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News aggregator Digg relaunched last week with a new ad-free design that puts more emphasis on big images to lure in readers.

It is a big step away from its previous design that displayed all links in the same way, and now looks more akin to a curated news site, as opposed to an aggregator.

The way stories reach the homepage has also been changed – it no longer relies on diggs from regular users and instead takes into account shares on Facebook and Twitter as well as employing editors to curate the content.

For old users or those familiar with the previous site the new version is almost unrecognisable, so it seems Digg’s new owners have realised that the old way didn’t work and are pitching for a whole new audience.

But in the short term most of its traffic is going to be from previous users who want to see how the new site works. 

So with this in mind, here are several issues that we think will prevent Digg from rekindling its relationship with its old users...

1. The lead image is too big

The homepage is less like a social news site and more like a traditional news agency site, with one massive lead story surrounded by apparently less important articles.

It’s certainly eye-catching, but means there’s no space on the page for other articles, which leads me to my next point...

2. Where’s all the content?

Due to the way the page is laid out the number of stories you can view is extremely limited. On my Macbook Air I can only see three headlines without scrolling down, which isn’t great for a news aggregator site.

In the old days Digg was quite text-heavy but it meant that you could view many more links, thereby making content discovery far easier.

The ‘Upcoming’ section has a layout that is more akin to the old design but it's hidden right at the bottom of the page.

3. It looks like Pinterest

It looks as if the designers have seen how popular Pinterest is and used it as a template for the new site. Articles are laid out in three columns with loads of white space around each one.

The borders are poorly defined making it difficult to scan the articles for something you might actually want to read.

Again, this makes content discovery extremely difficult and all but negates one of the main reasons for using a site like Digg.

3. They’ve killed all the old URLs

None of the old content exists anymore; instead you see a white page with ‘404: Not Found’ in the top left of the screen. This has led to much headshaking here at Econsultancy.

According to Google Digg has 14m links indexed but all of them now point to nothing. This may just be a short-term issue caused by the redesign, but it seems an odd decision to buy a company only to erase everything that made it a success in the first place.

4. It doesn’t say who posted the links

It’s hard to tell who posted the links that appear on the homepage, probably because most of them have been uploaded by Digg’s own content editors.

When I looked only one of the articles said ‘via xx’, the others simply displayed the URL of the original source.

This is a major problem as it gets rid of Digg’s social element and makes it just like any other news site.

5. Facebook login

Like so many other sites these days, the only way to login to Digg is through a Facebook account. It also publishes all your diggs in your news feed.

If you had an old Digg login, forget it, as it’s no longer valid.

Digg says this is a short-term fix to cut down on spam while it works towards a more lasting solution, but shouldn’t this have been sorted out before the relaunch?

Ultimately it’s going to annoy a lot of legacy users - many of whom leave comments using aliases - and will stop them from logging into the site.

6. It needs to build discussion, fast

What used to be one of the internet’s most popular talking shops is now bereft of users and it needs to do something to quickly entice people to start discussing news on the site again.

Digg’s decline coincided with a steady rise in popularity for other sites such as Reddit and Hacker News, and it’s going to be tricky to entice them back.

A site like Digg relies on discussion and debate to encourage users to return to the site and at the moment this is sorely lacking.

Content marketer Lyndon Antcliff points out that the new redesign is too clean and “plastic” to get social media geeks really excited.

“Sites like this need passion, as the reality is without it they are just lumps of crafted digital data with an advertising banner on top. It needs rabid fans.”

7. It doesn’t seem to have any category pages

As pointed out by marketing consultant Dan Barker, the new Digg apparently doesn’t have any categorisation or ‘hub’ pages.

This is important both for users who want an easy way to find the content that interests them, and also for search engine rankings.

So, what do you think of the new Digg? Tell us in the comments below.

David Moth

Published 6 August, 2012 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1684 more posts from this author

Comments (13)

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dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

"It seems an odd decision to buy a company only to erase everything that made it a success in the first place"

For what it's worth, I think this is a case of 'innocence' vs 'conspiracy'. I think that the team handling the redesign simply did not know the mistakes they were making here. (the missing 404 page is probably the best example of that: You're killing off several million pages. If you realised that, you'd at least fail a little more elegantly, right?)

Digg is a slightly odd situation in that it was bought 3 times from what I can gather:

1. LinkedIn acquired their patent portfolio for $3.5m. (which was apparently 1 patent & a couple of handfuls of patent applications)
2. The Washington Post paid $12m for their (very experienced) team.
3. The 'remaining assets' (ie. the site itself, presumably with some conditions) went to Betaworks.

