After a month of testing the new alpha version to invite-only users, Digg’s redesigned site is live for everyone. The new interface and functionality of the social news network focuses on the personalized news stream, “My News,” which shows stories dugg by users you choose to follow (similar to Twitter), rather than the most popular news (note: at press time, the new site is still experiencing some downtime issues).
The company has had a turbulent year. In April, Founder Kevin Rose became CEO after Jay Adelson stepped down, reportedly in part because Digg’s venture capitalists were frustrated that they had yet to see a return on the $40 million invested in the company despite staff cuts in 2009 to improve profitability.
The site has also been struggling with a decline in traffic, according to Compete.com, only further increasing the pressure to reinvent itself. Is this redesign really the re-imagining of a social platform or just a band-aid that will only stop the bleeding temporarily?
A New Digg Experience
This site also has an improved content submission process. The “Digg It” submission bar appears prominently at the top center of the page. Users no longer have to navigate to a separate page to submit content, and users can also easily share submissions via Twitter, Facebook or e-mail. Digg also has a range of new, unique features, such as saving stories to read for later.
The SUL and Working with Publishers
Taking more cues from Twitter, the new Digg makes it easier to discover users to follow with its own version of the Suggested User List, which includes media publishers and celebrity figures like Ashton Kutcher, who, by the way, doesn’t have nearly as many followers (4,000+) as he does on Twitter.
The SUL and Digg’s initiative to recruit big brands to follow seems to be paying off. Some of the accounts listed, including Mashable, have grown from a few hundred followers to thousands in just a month. In an e-mail sent to publishers this week, Digg’s new Product Manager Mike Cieri highlighted Digg’s help page for new publishers and its plans to “help publishers drive traffic and revenue, including improved analytics and reporting, additional incoming feed capabilities, and improving the discovery process to ensure all publishers are being found and followed on Digg.” Working with brands and publishers has helped generate user interest and revenue for sites like Foursquare and Twitter, and Digg will likely try to do the same.
Too Much or Too Little Too Late?
Despite the many improvements to the interface and overall experience on the site, only time will tell as to whether the redesign is too much or too little too late. First, the redesign may be too much of a shift for Digg’s core users, who have traditionally have driven much of the activity on the site, even after the “Top Digger” list was removed. Because the emphasis is now on a self-curated stream, its top diggers may be alienated. However, if the new functionality works to attract a more mainstream userbase, then Digg still wins.
Alternatively, the changes may not be enough. Digg is clearly taking lessons from the likes of Twitter and Facebook in regards to how content is being shared on those platforms. But is this new redesign enough? After all, content submission is still largely automated through a link submission process or an RSS feed, and the comments, opinions and conversation is mostly secondary part of the experience. This is still far from Facebook and Twitter, where the opinion and commentary of the user sharing the content is nearly as important as the content itself, featured prominently on in the Twitter stream or Facebook News Feed with the link or content blurb below.
What Digg may benefit from is the new seamlessness of the submission and consumption processes. Users that are looking for a curated stream alongside the popular content can do it on Digg. The majority of Digg’s userbase will likely find the new design refreshing and it very well may gain some traction among users that feel overwhelmed with the real-time news stream or the pontifications in their news feed. Better yet, Digg may attract a whole new audience looking for a place to discover news through curated sources.
What are your thoughts? Do you like the new Digg? Will the new version attract more users to the struggling social news site or is it taking its last breaths?
By Mashable: http://www.mashable.com