Jason admin said

The New Tea Page

Hi Steepster Fans!

We’re really excited to unveil what we’ve been working on for a while, an all new tea page! It’s got a fresh coat of paint and a few fancy new features too. Just like the old tea page, you can add the new information using the “Edit tea info” link on the tea page.

We hope you like it and continue helping us create the best place for online. For more details about the update, check our latest blog post here: http://blog.steepster.com/post/75313585524/introducing-a-brand-new-tea-page

Here’s to the future!

235 Replies
carol who said

Everything looks great! I can’t wait to explore the new features!

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I like it!!!! :)

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It looks awesome! Thanks for the great work.

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Ana said

Your UI designer rocks!

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sansnipple said

Don’t take this the wrong way, but honestly, I kind of really hate the new tea page layout, very messy where the old layout was nice and clean, lots of clutter and duplicate or useless info, especially having just excerpts/snippets of the tasting notes visible is really annoying (though it turns out they’re just needless duplicates and the full notes we want to read are still there, just hidden way way way down at the bottom of the page). Also the description should be up near the top not hidden down below, if anything i’d switch it with that new details box that’s currently empty on everything, the tea’s description is far more useful and is the first thing many people want to read. Also I’d put the similar tea panes down at the very end of the page or in a sidebar like they were before, they interrupt the tea’s page and at first I didn’t even see the full tasting notes below them. And nix the snippets/pull quotes duplicated above please, those are really annoying having to either click through or scroll way down to read the rest of a note.

Also, the whole big buy now/notify when available button is just really really weird. Is steepster trying to become some kind of platform for selling teas instead of a neutral reviews/discussion forum? Plus It labeling most teas as not available is oddly deceptive, because most of them still are actually for sale at the various tea vendors that actually sell them.

Dexter said

Agreed – I agree with EVERYTHING you said sansnipple.

Yes, as a vendor we are really upset about the “not available” thing. We’ve been contacted by someone upset that we had taken their favourite tea off the market!

Kaylee said

Absolutely agree. Also tacking on that the font seems to have changed and I find it harder to read.

+1 to moving similar teas to the bottom of the page (I go to a tea page because I want to read the tasting notes. Having the tasting notes as the very LAST thing on the page seems counter-intuitive. I end up scrolling for a long time to get to the stuff I care about).

+1 to the “Notify When Available” button being weird (I just ignore it since I buy directly from tea vendors anyway. It does seem like a waste of space since EVERY tea says it’s not available).

+1 to new font being harder to read (although I think I can get used to this one).

I agree completely too, I’ve tried to ignore the “Notify When Available” box but it’s really starting to grate on me now. It is strangely deceptive, especially for new members as it looks like that tea is simply out of stock or old stock.

Also not a fan of the font but that is a minor issue for me.

I was hoping that with the update I would be able to easily find my own steeping notes from a previous time without having to trawl through them all.

Jason admin said

To everyone in this thread: Honestly, thank you for the thoughtful feedback, we’re not taking it the wrong way at all. We know this page hasn’t changed in several years and, with any change, there’s bound to be some amount of friction. Hopefully you still find the updates usable and, in time, helpful and and an improvement. If not, we hope you understand that we’re not done improving and will continue to iterate on the product. Now to your specific points…

The new page definitely has a lot more going on, and it inherently is more “messy” or “cluttered”. One of the main things we wanted to do with the new page was allow users to start contributing and pulling out more specific data around each of the teas they’re drinking, like flavors, ingredients, pictures, etc, to make it a much richer experience. We knew we were adding a lot to the page and we tried our best to keep it controlled and focused within that context.

The pull quotes from the tasting notes are part of our effort to start making tasting notes in general more accessible to a wider variety of tea drinkers. We love how much time and effort people put into writing really long and detailed tasting notes, but we also know that not everyone is willing to spend the time reading them (you know the class tl:dr). The pull quotes are our first step to start pulling out the most basic sentiment of a user towards a tea in a quick and easy to read fashion. Right now the process of determining those isn’t very sophisticated, so they’re not always the best pull quotes, but that’s something we’ll definitely improve with time.

For the description, we put that lower on the page because we feel that the descriptions are, for the most part, marketing type speak wrapped around the data that is actually relevant to people exploring the tea. That’s why we put the flavor, ingredient, etc. info towards the top, in an effort to get that relevant info up front, first. We know it isn’t ideal now because we’re just starting to collect that info, but further down the road our thought is that that info will become richer and more relevant than the descriptions, which is why they are where they are now.

