A New Look For usv.com
A few weeks ago, Nick came into my office and asked if I thought we could get more engagement out of the new usv.com. He felt that we’d succeeded on the transition from a blog to a link blog, but we had not succeeded in really stimulating discussions at the new usv.com. He had some ideas on how to address that and we batted them around. I encouraged him to follow his instincts.
He then posted this thread on usv.com and got a ton of feedback on it. And so for the past few weeks, he’s been iterating on the usv.com front page. This past Monday, Nick and Brian did some more work, came up with the “cards” thing and Nick was excited. For the past few days, I’ve been encouraging him to “ship it.” He did that last night.Check it out.
For those of you who did not click on that link, here is what it looks like:
The big changes are:
– Infinite scroll. This is something I’ve wanted since day one. I am so happy.
– All posts on the front page. No posts hidden behind the new tab anymore.
– Posts are bracketed by days. So each day you can come and see everything that was posted on the previous day to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
– Posts are inside a “card” that shows the poster, tags, comments, bumps, the link, and for the most popular posts, a blurb from the poster about the link.
– The left and right columns have been switched.
– Search is now prominently featured at the top. Yesssss.
So that’s it. I’ve been using this new UI for the past two weeks and I can’t imagine using the old one anymore. I like it way better. I hope you all do too.
how do traffic volumes compare to here?
too early to tell. we just pushed out the new look last night.
oh, i see what you are asking.avc got 252k visits from 156k uvs and drove 340k page views last 30 days usv got 52k visits from 32k uvs and drove 103k page views last 30 days i would bet that there is a ton of overlap between the two audiences
what’s most interesting is usv.com used to get 20k visits a month on average and now it gets 50k visits a month on averagei would bet it will get >100k visits a month by the end of this year, maybe as soon as this summerso the move from a blog to a link blog seems like it worked pretty well avc is >10 years old. it has had a long time to built its audience
thanks. i rarely go there, although i think these changes will change that.
The infinite scroll is great and I like the way the cards look, although it does feel a little noisier. (I tend to like the minimalism of HN-esque single links.) But I think this is a good way to bridge the two. Plus on mobile, viewing it in portrait mode gives you the classic experience if you want it. Nice work.
thanks Blair. i agree that we’ve traded efficiency (HN) for more engagement Nick calls it Tumblr vs Twitter
I’ll take engagement any day.That being said, people don’t cruise old post as often as you might think (my experience).But some posts (using usv as ex) have amazing legs and should be bookmarked in some way possibly–Bitcoin as protocol, design discussion, the reading list one.You design for engagement and sometimes, iconic discussions surface. How do these stay top of access.
Two ideas we are pursuing on that Arnold1) we have the “most active in the last five days” thing in the left column under search2) we are thinking about “pinning” a post at the top sometimes
I like the pinning idea.Was intriguing reading the ‘books’ post.I consume information like a vacuum all day every day.I disconnect, work, read, engage on a different level. For those that write or post or comment, we bring the deeper thinking to the stream in bits and splashes.How can the stream of information create building blocks of permanent referential knowledge is an idea that has intrigued lately. And I think is germane to usv.com possibly.
pinning as voting (likes)?
‘I’ll be back’ in a day after I use it Fred.First glance:-infinite scroll is how it should be. Natural state of curiosity unhampered.-search is what we do. this is where it should be-card thingee is novel and interesting. Need to let it sink in.-reversing columns is bold. Can’t decide whether I’m recalibrating or fighting it as yet.
that’s exactly where i was one minute in 🙂
Do you cap the height of a card to a fixed # of lines so that lengthy ones don’t overtake the space?
Great iterative & customer development work by Nick. You’ve leapfrogged HackerNews.I’m getting the sense that original Question-Posts are getting lots of engagement, eg What USV is reading & Feedback on USV.comSo it’s more than link posts & maybe these Q Posts might gradually become more dominant, over time. They typically generate good discussions.
Mimicked some of this thinking at the same time. Good stuff.To me, it’s not the format it’s the topic. Q & A sites bore me.Topics that create a engaging context work because of the context not the format, especially in sites like usv.
Well, with a Question, the author has more freedom of creativity A post is dictated by its subject already. But, you’re right, at the end it’s the topic itself that strikes a cord or not.
The best posts are usually questions of course.The web is littered with fading and brilliant formats.The winning platforms are invariably somewhat flawed and messy, but capture something that just makes it work.
yes it’s true — there is no question that the most engaging posts have been questions. have to noodle on that some more but it does seem to be the case so far
Thanks for the update – I have been away from USV for a few days…..infinite scroll – Yes agree – I wish Disqus could do this as well, my recollection on AVC is that at one time – there was an infinite comment scroll.Search – it was there but hidden…..when the initial refresh was launched, I remember sending Nick & Fred an email saying they needed to add a search button, it was there but hidden in the bottom nav.
