Storify launches redesign that elevates popular social media elements

The newly redesigned Storify, which launches today, makes it easier for people to search for relevant content. Now, instead of featuring popular Storifies, Storify.com’s home page features specific social media elements — photos, tweets, videos and articles — that have the most resonance, says co-founder Burt Herman.

The redesign will make it easier for journalists to see the most popular curated content within Storify and re-Storify, share, like and comment on it. Herman said the redesign advances Storify’s goal of helping people cut through the noise on social media and find elements they can use to tell a meaningful story.

Storify, he said, is using a new algorithm to determine which elements have the most resonance.

“We really wanted to find ways to use the data to find the best of what people are putting in their Storifies,” Herman said by phone. “If all these people are using the same amazing photo, why should every person have to go and track it again? The goal is to really find out which things on social media have a greater life — things that are really lasting, things people want to quote and share.”

Search results showing popular elements from Storifies about the fiscal cliff. While the default is set to search for elements, users can also toggle to the “Stories” tab in the top left-hand corner and search for Storifies.

Herman said in recent months he’s heard from several users who have requested a better search function. Prior to the redesign, search results showed relevant Storifies. Now, they resurface old and new Storify elements. If you search for “Osama bin Laden raid,” for instance, you’ll see some of the most popular tweets from Sohaib Athar, the man who live tweeted the raid from Abbottabad.

The changes apply only to the search function on Storify’s home page — not to the editing dashboard where users create Storifies. Eventually, Herman said, Storify would like to apply the changes to the dashboard.

Herman compared Storify’s new search results to page ranks. “We kind of want to do the same thing for social media. People who get linked to, or photographs that get linked to, should rise in the results,” he said. “It’s something we’re going to keep refining; it’s been part of what we were trying to do from the start; it just took a while to get there.”

The redesigned home page looks a lot like Pinterest. Herman said the tile-based design lets Storify present a lot of information on the home page and draw people into the news through visuals. The site’s editing dashboard looks more or less the same.

Herman hopes the redesign will foster a sense of community on the site. “The changes are about bringing Storify users together into a network so they can collaborate by seeing what others are doing,” he said, noting that the site has also revamped user profiles so that users can personalize their Storify pages.

Part of the fun of using Storify is the serendipity of it — searching for hashtags, for instance, and finding interesting tweets to drag into your storyline. One of the potential downfalls of the new redesign is that users could all start to include the same elements in their Storifies, making them lack originality. The challenge for journalists will be to add context and elevate a variety of voices, even if they’re not the most popular voices out there.

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  • David Rotenstein

    Huge privacy hole in the new Storify design. All content added to a user’s account via the editor or a widget is automatically displayed on the user’s account page, whether it’s in a published story; a draft; or, simply stored in the “storypad.” Major fail by Storify and the hole needs to be plugged by allowing users to set visibility defaults for content collected.