The widely anticipated Foursquare redesign went live today (late last night) with some nice enhancements and feature upgrades. It’s important to note, however, that there isn’t much new functionality. This isn’t the pivot some people are making it out to be, but it’s a nice UI refresh.
The biggest reason I say it isn’t a pivot is that it’s the exact opposite: an acceleration of Foursquare’s existing direction toward better local discovery. That direction was most notably established in the Explore tab, released about a year ago, and then in its younger cousin, Radar.
Today’s redesign gives more prominent placement to the Explore tab, front and center on the bottom bar and less cluttered by other tabs. Within the Explore tab, there is a much cleaner and visually striking interface, with a quickly loading and centered map.
The check-in button is moved to the top right of the interface. It now stands alone there, as opposed to its previous positioning crammed in the bottom bar along with the Explore tab and a few other things. So it’s a little more spread out and comfortable overall.
There are also better social features. The friends tab has more of a Facebook-like feed of user activity. That was the case to a certain extent but is now more visually rich and allows you to easily respond, like or share things you see in the friend activity feed (it reminds of Instagram’s feed).
Navigationally the new version is a lot more intuitive and design-wise it’s in keeping with the quickly evolving UI standards of the iOS app environment. Bottom line, it’s a damn good redesign. But let’s be careful to not make it out to be much more than that.
That said, there is a lot here that opens the door for Foursquare to keep innovating. I expect the company to bring in new functionality in the way that, again, it’s advancing the overall mission to be a better discovery engine.
That could play out with things such as better content and local deal density, or new deal types. It’s already broadened these to some degree, but there’s room for growth in time sensitive and serendipitous offers and how they’re pushed to users (Crowley’s vision).
And of course this is all leading up to more refined, effective and relavent content delivery, which Foursquare would like to perfect before it flips the monetization switch. Foursquare bus dev lead Holger Luedorf said as much at SFSW, and that monetization is coming this year.
Much sooner than that (in three weeks), we’ll dive deeper on all this at our MLM San Francisco conference.