Good job! I think your forecast is accurate.
“I’ve been using this new UI for the past two weeks and I can’t imagine using the old one anymore.”– I know *exactly* how this feels as I am sure so many others here do as well. Congrats on the upgrade.
I rarely go to the USV homepage. Generally, I start here at AVC and then I find interesting things in the USV conversation sidebar widget. That’s my leaping off point.
But today, most of the entries on the sidebar are months old….hmm?
fixed. we broke some things when we pushed the new codebase
yes. that means the widget has value. i am trying to decide if i should keep it on the new avc.com
Please keep it there. Cross pollination and content discovery FTW.
Nick- small nit pick on mobile: the responsive design is throwing the Search at the bottom of the screen. Is that intended? I would rather like to see it on top, personally.
that’s a bug – will fix.
As an FYI, looks like individual threads are getting cut off when looked at on an iPad. Image attached
ah great – thanks for the heads up. will fix.
And iphoneReading oneor two words on a line at Fivefive am ispainful.
yeah, sorry abt that — fixed (as far as I know — if not let me know)
No prob. Great work! Inspired me to give the site another shot, and I really enjoyed a lot of threads and will certainly be returning. Exactly what you want out of a redesign!
fixed thanks. Nothing like real-time debugging on the comments section!
And as is my bent, I really like that usv doesn’t have any advertising.When advertising is additive, I’ll be a fan. It just ain’t it almost every case and distracts.
There’s a lot of advertising there…but it’s in the form of content and paid for via the attention of and to the community…so it’s advertising, but done well.
Smart. Clever. Aspirationally correct.Actually though, not.The idea of people providing value as they want things from their connections and community–hell yeah. We all try to do it all day long.The idea of companies acting the same–maybe it happens sometimes. Almost never by intent.The social web is about people. Companies aspire to play on even keel, but honestly, not often.
What are you talking about?? USV is the ad.Can we call that native advertising? 🙂
USV.com is actually is a hopeful (and me thinks probable) community platform for information and idea exchange.That’s marketing at its best, as a natural state and advertising not at all 😉
It’s okay to admit it’s a form of advertising. 😉
You’ll never convince me Matt!
It feels to native to be advertising, right? 😉
Marketing and advertising are not the same thing.Marketing and community platforms and ads are like apples and styrofoam.
beating the point to death.i believe and practice that marketing done right is a service to the customer.i’ve never built a business or brand on the back of advertising. not a fan.
So what I am having trouble I suppose then is identifying or labelling the common element(s) that marketing and advertising share. Brand exposure perhaps?Edit: Changed “comment” to “common”
that’s a big question.my advice is–why consider advertising at all until you have a reason to? and most companies, not mega brands of course, never do. even ppc is no longer in the realm of the cost effective for most key word targetable sectors or products.
i thought the avatars were ads. no?
Not to me.They are putting a face on a conversation. I don’t pay attention nor remember unless there is something that connects with me. Or if there is something that continually grates of course;)
man bites dog sells :-)wondering what the unit of advertising would be here?
it doesn’t have advertising because it IS advertising 🙂
I just took the new usv for a spin on my mobile phone. Great experience.
thanks, glad you like it!
Infinite Scroll is a great improvement but it’s difficult to chase the footer if needed.
yes we need to address that. likely by just taking everything out of the footer
Ugh. Hate it.Get that you like it though – there is 1000 things to look at all at once.Its the web site version of riding the subway to instantly experience the diversity of humanity.
U check it on ur phone?
No, I am old and I still do a lot of things through a browser (Safari, no less) on my MacBook Air.
Take some ginger before you open it with safari on the iPhone.
Sorry, that was a caching issue w our style sheet; fixed now.
I see your point Nick, but not sure that is a compliment. The brilliance of AVC is that the bartender (Fred) provides the starting point to a conversation and is great at asking questions. There is loose control of a wide variety of topics. Knuckleheads can only reach the comment level and can quickly be dispatched by William (if needed).With the subway approach on the home page anybody does anything and one needs to look through 10 things to get a nugget. No curation.That said, many great elements to the new site, don’t mean to understate that.
Sorry, this comment was meant in response to:Ha that last line is a high compliment to me….
totally understand, and I said that with my tongue in my cheekthere is still a fair bit of curation going on on the USV site (posts bubbling to the top based on comments, votes, etc). So the hope is to get a rhythm going where we can bring some focus to the discussions that make it to the top.This is all an experiment so we will see how it goes.
