of ads, logos, signs, business cards and slogans faster than the client.
It is SO easy to sell a new logo and/or slogan to an ad agency client that there should be a law against it. Seriously.
Want the client to approve a new web site? Just ask them. They've viewed their own web site five gazillion times. And, unlike their customers, who've seen it one millioneth of that amount of times, they are sick to death of it. Does the client want a redesign? A new logo? A new TV ad? A different jingle? Just ask! Ka-ching!
This sad knowledge is why it was so gratifying to go onto StumbleUpon's site and see that they have retained their personality, and enough of the look and feel of old for it not to feel like a new place (unlike, say, Digg, or, ahem, Friendster). This is credit-worthy - that StumbleUpon somehow managed to avoid the temptation to throw away all that is old, and easily-identified by the customer, means they won't find themselves out in the cold, like Digg, who managed to achieve the complete opposite of greater loyalty during their redesign, and alienated technical and non-technical customers alike (the fact Digg apears to have their act together now is too-little, too late, really.)
This all goes to show that StumbleUpon has some smart, long-term thinkers running stratagy. How's this translating to verifiable success on Heardable? StumbleUpon is among our top 1% performing brands, and recently cracked the Top 10 of all listed Social networks on Heardable (we track over 120 social networks, including all the ones you use, plus some you've never heard of, and we run every site in our database against them every time we do a scan - to see them all, just click the link and increase the results shown.)
According to our analysis, StumbleUpon is sitting at #9 with a bullet, with more than 1.2% of all sites we measure linking to them. That number is surely to rise with StumbleUpon's new, much easier to understand, channel strategy for users and brands. Watch this space.