Digg resurrected – three lessons you can take from the redesign of the iconic site

Just a few weeks after the news broke Digg was sold for a paltry $US500,000, buyer Betaworks has shown off an early version of the redesigned network – and it actually looks pretty good.

The sale saw Betaworks pick up the networking site with the idea of turning it into more of a start-up. On its blog, the company has shown off the six-week long redesign project.

“We’re proud of what we’ve built over the last month-and-a-half, but today is just the beginning,” it said.

The site is completely stripped apart. Much of the complex social networking is gone, replaced with an emphasis on photography and fewer categories. Many of the features such as personalisation and event comments have been discarded for now, with the team saying they’ll be working on those features over the next few weeks.

For six weeks of work, it’s pretty impressive. Especially after Digg’s downfall had been chronicled over the past few years fairly explicitly.

There is no reason, however, to believe the new Digg will be successful. But in the past six weeks, the design team has managed to come up with some pretty critical improvements – and there’s definitely some lessons here small businesses can take away.

1. Bigger emphasis on photography

Plenty of design experts have been telling businesses the same thing lately – there needs to be a bigger emphasis on photography.

Digg has taken that message to heart, with one of the biggest changes to the site being the number and size of pictures on the main screen.

Using images and graphics are much better than slathering a page with text. Using high quality photography will not only save you work, but give your site a more professional feel.

2. Simple design

Less is more. The original Digg site was filled with text and a design that was quite complicated, even after the controversial “version 4” design changes.

Now, the site has a much sparser look. The categories at the top of the page are diluted into the most necessary, and the areas between each post contain enough white space to go easy on the eye. The white and black tone also looks much cleaner than the previous versions, which had a harsh focus on yellow.

It’s a step in the right direction – less is more. Don’t pack your website with features if they’re just getting in the way.

3. Be sure to include comments

One of the biggest attractions to a site like Digg is the community. But, for now, comments have been left out of the equation as Betaworks experiments with a few different features before bringing one in permanently.

While this is a disappointing choice, the site is still in beta and it’s understandable the company would not introduce a feature before committing to something subpar.

However, the act does represent a good lesson for SMEs in that commenting should be a part of your website – even if it’s not explicitly obvious where those comments should be.

In retail, it’s quite simple – comments should be allowed in forums, even on individual products. But for other businesses, where do you go?

The blog is a good first step. Set up a company blog – you should have one already – and then allow comments through there. The importance of this is that you’re allowing consumers to contact you apart from just calling the customer service line.

It’s removing the barriers between yourself and the purchaser, and is perhaps the most important feature you can add on your site.

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