Ever since the new version of Digg was announced three months ago, it has undergone a lot of revisions and caused a lot of turmoil. In that time, Kevin Rose replaced Jay Adelson as CEO, reportedly unhappy with the direction Adelson was taking the company and the product.
The New Digg is almost here though, and we have access to the preview. We’ve been playing around with the new interface and its many features, and we’ve compared them against both the “old” Digg and other platforms such as Twitter and Facebook .
Here are our first impressions of the New Digg:
Digg Has a Suggested Users List
When you first log onto the New Digg (New.Digg.com), you’re presented with a couple screens. The first one is Digg’s version of the suggested users list — a hand-picked list of people and companies to follow on Digg. The list includes everyone from Kevin Rose to The New York Times to Mashable , and it categorizes their accounts based on topic area.
Twitter spurred a lot of growth and created a small set of power accounts with its suggested user list (SUL) — at least until this year’s changes. Still, these types of lists help new users get started, and acquiring fresh users is something Digg needs to do.
Even if this hand-picked version of the SUL isn’t sustainable, it should give the company a boost in terms of new user engagement and retention.
Adding Content Is Much Easier
One of the first things that struck us when we finally got to the new Digg homepage was the prominence of the “Digg It” option. It looks and feels like the Facebook Publisher box. Whenever you enter in a link, it imports the title, finds images from the link, and lets gives you write a description and choose a topic. After that, all you have to do is click “Digg It,” and the link is broadcast to the Digg universe.
There are some other nice features about the new publishing box. For example, if you put in a link for a story that’s already been submitted, it will alert you to the fact and display the Digg information for that specific link, complete with sharing tools and a Digg button. It’s also a ubiquitous box: you will find it on many of the other pages in the New Digg.
Clearly, Digg is placing an emphasis on getting people to add more content and articles to the social news hub. As we’ve reported before, there is an option in the New Digg to link your RSS feed to your Digg account and auto-submit your posts for the community’s consideration.
Content discovery has changed in the new version of Digg. There are two tabs on the top left of the interface: My News
and Top News
My News is the default homepage for all users. Unlike the current version of Digg, where content bubbles up from the overall community, the new version focuses on content coming from your friends and followers.
The new homepage no longer shows who submitted a story, but instead focuses on which of your friends dugg it. Even the sidebar focuses on how many of the people you follow have dugg a story, rather than whether or not a friend of your submitted it.
We welcome the change. It democratizes the site a bit more by reducing the need for publisher to hit the front page of Digg in order to generate any traffic. We saw content with between 16 and 150 Diggs on our personalized feed of news.
However, long-time Digg users don’t have to worry. “Top News” is just like the current version of Digg, focusing on the top content from the collective Digg community. You can even sort top content by day, week, or month. There seems to be a minimum Digg count to appear on the week or month Top News charts though, as we only saw three news items between the two tabs.
The overhaul not only focused on the algorithms and content discovery, but also on the interface itself. It’s definitely faster, cleaner, and more social. In our tests, we found it incredibly simple to navigate and a pleasure on the eyes. Unlike the last version of Digg, this is something that new users can quickly pick up and understand.
It’s not perfect, though. Search still needs some work. For example, we found the exact same content from Mashable when we tried to resort by “Most Recent” or “Best Match.” Hopefully this is a small bug that will quickly be resolved.
Overall though, the New Digg is a remarkable improvement over its predecessor. It keeps much of the old look and feel of Digg, while giving it a much-needed refresh and emphasis on the social graph. Expect the new version to launch for all users very soon.