I have a feeling it is going to go just fine!Re”This is all an experiment…”So true, as is the whole web!
Ha that last line is a high complement to me 🙂
I know you are experimenting and that you are a sharp guy Nick……but, just in case……not a compliment ;-)I have never heard of a subway car receiving a legitimate (not a design industry wank off) design award. You?
I know… It’s just that I happen to believe strongly that the subways are hugely important in the alchemy that makes cities great.there is not any other place where people of all shapes/sizes/colors/classes bump elbows and share experiences. to my mind it’s the thing that makes NYC a civilized place and LA a soulless wasteland.I am not entirely sure the analogy fits here an I think that’s probably not the angle you were going after, but this just happens to be something I think about / care about a lot.That said, I also believe in and admire elegant design, and by no means do I think that what we’ve done so far w USV.com is perfect. So I am all ears w feedback, and expect to keep tuning it to help it work better.
An old friend of my runs a successful MarComm design shop. After 20 years, I thought it was worthwhile to ask him:What’s the difference b/t a $4000 project & a $40,000 project?”Client’s understanding of their needs.”;-)
I take the red line from hollywood to dtla five days a week. so do many other souls.
There’s a lot to love about this latest update…but perhaps the most awesome of all the awesome is the ‘more in X tag’ bit within a card (highlighted in the attached screen shot)…so so awesome.
On a just barely related note, I signed up for Uber this week (heading into TO this w/e & don’t want to imbibe & drive).The UX is very nice.In particular, there is a function that allows you to input your CC by taking a picture of it. Thought that little thing was very slick – one of those things you tell other people about.
Noooo Barf- the layout (once you open a card) on the iPhone is awful. The changing font sizes and streams of indentation are flat out nauseating. Why the right justification combined with responsive design?
I think the indentation you were seeing was a css caching bug that I just cleared up. Let me know if that fixes at least that part of it for you
Will do (sorry to be so rough 🙂 )
No sweat — there was actually a problem with our initial deployment which exposed a bunch of previously fixed layout bugs, which should be resolved now.
On a totally unrelated note, I have the Seahawks over the Broncos. Going against the grain, I have it a low scoring affair: SEA 17, DEN 14.
Like it a lot better. Easy to post and tweet too.
Curious. What’s USV trying to accomplish? What problem is the page solving, and for whom? What’s the value proposition for visitors?Perhaps I am just an outlier that still uses RSS and subscribes to 300 blogs.. I have checked out the USV page 2-3 times over the last few months, and I have never seen a reason to go back. Just trying to be helpful 🙂
conversations with entrepreneurs are the life blood of our business. it is where most of our opportunities start. RSS is great for reading. not so great for talking.
Exactly- I come to USV for the convo not the articles. The web is now a giant city and places like USV are great bars in the neighborhood. The level of engagement and feedback available to entrepreneurs through sites like USV as well as twitter and any blog powered by Disqus is powerful. Instead of waiting months to meet people with valuable insight [still important] anybody can post an idea and instantly gauge interest, get feedback, have a conversation and then go back to building. I don’t know how entrepreneurs did this in the 80s and 90s
> I don’t know …They saved a lot of time and concentrated on building!
You have to be careful not to wrongly plan for optimizing for Result B (desired), when in fact a higher Result A leads to future higher Result B.
Being a highly visual learner, a chart would be helpful right about now.
Basically visualize A/B testing. The short-term might show A as the right answer, when the long-term will result in B being the right answer for desired effect. So if you optimize to immediately increase A, you might be doing that and sacrificing the better long-term impact on B.
Wow. Do you actually have someone at USV that reads ALL of comments?Do you actually see much value in all these conversations? Fred, I tend to believemany of us enjoy following your posts (as I do), not only because they areinsightful (as so many comments on your posts are), but primarily because yourwords carry weight [especially when you speak about debated issues (like Bitcoinetc.)]. In addition, because you meet and interact with so many brilliantentrepreneurs, you have unique perspective and data, and so your predictions aboutthe future and “where things are going” have higher probability to be fulfilled.
i think many of us read all of the comments.
well, have they gotten interesting
conversations are two-sided. RSS is the most efficient way to hear Side One…first. (Twitter would need Gmail-like noise filters to generate the signal-to-noise ratio that RSS achieves.)
300 blogs? i wonder if micro payments would change that number? money as a filter has some virtue.
