Yelp, one of the two top travel review sites on the web, has recently unveiled a subtle redesign that puts more emphasis on social. The site has slowly evolved over the years from a simple review aggregator to a community-oriented portal.
The redesign emphasizes this direction, by making a home page that highlights your location, your friends, your profile, your friend requests, popular reviews and more.
The news was announced by Mark Allen on the Yelp blog, and he highlights that most of the features are now related to your friends. You’ll be able to see what events they are attending, what reviews they’ve recently written and more.
The redesign didn’t take any drastic measures, and therefore it’s likely that a lot of users are barely going to notice the difference. It will feel more like a slight rearranging than a redesign, and that’s a good move by Yelp. It can often be disastrous when a site redesigns its core product (see Digg) and alienates its own user base, and Yelp will not suffer that here.
I suspect that the social feature placement in this new design is meant to be like honey, and a few users will notice the “friends’ reviews” section and click over. One tactic of good design is to let users feel like they discovered something on their own, and I suspect Yelp is taking that approach here.
Take a look at the image below for a sample: what do you think?