Bloglovin, a site where readers can follow blogs about fashion and other lifestyle topics, is getting what CEO and co-founder Mattias Swenson said is its first major redesign.
Until now, Swenson said Bloglovin has been adding new features in a more incremental way. This time it’s getting a new look and new social capabilities that the Bloglovin team hopes will please both the hardcore users and more casual visitors.
Bloglovin raised a Series A from New York City-based incubator betaworks and others last summer, and at the time, Swenson emphasized the devotion of the Bloglovin community. For example, he said that the average Bloglovin user follows 37 blogs. He told me yesterday, however, that the team has become aware of a more casual audience, one that doesn’t follow any particular blog or author, but instead is looking for the latest content on topics that interest them.
To improve the experience for those users, Bloglovin has redesigned the page featuring “popular” posts on a given subject. Looking at the old and new pages, I wouldn’t say that it’s a dramatic change, but it allows Bloglovin to pack more stories onto the page without making things feel crowded — I’d say it looks more magazine-y. (It will probably remind some people of Pinterest, and while I think that description gets a little overused nowadays, Swenson doesn’t back away from the comparison.)
Each post on those redesigned pages also displays how many Bloglovin users have “liked” it. Visitors can expand that number into a full list of users. For bloggers, that can provide a much better sense of who likes their content, and for readers, it’s an opportunity to identify users with similar tastes, who they can then follow to find more interesting content: “So we’re turning our users into curators.”
Swenson also compared Bloglovin to Tumblr, where many users don’t produce original content but simply re-post photos that were taken and shared by others. That kind of sharing becomes a way to “express yourself,” he said, and “Bloglovin is going to be the ultimate platform for doing that,” in part because users aren’t limited to following publications on a specific platform (like they are on Tumblr).
“In the beginning, some of our investors were skeptics [about the redesign], but then they showed it to their wives and daughters, and they said, ‘Yeah, let’s do this tomorrow,” he said. I asked why they were skeptical, and he replied, “I think it was more in connection with Google Reader shutting down. … But they realized now is the right time to do these big changes.”
Swenson added that after Google Reader’s demise, the other RSS reading apps are going to be stuck in a “feature war” as they go after the tech-centric audience, whereas Bloglovin could eventually encompass everything and everyone else. For one thing, even though Bloglovin allows users to follow the RSS feeds of their favorite blogs, it doesn’t really market itself as an RSS reader. And the increased emphasis on “discovering the best content” should push the site further in this direction, Swenson said.
Ultimately, he predicted that Bloglovin’s audience, which has grown to 4.7 million monthly active users, will consist of 10 percent “heavy-duty users” and 90 percent visitors “who just have interests that they’re passionate about, like fashion, and they just want to know what’s popular.”