You can subscribe to 300 blogs, but only 20-30 posts come up a day. With RSS, the entire daily routine takes 15-20 minutes. I click into blogs like AVC to read the comments. However, AVC is one of the few sites where the comments are as good or better than the posts.
ok, so 300 blogs, but not all are posting daily like our host. that makes sense. i could not imagine 300 blogs each generating one new post every day. that would be a career.
It’s great when someone posts a link with their initial comments — the comments are what usually invite me to click through their link. It’s now easier to see this. I like it.
There’s something off with the design. Unless I spend a bunch of time testing a bunch of different looks I won’t figure it out.Maybe it’s as simple as needing to pick all rounded corners vs. rounded and right angles, and perhaps trying to keep similar content bound within boxes, instead of floating. This takes additional work once you start, as you have to make sure all boundary containers have good spacing and visual layering though.I could spend a year writing about design. I’d quite enjoy that. Maybe I will align that for once it’s in my best interest to help people understanding good design practices, hierarchical design, layering, spacing, the gravity and pull of design elements, etc..
Agree.And I’ve said this before – the avatars are distracting as currently placed.On avc.com the avatars aren’t distracting because of the general size of the text blocks (and threads) as well as the type color (which is or appears to be black). So the offsetting works fine.Would take experimentation  one thought is to move the avatars flush left of the @twittername and increase that block large enough to include the avatar.Note to disqus: Need a way when hitting edit to remove an image or add an image. Why I actually can design and tweak things myself because that way I can move around and do visually what I can’t easily explain to an artist.
– Move the title flush to the avatar as well (aligned with @fredwilson: and “A love letter to Tumblr)- Move the “www.avc.com” URL aligned below the titleThere’s no need to show the tags either.Designers and developers always prefer getting mockups to confirm – it’s like an equation with a question/answer … allows for verification.
Well obviously this is all a matter of taste (all artists are different right?) but if I had to tell you why my mockup makes more sense to me it’s because the box that I created allows better and less distressing eye flow. In my design the avatar is actually to large (but I didn’t want to take any more time and scale it).Your mockup of course is definitely better than (and helps for sure) with the issues that bothered me on the current page.A true mockup would have to have a complete page flow of info since my issue is with a bunch of items viewed in sequence not any individual one (but neither of us is going to take the time to re-mock 20 posts but Nick can of course do that since he’s got the code. And it’s his job.).Our discussion raises an interesting idea which is creating a site which allows designers to do mockups and compare design ideas. (Would have to include actual tools so people don’t have to use their desktop tools). Perhaps a voting system. (Not thinking voting is good definitely after all it assumes the people who vote have a clue but I thought I’d mention. Like me deciding if you are doing yoga correctly (I wouldn’t know..)) Or choosing a good wine.
Regarding the interesting idea … Platforms exist and are beginning to exist which could facilitate this, though that behaviour doesn’t really seem to happen. I think the reason is mostly people aren’t incentivized to spend the time and energy; It’s a teacher-student relationship in certain ways. Good if the problem can be solved.
I didn’t actually realize until now the “A love letter to Tumblr” text was the expanded version. That won’t work for most of the posts to USV as their length seems to be much longer than that.
The update looks great – that should help engagement/commenting.I’m not a big fan of infinite scroll personally. I’m sure I’m in the minority on this one but I prefer a beginning and end to a page.I just posted a couple of new links – Super Bowl-themed of course.
one thing we really like about this new design is grouping by day. So it’s not just a straight up infinite scroll of posts, but actually an infinite scroll that pulls posts up one day at a time.So, scan today’s posts and get to the bottom, you’re automatically presented with yesterday’s posts. and so on.Re: super bowl, I was at a meeting yesterday w deputy mayors from a bunch of US cities, and the guy from Denver had lost a bet w someone on his team and gave his presentation wearing a patriot’s jersey…. (of course he got the last laugh on that one)
I actually noticed that about the the “line breaks” between days.That’s slick and not what you typically see in infinite scrolling – nicely done.You would think the outcome of the game would supersede any previous bet – too funny.
Do I really have to log in with Twitter to bump something up etc? I’m already logged into Disqus. I think this may have already been brought up in another post but it’s the first time I have tried to do something and the friction stopped me.
yeah that is something we have had a lot of thoughts aboutwe are really happy using twitter for identity, and using disqus for comments.but it certainly a bit odd to have two parallel identity systems.one thought from the hip is that maybe we should actually use disqus auth for bumping posts up, since that is actually more like commenting than it is like posting. I will think about that.
I’d prefer the option to choose my identity provider but I can understand why you are happy with Twitter.
