You may have noticed some changes to the Academia.edu newsfeed, which we began updating early last week. The newsfeed is integral to your Academia.edu experience, so we’re writing now to let you know some of our thoughts behind the redesign.
There were many reasons for changing the design and backend architecture of the feed. Namely, we wanted to load more stories, load them faster, and create more emphasis for each item as a separate event. Each story is now contained within a separate white module so that they are more clearly distinguishable. We’ve also added abstracts if they are available to provide more context without having to leave your feed.
We hypothesized that all of these changes would result in more researchers interacting with their feed, which can be measured in views of papers, bookmarks, and downloads.
It’s only been a week since this update rolled out, so we’ll continue monitoring the data and listening to your feedback to determine how to make it better. So far, it looks like we’ve roughly doubled the number of downloads and bookmarks of papers per day.
We think this is great news. Researchers should too. Providing the easiest way to gain more exposure for research is what drives our product development. Take the newsfeed as an example: the new design has resulted in a huge increase in downloads and bookmarks which means more papers are being discovered and recirculated since the change.
The platform that makes research the most discoverable is best for everyone.
However, the updates won’t stop here. In an effort to continue to make Academia.edu the best way to share and discover new research, similar changes and experiments will be coming to other features. We’re adding roughly 70,000 researchers to our community every day. Because of this, we have to experiment with alternative solutions to ensure that we are creating the best experience for both new researchers as well as existing ones. Sometimes this means making imperfect compromises but we believe providing the platform that makes research the most discoverable is best for everyone.
We’ll be experimenting with some adjustments and watching the metrics to make sure we’re building both a functional and enjoyable experience. If you’d like to share your thoughts on the newsfeed redesign, or other changes, let us know. We look forward to hearing from you.