Introducing SparkPeople 'Friend Feed' Enhancements

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Good morning, SparkPeople!

We've been hard at work revamping some of your favorite SparkPeople features to make them more fun and useful. Today we are happy to announce an update to your Friend Feed.

If you're not familiar with it, your Friend Feed shows you the recent activity of your SparkFriends: things like new blog posts they've made, their status updates, and even when they've won a trophy. You can find a shortened view of your Friend Feed in Step 3 on your Start page, or see it in full by clicking "Friend Feed" under the "Community" tab at the top of the site.

Here's what you'll notice in the newly redesigned Friend Feed:
  • A new design. We've cleaned up the Friend Feed so it's a little easier on the eyes (fewer hyperlinks, etc.).
  • Easy options to "hide" certain activities (or people). If you don't care about seeing how many SparkPoints your friends earn, when they join a new SparkTeam—or any other Friend Feed activity, you can now easily hide all of those activities from showing up in your feed. Simple click the dropdown arrow next to the activity (see image below) you don't wish to see, and select the option to "Hide All" of that activity in the future. Related, you can now hide any friend from showing up in your Friend Feed (without having to "unfriend" them) using the same dropdown. (Your friend will not be notified if they were hidden.)

  • Fitness tracking! We always want to celebrate and encourage fitness, so now any exercises that your friends track will show up in your feed. This is a great way to see what people are doing to be successful—and cheer them on!
When you surround yourself with people doing healthy things, research shows that you are more likely to adopt their habits, too. Your Friend Feed keeps you in the loop with all the healthy actions your SparkFriends are taking—so you can be motivated, inspired and encouraging! Remember that you can choose which of your personal activities show up in your friends' feeds. To edit what other members see about you, click here.
We hope that you enjoy these new Friend Feed enhancements. Please share your comments or feedback below—and be on the lookout for even more SparkPeople updates in the near future!

UPDATE 2/13/14: Thanks for the feedback! We have added some constrasting color to the main Friend Feed page to help offset each update from the next. To answer a few of the other questions/concerns in the comments: You can easily hide all fitness from your feed by using the dropdown option shown and explained above. Also, all blog entries are still underlined--just like they used to be--so you should be able to see those just like you always have. We understand that any changes can be difficult when you're used to things a certain way. Thank you for your understanding and your feedback.

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Still can't stand this new system.... Report
hard to read . Report
Way too long with all the fitness added, would love it to be less. Report
Is there a way to see mutual friends? I've tried and tried and can't figure that out.....hmmmm Thank you! Report
I miss being able to see in the feed who "liked" my actions. Many others have also expressed missing this feature. Could it be added back, or are we just missing how to see it? Report
I still find it hard to read--and it is now March 3rd. Report
Please, please put buttons or highlighting around the "like" and "comment" options of the friend feed.

Your blog post says the redesign was to make it easier on the eyes, but it has had the opposite effect.

The changes made after the first bout of comments did help - somewhat. But, they did not make this a functional part of SP. It was not broken before, and the "improvement" has broken the friend feed.

The contrasting colors you added are not quite contrasty enough. They don't provide ENOUGH SEPARATION between one feed and the next.

Putting the poster's names in bold DID help. Thank you for this.

Leaving the "like" and "comment" buttons in the same size text and same font, although a different color, and underlined does NOT make those features easier to use. Readability studies show that underlining text makes it more DIFFICULT TO READ.

The overall effect of viewing the friend feed may be smooth, but it LOST READABILITY. It is more difficult for users to pick out the information they wish to respond to at a glance than it was before the redesign.

Yes, the features to limit or expand what we see are helpful.

Please reinstate the buttons around the "like" and "comment" options, and provide more distinction between one feed and the next.

