digg newDo you use Digg to share your content and find online content? If you started publishing content or writing a blog within the past several years, than your answer to that question is probably no, but if you started your blog more than four years ago, your answer is most likely yes.

There was a time when Digg was the most popular social bookmarking site. Before Twitter and Facebook started to pick up users, Digg was a must-use site for online content promotion and search. That’s not the case anymore.

A company that was once valued at hundreds of millions of dollars was acquired by Betaworks, a technology investment firm, for $150,000 earlier this month. At the time of the announcement, a “new Digg” was promised, and earlier this week, screenshots and drawings of the new Digg were published to tease users about what was coming in a couple of days.

Protests from Loyal Digg Users

Digg still gets 16 million page views a month, and the users who have stuck with Digg through the years are very loyal. When the new Digg officially launched at Digg.com earlier today, those loyal users came out in droves to express their frustration, disappointment, and anger over the new design. From a new step that requires users to log in using their Facebook accounts (many loyal Digg users are also very anti-Facebook) to fewer stories presented on a single page, no categories, no search, and more — those loyal Digg users are not happy.

The team behind Digg responded quickly and explained that the new Digg is the product of a 6-week redesign, but that redesign was just the first step for the new Digg. They’re working on a way to bypass the Facebook login, which was supposedly added to reduce spam, but loyal users don’t buy it. Since all content that users digg is automatically added to their Facebook timelines (a feature that can be manually changed), users are calling the new Digg nothing more than a Facebook app. If you read through the comments on the new Digg announcement post, you can see what loyal users are unhappy about.

The New Digg from the Betaworks Perspective

But let’s take a look at the new Digg from a different perspective. People are never happy with change, and undoubtedly, Digg will lose some loyal users with the launch of its new design. History shows that most people will adapt and stick with the tool they’re comfortable with. The bigger goal for Betaworks is attracting new users.

At a time when images rule the web and Facebook is the place where a lot of people spend time and find content through friends’ posts, it’s not surprising that Betaworks is moving towards an image-heavy design — more like an online magazine or curated content site. The Facebook integration is also not surprising — whether people like it or not. From a business perspective, that’s a piece of the puzzle that few companies are willing to go against these days.

With that said, it’s always easier and less expensive to keep your current customers than it is to attract new ones, so Betaworks has to respond to loyal users’ frustrations very quickly. The company has a tough balancing act ahead of it:

  • Keeping loyal users happy and
  • Re-introducing Digg to an audience that wrote it off years ago and
  • Introducing new users to Digg who don’t remember it from five years ago and don’t know why it could be useful to them when Twitter, Facebook, and the other tools they’re already using provide them with aggregated content without logging into another site.

The Future of Digg

What do you think? Will you give Digg a chance or is the new design too little, too late?

By the way, as I was writing this, the new Digg.com site was down for quite awhile. It finally loaded as I was about to publish this article. That’s not good.