London-based Top10 has had a busy first year, with a September 2011 launch for their original web service announced alongside a $3.5 million Series A round, and then a Spotify app released in January that has so far seen users share over a million song recommendations. Now, the startup is refocusing on its web roots, with a new update that changes the focus slightly, away from user curated top tens and towards single picks of all-time favorites in each category the site offers.
Now, instead of building lists of their top pics of things like movies, TV shows, music, tech and people, users can just post their number one pick in any given area, which shows up in an interface not unlike what you’d encounter on Pinterest. The top10 lists are sill there, of course, but they’re now taking data from those “#1s” selected by the site’s users to crowd-source their results. The new approach made sense to Top10, according to co-founder and CEO Tom Leathes not only because of what it hopes to ultimately accomplish, but also because of the usage patterns of its community.
“In our first website, which was about lists, we saw people making lists of just a couple of things,” he explained in an interview. “The interface was so list-focused it wasn’t really enabling that. And also, it’s much better to help people contribute to lots of different topics.”
The site will continue to focus on both top 10 lists and the new number ones feature, and in fact while on the front page the lists are given primacy of place, when you drill down to specific categories the top selections are highlighted first. That’s an intentional strategy on Top10’s part to see what users prefer. Overall, the changes to the website represent an effort to make engagement with the service easier and more social, in the hopes of replicating the company’s success with its Spotify app, which sees a very respectable 20 percent daily return rate from monthly users, on the web. Leathes said that accordingly, the team plans to “do lots of iterations on the design over the next couple months as we get more and more feedback.”
Top10’s new approach resembles efforts by sites like The Wirecutter in some ways, since it offers a way to single out just one thing in any given category. But the crowd-sourced approach and goals of becoming a much more wide-reaching recommendation engine have more in common with approaches taken by others like Hunch and Gdgt. The approach is less sophisticated than some, because in many ways it’s a literal popularity contest, but the ability to follow and share the cumulative (and likely evolving) number one picks of individual users adds an interesting element.
As for device reach, Top10 is banking on a responsive HTML5 site design that should work wherever users come across it, which is ideal according to Leathes because a lot of their traffic comes from Facebook, and you’d drop a lot of conversions when you require inbound traffic from their mobile app to download another app to access and engage with content directly on Top10.
Leathes says that Top10 is still happy with its current funding situation, having raised a sizeable Series A, and isn’t currently looking around for new investment. If it can successfully translate its success with Spotify to the web and grow that audience, that could change as they look to scale.