Shall We Prop Up

I have been using Propeller for quite some time now, and have always felt propeller to be a great source for quality traffic and weighted link from a search engine optimization stand point. I did however always feel there was a lot of functionality missing from Propeller.

There seemed to be a limited about of social aspects to the property and have always wished they would drive down the road of bring in more social elements to the property.

Propeller has recently gone through some major changes which include the aesthetics of the property, changes to their user interface, and additional functionality. Let’s take detailed look at what Propeller done with their recent overhauls.

The first thing that I noticed with the new interface of Propeller was there is a lack of news content above the fold.

Well actually 99.9% of the content that appears above the fold has nothing to do with current news, which is supposed to be their focus right? Hmmm I guess users don’t want to see the news. Instead the home page showcases a brand new mascot along with new navigation tabs “Just In” and “Socialize”.

The home page does however showcase 15 top rated articles which can be seen once you scroll throw the many apparent ads Propeller has placed through the home page. Seems to me Propeller is taking the route of caring to much about publishers (Increase is ads) and not enough about the user base (lack of prominent news content). The new category structure really showcases this point; Propeller has decreased their categories down to a total of 9. This is way down from their original category count.

Propeller has added a new tab called “socialize” which includes new features to aid in the user’s interaction with others. This area was a definite need as the community base in Propeller was more disconnected compared to other social news properties.

Areas of focus within the socialize tab include:

  • Meet the Community
  • Featured Group
  • Featured Member
  • Most Active Members
  • Most Popular Groups
  • Newest Members
  • Newest Groups
  • Top Submitters
  • Top Commenters

These added features will definitely add to the social element that Propeller was missing from the first go around. The only issue I see with these features is the fact that there is nothing new and innovative about them. If Propeller wants to increase their user base to compete with a social news site such as Digg, they need to come up with features that are unique to propeller to draw those users.

The “Just In” tab is a great feature that many users get addicted to. Just in showcases the most recent stories, comments, and community events that are happening. Many users will find this to be a great addition however there are users out there that will find this real time update feed useless.

Although Propeller has made significant progress with adding more functionality to attempt to immerse the user within the property, I can’t help feel the internal focus of propeller shift from user experience and news to simply a publisher’s model. If Propeller is to gain the user base Digg has they are doing to have to re-think their strategy.