Betaworks' Digg Relaunch Has One Fatal Mistake

Digg v1

Betaworks bought Digg, the website, for about half a million. It’s a complicated sale. Linkedin acquired the patents, and Washington Post got the talent (the engineers).

The first thing Betaworks did was relaunch the site on August 1st. I noticed because their RSS feeds stopped working on Wopular. They had rebuilt and redesigned the site from scratch in just six weeks.

Design-wise, it’s now a three-column site - like Wopular (and Pinterest) - with headlines and thumbnails spread within each column. It doesn’t look as organized as before when headlines only occupy one column.

The Vote Up/Down graphic is heavily de-emphasized. Now, it not only shares the spotlight with Twitter and Facebook, the font size is also tiny. With a three-column layout, it almost has to, or it’ll look too cluttered.

The problem is, is it still Digg without the Vote Up/Down buttons? Not really. That’s their signature. It would be like Rotten Tomatoes without the Tomatometer.

The header is a throwback to earlier versions of Digg when the site was just three or so sections: Top Stories, Popular, and Upcoming. I welcome back the simplicity. There is a slight difference this time though. Before, each of those sections occupy a different page. Now, they’re just anchor tags that point to different areas of the homepage.

Come to think of it. The main content - the headlines - of this relaunch is just one page, like the Drudge Report! They’re gonna have a tough time trying to monetize that and support an entire team of engineers.

Their worst mistake is getting rid of Digg's archive of Dugg articles. With the exception of the homepage and several pages linked to on the footer, Digg’s 13M or so pages on Google’s index all go to an error page. It’s just a matter of time before the search engine starts to purge them from their results. When that happens, kaboom! There goes at least 60% of Digg’s users. You see, most sites get a majority of their traffic from search.

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