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If you’re a user of Digg, you should know that it recently redesigned and relaunched its website. This in itself is not that interesting since we always knew that was coming soon – however, what is interesting is that new categories have been added which make the site more useful to a wider audience.

From a design perspective, the site still looks and feels the same – clean Web 2.0 goodness with solid information architecture and all the most important bits in the right places.

What is different are the additional top level categories (where Technology is still the default on entering the site) in the left menu. These new channels include entertainment, gaming, science, world & business and online video. Underneath those top level categories are a number of new topics that aren’t technology related, which is where my interest lies.

One of the features I really like is that if you’re logged in as a user, you can define the categories and topics that you see on the home page – so now you have a filtered “wisdom of the crowds approach”. Which makes the site more useful and also further motivates me to add my own content.

Digg has been one of those Web 2.0 success stories that started off modestly, but has grown into something of a phenomenon. To date it has surpassed Slashdot and seems to be close to surpassing the NY Times in terms of page views, so there is no doubt of it’s popularity.

When you take the sheer number of page views it’s getting daily, then add new topics which bolster its general appeal, with the ability to alter what you see by default on the home page, then I think you’re starting to see something which is both a useful tool but also something that will rival most portals in it’s ability to find relevant content quickly.

The internet is simply too big nor for any one person to get a handle on – so the wisdom of the crowds approach is one of the better ways of getting to good content – if lots of other people find things worth Digg’ing, then chances are that it will be interesting for you too. The opposite is true, and perhaps this is where the real power of Digg lies.

What is interesting are the categories and topics that have been chosen for the relaunch (from a database and code perspective, I imagine that adding new categories and topics would be trivial) – they are clearly niches that probably already have a higher percentage of savvy internet users, so I feel that the new topics and categories have been chosen well – certainly well enough to keep growing their user base and creating additional appeal and usefulness to non-users.

For me, the takeaway is clearly the value of using a “crossing the chasm” approach to generating buzz, getting users on board, and growing your market share, rather than the technology or features underneath the hood.


Published 17 July, 2006 by Gareth Knight

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