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StumbleUpon Waltzes In With New Toolbar

StumbleUpon Waltzes In With New Toolbar

StumbleUpon has entered a new phase in its effort to help Web surfers find interesting stuff within the massive heaps of content on the Internet. With a new Web-based toolbar, users will no longer have to download and install the site's special plug-in. Also, a partner program will allow users to "stumble" around within a specific site, digging up intriguing content both new and old.

By Walaika Haskins TechNewsWorld ECT News Network
10/01/08 1:36 PM PT

Online discovery service StumbleUpon has changed the way its users can access the service. The company announced a new partner program Tuesday and also unveiled a new Web-based toolbar that no longer requires users to register or download the specific StumbleUpon Toolbar, a task that may have turned some would-be users away in the past.

The changes are part of an effort by StumbleUpon to offer a new user experience, said Michael Buhr, general manager of StumbleUpon.

"We're beginning to roll out a new user experience on StumbleUpon.com that will improve the discovery experience with more relevant content and topic-based navigation to provide an easy way to discover content in a particular area," he told TechNewsWorld.

Stumbling Around

eBay acquired the San Francisco-based site in 2007 for some US$75 million. StumbleUpon's personalized recommendation engine delivers more than 350 million Stumbles every month to its more than 6 million members, according to Buhr.

Web site publishers frequently have hordes of content on their sites, and much of it winds up buried on pages that do not receive regular traffic and cannot be easily discovered through a simple search.

The site's new partner program is designed to help partners develop a more engaged relationship with their users, allowing them to find a wide variety of content within the partner site. It will enable users to Stumble within sites such as HuffingtonPost.com or HowStuffWorks.com, giving them the opportunity to discover new and interesting content that is also personally relevant.

"One of the first tools featured in the partner program is partner StumbleThru. This tool allows partners to enable their users to Stumble exclusively within that partner's site. We believe that this will increase the effectiveness and appeal of these sites, generating more user engagement both in terms of pages viewed and time spent," Buhr explained.

To Stumble in a partner site, users will click on the "Stumble!" badge, which triggers a navigation tool that provides pertinent content from within the site. The functionality is similar to the StumbleThru feature on the Stumble Toolbar. It enables users to Stumble through a particular Web site rather than the entire Web.

In the coming weeks, the service will expand its partner program to RollingStone.com and NationalGeographic.com.

Free Stumbling

The StumbleUpon Toolbar has been downloaded over 11 million times; however, those rates had begun to slow. When the company combined that fact with user feedback requesting a toolbar-free way to Stumble, they began developing a new way to Stumble.

With its new Web-based browser toolbar, StumbleUpon hopes to free users from having to register or download the StumbleUpon Toolbar, offering true portability of the service.

"With the tremendous proliferation of content on the Web, "Stumbling beyond the toolbar will provide the ability for even more users to discover highly relevant and engaging content that they might not otherwise come across," Buhr noted.

"We'll also offer a new format for user reviews, rating and comments, which will provide users with even more insight from like-minded friends," he said.


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