I’ve said it before but I wonder why you can’t use disqus auth for making posts.
i like the way you’ve sliced up your portfolio, by stage, year, category, location. perhaps it was already like this, but i hadn’t seen it. those tag clouds as hack graphs would look good.series A is your bread and butter.
that was new when we relaunched usv back in Oct. i think its awesome too
For whatever reason, I thought of this today. Back in the 20’s, when the possibility of smashing the atom was more than speculation, physicists from all over the world, studying under Sommerfeld in Munich, frequented the cafes. They were known to scribble on the tables as they talked. One, the Cafe Luta, had strict instructions from management to NOT wipe off a table that had scribbling unless they had permission. Turns out the next day, you would find someone seeing an unresolved scribble and would supply the answer.It is a matter of patience allowing evolution of people sharing concepts and even being humble enough to ask for help that collaboration can accelerate things ranging from apps, media and even something Quantum.Someone just has to supply the platform.
Trying to finish robot project with school kids for tournament tomorrow. Last night, a young man, Zachious, showed me where he was on CodeAcademy thanking me once again. I replied, “Just think, no matter what, it’s yours!”At this point, I have him on basics and have two more doing the actual for autonomy.
I hate infinite scrollCan I just say that – it makes it difficult to find what I am looking for sometimes with ctrl-f.You think it is there, and then you come back, and it isn’t..BlehOther than that 🙂
If search is good enough, then it’ll work … though that requires remembering at least some of the main keywords..
it is more than I am annoyed that the webpage plays a trick on me
At’s a lot’s a HTML, CSS, and JS.Do you type in all that or do you have some softwaretools to generate it?
if u go to usv.com right now all you see is 1 post (Today) with a lot of blank space underneath. perhaps this is a result of each days posts being grouped and not appearing until you scroll down. it’s tremendously disorienting when you do click the scroll bar and get whacked with all that content and lose your spot on the page. infinite scrolling always seems to do that to me. then i have to scroll up to find where i was. it seems like a good feature that isn’t ready for primetime yet.
yup. i have asked Nick to fix that.
interesting…I think they have a ways to go with improving the search bit. There’s at least one other contributor to the open source project who has been pushing a search plugin from his company [not me] — I would add in the gawk.it stuff, but just haven’t had time as I’ve been 100% on Coach Wizard efforts for the past few months (gawk.it has been running well without my involvement really for almost 6 months now).Regardless – great search term!
Cloud tags, as a rule, are useless on the web.
Great insights Charlie.
Just a list of cloud tags might be better instead of1) taking up so much visual space,2) killing the flow of reading down a list as all other content currently does in that column.#bitcoin (175) #mobile (139)#startups (132) #vc (79)#startup (58) #google (57)#education (53) #privacy (51)#marketing (48) #android (40)#entrepreneurship (39) #apple (39)#facebook (36) #twitter (34) #cloud (33)#security (30) #health (29) #media (28)#growth (28) #funding (28)#technology (27) #pitch (27) #design (27)#amazon (26)Likely best to only include the top 5-10.The problem then arises they will always be the same.The solution then is to create a Trending algorithm. Determine how many posts you should use based on deciding on what a minimum number of tags need to be included, and then determine the Trending list on that.Have a link to “Show all tags” which should go to a pop-up, and not go to a new page – as a person is just checking out what the tags are – and more than not likely will want to immediately return to the content they were just looking at.
Many people believe that he will win and then the End Of Time will occur, as he has clearly sold his soul to the Devil, to be that good.There is some proof of this theory – http://www.highlighthub.com…
.Wrong, the second coming will apparently be in OMAHA?JLM.
There’s no need for prominence, though they have use for deep search purposes – most of us never have a need for this though.
“Trending” tags are interesting.
yeah we haven’t put much thought into the tag display yet, but l do like them for exposing past posts. but you are definitely right about the current display
Indeed, quite overwhelming; Right below it I mentioned to only include top 5-10.
I agree with you Nick the cloud tags are useful
You have to remember you’re a super-power-user.
trending list is interesting.Cloud tags are one of those design ideas that design people know should work….except they don’t.Visual layout is not for scanning. Scanning is limited for the vast majority of people: they can scan text quickly but cannot scan visual objects. A list they can scan; a cloud tag makes their head hurt.The faster you can scan, in a non-visual mode, the more a cloud tag makes your head hurt. So, if you are trying to look smart, tell people how much you hate cloud tags.People like Fred – people who communicate visually @ a high rate – are rare. Most people store information visually but cannot communicate visually.I like to think of it this way: pictures are the boxes on the shelves of your mental warehouse; words (spoken or written) are the forklifts; smells (oddly enough) are the best RFID beacons.For Fred, pictures are the boxes and the forklifts.