Introducing a New Look for Vocal
We've updated Vocal to improve transparency across the platform, improve Vocal's navigation, and most importantly, improve how we champion and reward creators who are doing amazing things.
You may have noticed that things look a bit different around here.
Over the last few months, we have been working on a new version of Vocal that sets a strong foundation for the features and goals we want to accomplish in 2021.
And this update is a long time in the making. In fact, Vocal hasn't had a major refresh like this since 2019. Since then, we have been focused on building new features and improving existing ones to help support creators, and we will continue to do so.
This update is just the beginning of a comprehensive upgrade to Vocal that we will be rolling out over the year.
2020 was one of Vocal's fastest-growing years ever. It was also an unprecedented year that demanded change. And given the current state of misinformation and division fueled by Big Tech's algorithms and advertising, we decided it was imperative to improve Vocal's transparency around curation and moderation. We believe curation negates addictive algorithmic recommendations, and creates a safer platform for creators, readers, and brands.
Creators seem to agree with this ideology. Vocal+, our membership offering, has grown rapidly since we launched it a year ago. With over 10,000 Vocal+ members validating this model, we are continuing to invest into our long-term vision for Vocal.
As part of this first update, we decided it was essential that we improve transparency across the platform, improve Vocal's navigation, and most importantly, improve how we champion and reward creators who are doing amazing things.
This new version could not be possible without the feedback from all of you who power the Vocal community, and we encourage you to reach out to us with your thoughts, comments, and ideas.
Here are some of the things we've updated:
A New Homepage Focused on Curation
First, the most obvious change is that when you visit Vocal’s homepage, you’ll see that it’s no longer dominated by a colorful grid of communities.
The Vocal homepage now belongs to our creators.
Featuring top stories at the forefront helps you discover great stories—but it also means that it'll help other creators discover your great stories, too. We hope to reward great quality, and when your stories go above and beyond, they'll be front and center for the entire platform.
This Top Stories section will be replacing the previous Staff Picks section that's been featured on Vocal's homepage in the past, and they'll be constantly updated throughout each day, hand-selected by our team. These top stories, the content that you see highlighted throughout the platform, are all chosen by our human team of moderators and curators, not algorithms. This helps us ensure that genuine quality is rewarded, not just engagement, and it guarantees that Vocal's communities remain safe and diverse.
We are also now surfacing Challenges, Creators We’re Loving, Resources, and Top Communities on the homepage to help you discover, get inspired, and support fellow creators.
A New Look for Challenges
Since launching Challenges one year ago, I am proud to say we have sent Challenge winners over $200,000 and donated to charities and causes that are working to help solve today's most pressing problems. We couldn't have done that without the amazing response from our community, and you've helped validate the power of Challenges.
As part of this release, we have updated the Challenges page to make it easier for you to view Open Challenges, as well as highlighting the amazing creators who have won in the past. Additionally, we've updated Challenge cards to have more accessible information, such as a short summary and the prize amount.
Challenges are a core feature to Vocal, and this is just the first part of a more comprehensive update in the near future.
More Transparency for Communities
Transparency is key for healthy communities. When thinking about what communities should look like in this new version of Vocal, we considered what you, our creators, might want to know about the communities you’re an active participant in. So, you’ll notice that a community's homepage and cards now surface health metrics so you can have a better understanding of the creator activity and contributions to each individual community.
These health metrics include how many creators have contributed in total, as well as how many stories have been published on the community, and they surface several “top creators,” which are regularly updated, who have made the community what it is now—either by consistently publishing great stories, or recently sharing something we thought was extra special.
Our goal here is to make sure you have a better scope into the community you’re contributing to, as well as the engagement of your fellow creators—how many of them share which interests, and which communities have the most active contributors. Our hope is that by making these health metrics easily accessible and placing them front and center on each community, you have a bigger picture view of exactly what you’re helping to grow.
An Improved Way to Navigate
We also knew that we needed to make Vocal simpler and more intuitive to navigate, especially for newer creators. That's why we've updated Vocal's primary navigation from topic-based to section-based. We now surface the most important pages for creators and their audiences: Home, Top Stories, Communities, and Challenges. We've also added Resources to the main navigation to make it easier to find tips and advice.
All of your profile-related pages are still right where they used to be, so you can still easily access your stories, settings, wallet, and stats, right where you’re expecting them.
Community navigation also received a much needed update, which now highlights the Top Stories and the Latest Stories published to that community.
We expect that this new version of Vocal will make your experience on the platform not just more straightforward, but more enriching and inspiring, and we hope that you're as excited about it as we are. We are so thankful for your support in helping us build a more sustainable ecosystem for creators.
If you have any feedback or suggestions, please always feel free to get in touch with our customer support team.