Why The New Digg Will Fail To Win Over Audience

There have been a lot of questions about the relevance of Digg.com to today’s internet. Is Digg – which at one point in time was famous for driving server-annihilating levels of traffic to small time websites – dead?

Kevin Rose, the founder of the popular social news aggregation service has asked his loyal users to hold on. He says that the new version-4 of Digg will be momentous and will revive the declining numbers at Digg. Here, in this video, Rose explains what the new version of Digg will look like

But I am highly skeptical about Digg’s ability to make a come-back. Not because I doubt Rose’s abilities. But because Digg v4 fails to address the right parameter.

My Digg’s followers are NOT My friends
The new version of Digg is meant to increase personalization. Users will now be taken to a section called ‘My News’ which is basically an assortment of news collated from a user’s contacts. The presumption is that the user shares his/her interests with their followers and hence the personalized version should appeal to users.

That presumption itself might be wrong. A user’s followers on Digg are vastly different from the user’s Facebook friends. Digg’s latest avatar might take off really well if this was done by Facebook simply because our Facebook friends are most often our real-life contacts who we share our interests with. Digg followers are random internet strangers who you may have started following because they were the only ones to have dugg your story last week. While this approach may still appeal to the highly loyal Digg userbase, it might not work for a majority. And it is this not-so-loyal majority that Digg is actually wooing with the new design. The loyal users have always been there.

Digg is no longer the NEWS-BREAKER
For close to fifteen hours now, the first link on the tech news aggregator, Techmeme, has been pointing to a recent news about iTunes being hacked. I just checked Digg and realize that the news – despite the good number of diggs, is still on the ‘Upcoming’ section.

Kevin Rose’s team has to get one thing right – the site has to primarily appeal to the casual visitor who may not even have a Digg.com account or be digging stories. And one of the most important factors why this number is falling is because stories on the Digg homepage are no longer the latest. There are several avenues today – including Facebook and Twitter – where breaking news is served. Unless Digg modifies its layout to serve the most timely news, the site will continually see declining numbers.

What Needs To Be Done?
Digg needs to keep its site simple. That is what people love. Users do not want increasing personalization. They might not know their followers – so, they do not simply care about what news stories their followers share. Digg only needs to be more relevant to the casual visitor.

This can be simply done by bringing increasing prominence to the ‘Upcoming section – sorted by most diggs’. This is the most important section on Digg – one that is most timely and also has enough community backing to be relevant for a user’s read. Digg needs to bring this section to the homepage for it to be a frequented destination among users.

What do you think? Do you like the new Digg layout? Write in the comments.