We put the similar/recommended teas up higher because another initiative we’re trying to promote is helping people discover more teas they they’ll love. Again, our recommendation system is far from where we want it to be, but again, it’s a first step. We wanted to make sure people continue to discover their next favorite cup of tea, whether that’s through the dashboard and the people they’re following, or on the tea page.

The whole buy/not available thing is another step towards helping people get new teas into their cups. We want to help people actually try the teas they find and talk about through steepster, so we want to help them buy it. Unfortunately, about 99% of our teas currently don’t have a place where people can buy them, which is why they say “Currently Unavailable”. We manage those internally (so people can’t link out to incorrect/spam/inapproaite places) but want to work with companies to connect people to the places where they can buy them. If you’re a company and can help us with your links, send us an email to feedback at steepster.com and we’ll let you know how to help.

As to the specific messaging of “Currently Unavailable” we tried to follow what we perceived to be common practice and what we saw other sites doing (ecommerce sites, amazon, etc.). We certainly don’t mean the tea is no longer in production or unavailable from any other site online.

I hope that, at the very least, this gives you some context/understanding of why we made the descisions we did. As always, nothing is perfect and we’ll be iterating and improving as we go. Hopefully, you can bear with us during the growing pains :)

Jason admin said

Sorry, that’s pretty long…

looseTman said

“The pull quotes from the tasting notes are part of our effort to start making tasting notes in general more accessible to a wider variety of tea drinkers. We love how much time and effort people put into writing really long and detailed tasting notes, but we also know that not everyone is willing to spend the time reading them (you know the class tl:dr).”

Jason, Is there a recommended tasting note format that would help accomplish this goal?

Jason admin said

That’s a great question! But honestly, there isn’t an ideal format. When we originally designed the tasting notes, we intentionally made them flexible so it could cater to a wide variety of writing/tasting styles. I’m not sure we’ve come to any definitive conculsions about the best format, other than the format that actually gets someone to write is probably the best :). But seriously, our approach at this point is more in line with letting people write what/how they want and then having a sophisticated system to highlight the relevant parts to specific people that would find them helpful. So really, write however you prefer to write and we’ll keep working to take care of the rest!

looseTman said

“,,,the format that actually gets someone to write is probably the best :).” – Agreed!

“… and then having a sophisticated system to highlight the relevant parts …”

How does the following pull quote help discern the aroma & flavor of this tea in a way that’s “more accessible to a wider variety of tea drinkers”?

“Sad sad day. I was expecting my delivery of samples from Joseph Wesley earlier this week. Despite tracking saying it delivered, it had not! So, this weekend the package finally arrives. With a note…” – http://steepster.com/teas/joseph-wesley-black-tea/41460-classic-chinese

Anna said

looseTman – I definitely agree with you that the new snippets could have been implemented AFTER said sophisticated system were in place, if that’s what you’re saying.

looseTman said

It maybe that this pull quote was selected by the sophisticated system.

Anna said

Oh, I think you missed this:

“The pull quotes are our first step to start pulling out the most basic sentiment of a user towards a tea in a quick and easy to read fashion. Right now the process of determining those isn’t very sophisticated, so they’re not always the best pull quotes, but that’s something we’ll definitely improve with time.

looseTman said

You’re correct. Thanks for the heads-up!

The less appropriate pull quotes significantly add to the sense of clutter on the new tea pages. It would be better if they didn’t exist until the sophisticated selection system has been fully refined and is truly ready for primetime.

looseTman said

To help discern the aroma & flavor of a tea in a way that’s “more accessible to a wider variety of tea drinkers” perhaps a simpler approach, a recommended tasting note word limit, would be better than a complicated pull quote system.

Cavocorax said

Hmmm, while I agree that the current pull quotes are pretty much useless, I don’t like the idea of a recommended tasting note word limit. I don’t want anything to restrict what I put in that box. Everyone has a different style of reviewing teas (or not reviewing, as they talk about things they do while they drink the tea), and I value both types of posts. Others may not, but for me that’s part of what makes Steepster great: the fact that you can follow those who give you the most informative/entertaining reviews and ignore the rest.

I just wouldn’t want any restrictions there at least.

Maybe for those who WANT snippets of reviews to appear, we could have some option to highlight what we feel is the most relevant summary for that tea? I’m not sure how the coding works or if that’d even be possible.

looseTman said

Cavocorax, Please note, I mentioned a “recommended tasting note word limit” not an absolute word limit restriction.