The new digg.com is the result of a 6-week 'sprint' by betaworks to redevelop it.

Sadly it seems they've very much thrown the baby out with the bathwater.

Hopefully they're taking note & fixing quickly. Tough job though!

dan

about 4 years ago

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Hundefutter

For me it does not work any longer. And why the heck should I join facebook just to get my bookmarks in place? There are much better solution out!

about 4 years ago

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Nick Stamoulis

Why would I want to invest my time and energy in a site that's going to kill my links some day? I can't believe Digg killed 14 million old links. That's not the best way to keep older users happy.

about 4 years ago

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Sinbad

For me there is no longer any point in visiting the Digg page. If I want curated (edited) news I prefer to go the free online editions of several highly respected newspapers which have very experienced and professional writers and editors to organize their content instead of a bunch of dubiously qualified web designers.

And without the ability to comment there is no social value to the site. Worse, if every comment is also displayed or at least retained in the Facebook system then commenters must be much more circumspect in their remarks and that sort of defeats the open and rapid exchange of ideas and opinions that was at the heart of the old Digg. RIP Digg.

about 4 years ago

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Sirius Star

I was using digg for past 4 and half years. But now all my links killed.

about 4 years ago

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Depesh Mandalia, Head of Digital Marketing at Lost My Name

Their RSS feed also seems to have been lost (which I enjoyed using in iGoogle)

Looks like they've gone for design over substance especially compared to the old Digg, which definitely was substance over design!

And the 404 page is a complete waste of time - considering it may well end up being their most popular page for a few weeks you'd expect some useful links or even a search box to find something relevant... it all feels rushed

about 4 years ago

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Depesh Mandalia, Head of Digital Marketing at Lost My Name

Spotted this too "We are building Digg for 2012" - from the looks of it and the lack of features, 2012 was a poor year for social media (!)

In all seriousness they're looking to roll out updates over time to bring Digg back up to a level we expect (on their new platform) but who knows how long that could take and whether anyone will care about Digg at that point?

about 4 years ago

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Dan

I'm a (former) longtime Digg user, having posted many thousands of messages. I stuck it out with v4, but I don't like the new Digg.

I agree that the images are too large, making the stories too spread out. I don't like Reddit because the text is too dense. The images of the old Digg could have been a little larger, but otherwise I thought the story density was near-perfect.

I really don't care about the old content, and I'm perfectly fine if it never sees the light of day again. Frankly, all of that content is old and stale. It probably makes sense from an SEO perspective to keep all of it, but that's about it.

The problem with Digg is that it progressively moved the "social networking" out of the site. I don't want to log in with Facebook, or Twitter, or any other service. I liked the old Digg where you could actually communicate with people on your friends list, and monitor friends' activities, and do your social networking ON THE SITE. And I liked the anonymity.

I don't think the new Digg was ever intended to be Digg v5. I think the News.me folks wanted to build their news aggregation site, and $500k bought them a ton of publicity.

about 4 years ago

Andy Williams

Andy Williams, Digital Marketing Manager at Koozai

As Dan pointed out, the new version of Digg was created in 6 weeks and it shows.

This new version doesn't do it for me, I'm against needing a Facebook account to login and even though I didn't have the strongest of accounts before I'm not exactly happy that it has now simply disappeared.

I am sure there are new features on the way, if "this is it" then this is a huge fail.

about 4 years ago

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Creation Media

So disappointed with this. I used to love Digg but on the new version the the usability is awful. Only having facebook login is restrictive and it seems impossible to see your links once you have posted them. Poorly thought out, I won't be coming back!

about 4 years ago

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Jane

I also used digg for a long time but now I now I think I won't use it anymore. Moreover, I don't like to be forced to log in through fb. I prefere having a choice. After all, digg is dying and there are vultures around the corner ;)http://ping.it/blog/its-a-dog-eat-digg-world-out-there-pingers/

about 4 years ago

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Charles Hyman

What happened to "SEARCH" that was located on the "old" DIGG page?

about 4 years ago

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shadez

i have more privacy concerns with these idiots than facebook as such. removing normal login and forcing people to use FB and then messup ones wall is absolute bullcrap imho!
am removing bing from my complete bizand web profiles.
thanks for the writeup mate. helped clear all the doubts i had...

over 3 years ago

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