Since the redesign, I find myself using the friend feed less and less. This keeps me on the site for LESS time and makes it a less enjoyable experience.
Usually not too upset by Spark's changes as usually they are for the better, but this one really bothers me. I like the fitness addition, but the "cleaned up" design is ugly and too rudimentary looking; also, it hasn't carried over to your own feed, so when you go to "my activities" it looks like it used to (which was much nicer). And the lack of ability to select seeing blog comments is sad as well. I found a great group of Sparkfriends because of the friend feed interaction where we saw each other's blogs because someone in common commented. :( Report
I like it Report
The next button on my Friends Feed is gone. I only get one page of friends' updates. I have no idea how to tell Tech Support! The Help Desk link is NO HELP! How do you contact a human to tell them when there is a problem!!!! Report
Well, I just had quite a surprise. I just checked my own 'friend feed' only to find that nothing has been entered for the last 5 days. I reached 40,000 points which put me into the next level but have no idea when as it was always in my feed. After much exploring I found this notice. What I could not find is how to subscribe to this blog. How can we get notified when these type of changes are going to be made? How can I get my feed updated to the present? I agree with many of the prior comments & personally feel that the old friend feed was more user friendly. Your efforts are appreciated & Spark People is 1 of the 2 (social) websites I am a member of (I don't care for Facebook, Twitter, etc.) & visit on a daily basis. Any chance of bringing back the status update button for when we do our wheel spins? While I can't exercise & thus don't track Fitness Minutes, I know I have done activities that are usually automatically put in my friend feed these past 5 days, but as I said, my friend feed has nothing entered. Thank-you for your continuing efforts to improve this website, but personally I think this change maybe wasn't necessary. Report
Still hating it! Report
I miss seeing what blogs my sparkfriends have commented on. That's how I have found blogs that I like, as well as new spark reading what they're reading. I had to turn off the fitness feed. I'm not interested in who walked for 15 minutes. Now, the friend feed looks less "social". Report
I miss not being able to update my status with points won on daily spin and bonus spin. Will this come back anytime soon? Report
After using the new, I will not say improved friend feed for several days I still do not like it. I know from comments from friends that I am not alone. Like one friend, I may quit using it. The old way I could buzz right through it and see what my friends were doing. The way it is now I get frustrated and give up after a few minutes. Even with adding the grey tone it is still much harder to read than the old way. Very disappointed in this change! Report
Thx for striving to make things better for us! Report
I've enjoyed so many of the changes so far, but this was disappointing. Report
I think it was easier to read the old way. Report
Sorry, but I have to say that this looks awful. It's cluttered and hard to see properly. It is too jammed together. No.....I don't care for it one bit! There is no separation from one status to another. Yuck! Report
While some changes are helpful - such as being able to control what we see, and what parts of our feed others see - the formatting is a huge step backwards.

This is much more difficult to see.

Please bring back the buttons for like and comments.

The colors distinguishing between feed activities help a bit, but they don't make enough distinction.

You could also make it more readable by changing font thickness and size. The way it is now, things blend together. The blue links for comments and likes are still in the same font, at the same size. If you put buttons around them - to make the links clear, and put a border around each feed item, it would be easier to quickly navigate through the page.

It would also help to make the person's name bold. There is just not enough difference between the name in caps and the text. We're all busy people, struggling to find time for a healthy lifestyle. We need the website to support that lifestyle - not chain us to a chair as we struggle to communicate with other Sparkies in our friend feed.

As it is, I'm afraid I won't be using the friend feed much anymore. It's just too hard on the eyes and too difficult to distinguish between items. Report
After getting a chance to look at the Friend Feed I have to agree with most of the other comments, it's harder to read because there is nothing to designate one feed from the other. It's too much white background. It's hard to read.
Sorry, not a fan. Report
For me it's harder on the eyes with the white background. Report
Much better and easier to read with the alternating colors. Thank you! Report
Harder to read with the white background, makes me not want to check my feed. Its not as easy to access either, poor job~ Report
Re: the update SP just posted to the blog...thank you for listening to some of the feedback. How about listening to a little bit more and giving us the option to STOP seeing who won how many points on the wheel? The only way to turn that off is to turn off ALL status updates.

And...I do take exception to the comment "we understand that changes can be difficult when you're used to things a certain way."

Please, SP, please understand that it is not the fact of change that is difficult. It is that the changes are launched with no warning and are, quite honestly, visually difficult. Many people have asked, many times, what is the process to preview changes BEFORE they are implemented, so as to avoid all of this negative feedback about visuals and ease of use? Report
The white background makes it difficult for me to read the feeds. Would you consider putting a coloured background, something like light blue, or green, to make it easier on our eyes? Otherwise, I like the changes. Report
It is not easier on the eyes. Its more confusing now bc of all the white. where does one feed end and one begin?
Sorry to say, this was a poor update. Report
I will get used to the change. However, the lack of seeing the BLOG hyperlinks is counter-intuitive, not industry standard and is it very easy to miss exciting blogs others have written. Please consider re-installing the easier to read format of a visible blog link.

Have you considered having a soft roll out on changes so you do not get such negative reactions? Report
Very DIFFICULT to read! The previous version was easy on the eyes and cleaner. I don't care to check the Friend Feed now. Why fix something that's not broken? Report
Horrors, SparkPeople! IF you tested this before rolling it out, you sure didn't include old eyes or people with vision problems. This is simply awful, beginning to end! I'm not usually this negative (like I only had two issues with the new Start Page). But this is simply TOO HARD to read!!! Maybe shading to break it into sections would help - like with comments and threads. But please, please, please, Powers-That-Be, fix this right away! I also dislike having fitness stuff show - TMI if one has more than half a dozen friends. And can we please turn off the SparkPoints notification again? It's also TMI and takes our attention away from the really important stuff like blogs and status updates. Report
I think the friend feed is much harder to read with the smaller print and everything seems closer together. I've never commented on any of the other changes Spark has made, but this one I don't like. Report
How do I "follow" someone again after "unfollowing" them?