“… you can follow those who give you the most informative/entertaining reviews …”
Agreed, that is one of the best aspects of Steepsteer.

“… option to highlight what we feel is the most relevant summary for that tea …”

An excellent idea! Who knows more about your experience with that specific tea than you? Currently, we can highlight the most relevant portion with the bold function. We could eliminate the need for pull quotes if everyone simply followed your suggestion!

Cavocorax said

:) Fair enough!

And while bolding works in a pinch, it might clutter the page as well? (Or maybe it’d be useful bc people could just skim to the bolded parts?)

I wonder if there’s another formatting tag, or just some tag over all that we could add into the post to flag it for the system as a recommended snippet but where it wouldn’t post on the page? There are definitely snippets of my own that I am rather proud of and would be happy to see as featured snippets, but I wouldn’t really want everyone else to see that I was nominating my posts for “best review ever!” I like to hide my ego a little better than that, but perhaps I’m just overthinking this whole thing.

looseTman said

Uniquity,
“I almost feel like there could be a list of the most incongruous to make us smile on a bad day.”

Agreed! I literally was just thinking about starting a Steepster Talk discussion topic on that very point to lampoon such pull quotes.

Anna said

Cavo – no, but that’s a really good suggestion. I’ve come across that ‘harvest this for snippets’ highlighting function somewhere else but I cannot for the life of me remember where. (Yes, I know I’m being exceptionally helpful right now.) Bolding, in my opinion, would just be massively annoying. That’s not what boldface is for.

Jason admin said

To start, the pull quote system isn’t very sophisticated so not all of them are where we’d like them to be, like the one you identified. But we do plan to make the system better at identifying useful pull quotes along with human curation. Baby steps!

Jason admin said

After I had replied I realized a bunch of other replies had already been posted, so that’s why my previous reply seems a little out of place.

To all the other ideas, I think there are a lot of really good thoughts here. We’re not done changing things, so we’ll definitely keep all these in mind as we move forward. Thanks again for the suggestions and for the fact that you care enough about tea and Steepster to put your thoughts out there in an effort to make it better.

looseTman said

Jason,
“To start, the pull quote system isn’t very sophisticated so not all of them are where we’d like them to be, like the one you identified. But we do plan to make the system better at identifying useful pull quotes along with human curation. Baby steps!”

Given that the pull quote system is not yet ready for primetime, wouldn’t it be better to put it on hold until it works as desired?

looseTman said

Anna,
“Bolding, in my opinion, would just be massively annoying. That’s not what boldface is for.”

Out of curiosity, what in your opinion are the appropriate uses of bolding?

So if I have understood Jason correctly, then the “Currently unavailable” label refers specifically to Steepster Select? If 99% of the teas list at the site are not Steepster Select teas, then shouldn’t the label be changed to read “Currently Unavailable through Steepster Select”?

I agree with some of the vendors who have weighed in on. This is very confusing. Why not give a link to the tea at the vendor’s site rather than suggesting that the tea is out of production?

Jason admin said

sherapop: It's just for teas that we have a location where people can buy them. Since we only source enough of the "Steepster" teas to fill select, it doesn't even apply to those because people can't buy them outside of the select sampler it comes in. But if companies send us an email (<a href="mailto:feedbacksteespter.com" rel=“nofollow” target="_blank">[email protected]) we can help them get the relevant links up so people can directly find the place to buy the teas.

Jason-Just wanted to mention that the unavailable/available issue sounds like it might end up being a whole lot of work for you. With us, we can have maybe 40 new teas in a year and discontinue maybe 30. Also, many of our teas are either seasonal and run out or are just temporarily unavailable. So even just for our company, that is a lot of imputing, I couldn’t imagine doing that for every company. Is there maybe a way for companies to have access to change their own teas, though that sounds complicated.

Jason admin said

Yea, it can be a lot of work (though with the way we ask for the links it can be a lot quicker) but we still think it’s important. We’ve talked a lot about giving companies more access to manage their products/info, that’s just something that we haven’t made a reality yet because of the obviously complexity of that. We’ll be looking to improve the process in the future, if we don’t make it an open system. Thanks for the consideration though, it’s always nice to have people who want to make your life easier :)

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Cavocorax said

I like a lot of the new changes, but I agree that the layout for the tea page is more cluttered than I would prefer. I’d remove the snippets as they’re distracting and don’t really offer anything. And yes, the vendor’s description of the tea should be much closer to the top – maybe right above the “From Our Community” section?

I do like that it shows who has the tea, and who wants it. That will make swapping much easier.

I also like the added fields for ingredients and flavours. I think that will be really useful for searching, and for better reviews.

MissB said

I agree with Cavo completely. Plus the duplication of content looks bad with any search engine, especially when it’s on the same page. I love the look and feel of the excerpts, I just want them where they were, because I’d read them last, and usually after I reviewed a tea. I do however want to see the description and ingredients right away, above everything.

I completely understand the link to buy tea — you guys have to make money! — and I’m happy to support you. At the same time, I think the language needs changing so that it’s more clear – the tea IS available, just not via Steepster, yet. Teas that do go out of stock or are unavailable (like Verdant, or 52 Teas) would need this designation, for instance, and different from “buy me” links.

Also, the rounding up of numbers for the measurements has to change. 0.25 tsp is VERY different than 1 tsp, or as it’s being listed right now, 0 tsp.

Having said all that, I love the feel, I love the who owns the tea part, I love the additions to the tasting notes, and I love the image enhancement.

MissB said

… would also LOVE small little checkboxes that show, just like the who wants and who has these teas, the following: who wants to SWAP this tea, who wants to SELL this tea.

Lynxiebrat said

Yes. That is what I was just about to say, MissB.

I could live with the new design, it’s more streamlined, but do agree with the other comments, MissB has said as well as Sansnipple and Cavocorax.

looseTman said

I think sansnipple, Dexter3657, Cavocorax, & MissB are correct that the tea page layout is too busy. Clear, simple & concise are always appreciated.

Jason admin said

Thanks to all for your comments. I responded to most of them here: http://steepster.com/discuss/6947-the-new-tea-page?post_id=125633#forum_post_125633

I’ll post the link for the sake of not having giant replies all over the place.

@MissB We like the idea of the checkboxes to show other data like who wants to swap/sell. That stuff is really cool and we love how it further connections the community. I can’t say it’s our top priority (we have a lot going on now) but it’s something we’d definitely like to support in the future.

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ssajami said

Overall, I think the new tea page is awesome :)
The “Similar Teas” section is a great idea!

The only thing I think is unnecessary is the review snippets, especially since the full reviews themselves are at the bottom. I also think the vendor tea description should be moved up, maybe instead of the snippets. It’s one of the first things I look at when browsing a new tea and it makes sense that it would be more centrally displayed.

Good work the page looks amazing!

sansnipple said

there’s always been that similar teas thing, it was in a smaller sidebar before

Jason admin said

Thanks! I responded to the comment you had in an earlier thread here: http://steepster.com/discuss/6947-the-new-tea-page?post_id=125633#forum_post_125633

For my own sanity, I’m posting the link :)

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AnnaEA select said

Okay, I waited to comment on this until I’d played with things awhile, and it is official. I love the new tea page, but the tea description and company info need to be back at the top. It is starting to get annoying having to scroll around to find them.

As the owner of a tea company, we can’t even figure out how to get our company info into there!

Jason admin said

I posted our thoughts/reasons for the layout above: http://steepster.com/discuss/6947-the-new-tea-page?post_id=125633#forum_post_125633

As to the question about the company info, like the buy links, thats controlled by our admins. If you shoot an email to feedback at steepster.com we can help you get a company description in there.

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My inbox keeps crashing. It won’t even load just closes my browser

Jason admin said

Sorry! Can you send an email to feedback at steepster.com with a report of the issue you’re having. That will help us keep track of it better, thanks!

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Is the “Flavor” field not the same as the “Ingredients” field? (Taxonomy vs Folksonomy)
I tried to enter a flavor in a recent tea tasting note and it wouldn’t stay. Then I clicked on “Suggest Flavor” and it opened my e-mail inbox. After I sent the recommendation (Artificial), it brought me back to the tea page, where the Tasting Note had never been saved and I had to start over.

Kaylee said

This just happened to me! It’s particularly frustrating because the “Flavor” field is the last thing at the bottom of the page, so I had already written out my note!

FYI: I discovered today that if you just click in the box, a dropdown menu appears with a ton of options.

Jason admin said

Sorry about that! Right now the flavor and ingredient data sets are locked on our side – an effort for us to maintain the integrity of the data (vs. allowing people to put in anything). We’ll probably make that a form submission in the near future, but we’ll make sure when you do that your content doesn’t get cleared.

But to your question, flavors and ingredients use different data sets, so they are not the same fields.

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