The new format is MUCH harder to read. Like others have said it all seems to run together.

I do appreciate SparkPeople's continued efforts to improve the site though!
needs a little work.. hard to read. Report
This change makes it very, very hard for me to read. It's just too white or something and with my decreasing vision, I had problems with it. I also thought there was some glitch in the system. I'll keep trying, but it seems like it may be something I don't spend much time with. It was a good way for me to make brief comments supporting friends, but if I can't see what I'm doing, well...enuf said. Report
Not a fan of the exercises showing up in the friend feed. It just clutters things up and makes it harder to find the things I do want to see! Fitness minute milestones are fine, but I don't need to know every little exercise someone does to get there, and I don't particularly want mine shared either! Report
I usually embrace change and I guess I don't have a choice in this matter but this is really hard for me to read. I used the old friend feed a lot to comment on or like my friends stuff but now I am not sure how much I will be able to do this. I am already short on time and I found that the new format took me a lot longer to go through than did the old way. Report
I agree, its very difficult to read. I thought it had some software glitch and would soon be back to normal. I guess not, since its another change, but please listen to feedback about readability.
Also, I agree that supporting each other is great, but seeing everything everyone tracks is overwhelming; I've already hidden that feature on mine. Report
How about telling us FIRST BEFORE YOU MAKE CHANGES??? This is getting really annoying! Report
I hate to sound like a complainer because I really love, love, love SP, but, the new friend feed is so small and without color or lines or something... it is hard to read. I could probably deal with the size, but, no distinction between entries is completely not user friendly. PLEASE make an adjustment as soon as possible. Thanks! Report
I don't mind the new format, except that it is too run together for me. The posts (feeds) are right on top of one another. Maybe a line could be placed between each one? It is difficult to see where one stops and the next one begins. Other than that, the new options are great. Report
Honestly, I find the new Friend Feed very difficult to read. It's so whitewashed that everything seems to blend together. It's even worse on the full feed page (
) than in the smaller frame on the start page. Maybe alternating shaded backgrounds (like in this comment section) would help break it up a bit and make it more readable? That might have been how it was before, but in it's current state, the new format is too hard to read. Report
That's all well and fine, but I would really prefer that the daily SparkWheel get moved back up to the top of the Start Page. I'm doing something on SparkPeople every single day, maybe a gap of 24 hours at times but like maybe early in the morning one day, and then late in the evening before midnight the next day - and will inadvertantly forget to click on the daily log in (even though I might have gotten bonus points...) - and then discover a few days later that my SparkStreak for daily log in was now reset to like day 4 or 5 - and that is SOOOO discouraging!! I had several streaks of many months or even a year or more's worth of daily attendance spinning the daily login - and now it's been trashed 3 or 4 times since the October remodel... Please move it up to the TOP! Thanks!! Report
I love it! Report
Normally I love your changes and see them as wonderful improvements. This one's an exception...I find this new format very hard on my eyes, and I think I'll be using it a lot less. I'm giving you this feedback - even though negative - because I don't think that's the kind of development you were reaching for. Thank you for trying to help us, though. I'm really grateful for your efforts. Report
Where do I find the list of people who have friended me, so I can click to confirm them?? Feeling frustrated :( Report
I really dislike this "enhancement". The old one was colorful and fun ... this is very STERILE looking! I could look at the little icons on the right side and know if the person had written a blog, gotten an award and so on.

Also, showing that SparkFriend "whoever" got 500 fitness minutes is great .... knowing the specific activities they are doing (like "heavy housecleaning for 2 hours")? NO NO NO ...... *but* there's not a way to indicate that I want to see one piece of information without the other.

Almost makes me want to uncheck just about everything for myself and for my friends.

I thought it was easier the old way, Report
The "Hide All" option is a great idea...but confusing. If I don't want to see that someone won SparkPoints on the wheel I click the arrow and it says "Hide all Status Updates".

Which means what exactly?? ALL status updates from the person or now hidden (which is what it says!) ??

Or just the particular TYPE of status update (points in this case, which is what the article says) ??

Some clarification would be appreciated!

Also...the streamlining is a great idea too...but there is always a but. The Comment & Like options are harder to click on now that they are not buttons, and it is harder to see the separation between the different friend feed entries. Everything tends to run together. And if someone already made a comment it is that much harder to see and click on Like or Comment, and to make sure your are clicking on the Like for the status you actually want to Like.

I wonder...does SP have a member focus or test group that trials all the updates before they are released? Having actual members look at potential updates with a fresh eye can be invaluable; the actual users have a different perspective from the programmers. Report
Sorry to be negative, but I hate the new look - mostly because it doesn't highlight blog entries until you scroll over them. Report
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