Thursday, December 27, 2007

Digg Report 1 : "D" Rating

Digg receives a total of 62 points out of the possible 100 giving it a letter grade of "D". Below is a breakdown of how the website did in each category and a summary of the judging comments.

The 10 different areas are worth 10 pts. each:

1) User Friendliness : 7pts. = "C"
How easy the site is to learn and use?

To the novice Digg user, the site is confusing to say the least. The interface is very clean, however it is a little misleading of where to go or what to do. One judge claimed that 70% of Digg users are not actual members. While this says great things about the content of Digg, it reflects poorly on the user experience. For the avid Digg user there is no better system...but let's face it; the majority of Diggers are very active internet users that have plenty of time to spend surfing and learning new systems. The initial interface one sees on Digg is a list of linked stories. Searching for new content is much easier than old. Uploading new content is cumbersome. But ultimately, Digg is not much more than a file sharing site...not a site to make friends but one rather to promote one's work. We give it a 7 for its unclear navigation and slow speed of the system.

2) Amount of Content : 9pts. = "A"
How much stuff they have to look at?

Digg is the ultimate content site. Users can find anything ranging from science to off beat news. Videos and article links make up the majority of the content on the system. With the clever Digg mechanism of burying bad content and Digging good content, the goal is to always have the best content rise to the front page for all to see. However, this is not always the case as a good amount of time poor content makes its way to the front. There is only so much the program can do to ensure the best content makes the front, but with spammers infiltrating the system and asking their so-called friends to Digg their content, poor content rises to the top. Another down side to the system is that the content on Digg is not original to Digg. Having original content is not the goal of Digg, but many of Digg's members take advantage of other people by taking credit for the content being linked to the site in an effort to become popular Diggers. Overall the content is great and there isn't much to complain about so we give Digg a 9 for their content.

3) Amount of Users : 7pts. = "C"
How many users are on site?

People flock to Digg to find the most up to date news on the internet. With millions of people reading Digg articles it is a great location to get your website noticed. As we said before, the majority of Digg users are not actual members. Most are on Digg to look at the most up to date news. This is extremely evident once an article becomes popular enough to reach the front page. Once an article hits the front, the amount of "Diggs" sky-rockets because the content is in front of the eyes of millions. This exposure drives traffic to other websites in an fantastic way, many times having an adverse effect on the site that got "Dugg" ultimately crashing the server. While this demonstrates the power of Digg, it also shows that there aren't as many real members inside the system really making it spin. Those actual users in the system tend to have the most power to drive traffic to entries they wish to promote. 7pts. for not having as many actual members on the system as observers.

4) Extra Features : 3pts. = "F"
How much extra stuff do they have to do?

Digg has 2 main features: Creating linked content to other websites articles/videos, and having a very basic, but clean, profile where you can store articles you like and communicate with other Diggers. While these features are great for members, the majority of social network enthusiasts might find it basic and boring. But it's time to rejoice readers! Digg just gave users the capability to add a picture caption to your linked entry! Wow! Sarcasm aside, Digg is good for what it does but the features are lacking, which is why judges give them a 3...ouch.

5) General Mission of Site : 8pts. = "B"
Does the company have a good mission?

While there is no evident slogan for Digg, the mission statement is very clear: Bring the best content on the internet to the users in one interactive environment. This mission is a fantastic strategy that is very ambitious. The majority of the time users have no problems with the content rising the the top, however, as no site is perfect, a good amount of time poor content surfaces in the wrong places. While it is difficult to control this, it is something that should be worked on. But overall judges are very pleased with the overall mission as Digg has not deviated from their course. A very positive 8.

6) User Involvement : 3pts. = "F"
How much do users affect Development/Management?

The overall system of Digg has not changed much since its initial launch and is still immensely popular. Thus Digg follows the mantra, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". However, there is obviously a missed opportunity when the readers far out number the actual number of members. Digg users have been demanding more features for some time. Many don't like the friend cap, others hate the "shouting" mechanism and wish to block individual users, while many wish the site to be more fair to those that blog and don't have the staying power of larger websites on the internet. There are many complaints but Digg usually doesn't do much about it much to the angst of the user. Does instant success really shut down the ability to listen? Our judges love the concept of Digg but we hope they aren't shooting themselves in the foot by not tapping into their best resource...their user-base...3pts.

7) Company Loyalty : 8pts. = "B"
How much the company cares about it's users?

We know that most Digg users are extremely devoted to Digg and the same can be said vice versa. An example of how strongly Digg users support Digg will be the backlash to this very critique of the Digg site. The strong reaction we will get as result of our sub-par overall analysis of Digg, is proof that users are genuinely happy with the Digg system and feel a strong tie to the founders. The company is loyal to its users because they know they can't put up the large volume of content on a day to day basis to remain popular. Digg would receive a higher rating in this particular section if they actually listened closely to what their users wanted and not be afraid to improve a good thing... or they might find themselves in a similar situation as Myspace...8pts.

8) Social Responsibility : 5pts. = "F"
Does the company operate in the best interest of the community?

Social Responsibility for Digg received mixed reviews that averaged out to a 5. Some judges claimed that all Digg wants to do is create advertising revenue by using content from other websites. Digg capitalizes off of other sites because they don't have to worry about bandwidth costs as they direct traffic to other sites. Yet, at the same time they make monumental amounts of money on advertising from the links to those outside party sites. This received a negative ranking. On the other hand, other judges thought Digg gave power to smaller sites and blogs to get their word out about their particular ideas or causes and give them a real voice in the large vacuum of the internet. It's tough to tell what motivation Digg really has and thus they will receive a big fat 5.

9) How Green the Company Operates : 5pts. = "F"
Does the company operate with the best interest of the environment in mind?

Digg is a link sharing site. Since all the content on Digg is not original to Digg they save enormous amounts of money on bandwidth costs and yet make even more money on advertising. This simple solution is actually a very Green concept. Since Digg is directing their traffic to third party sites and thus cutting down on storage space they are using and emitting less carbon waste. They also have a fantastic environment section and there are Diggers on the site that only Digg Green content. The problem with Digg is that they don't push the Green concept. It is the responsibility of large networks to push positive thinking on the internet. Judges say that the majority of the time the users seem more interested in living in a fantasy land (Digging about various video game terminals) rather than focusing on the real world. Digg gets a 5 for not getting their user base to evolve and grow up.

10) How Cool the site is : 7pts. = "C"
Can you see this being a cool site for whoever it's target user is?

Any Digg user will tell you that Digg is the coolest site on the internet. There is a strong case to be made that Digg is one of the better concepts since there are countless number of copy cats out their mimicking their design through 3rd party open source platforms like Pligg. Even though these users claim that it is the best environment for communications there is a flaw. As was previously mentioned the majority of Digg users are not members...they are there just to see what the newest content is. In order to grow and become cooler to those users that don't sign up they must create additional features that are appealing to the wide scope of internet users. Some may say that Digg members don't want users that don't enjoy the system...but the ultimate goal of any company is to continue to grow and to expand its reach to more people. Digg is a cool site but it needs to continue to evolve to become cooler to the masses-7.

Total Score = 62 pts. = "D"

3 Ways to Improve

1) Even though Digg is generally classified as a social bookmarking site we can see them growing into a fully functional social networking site if they were to flesh out their anemic profile and put in a few more networking features. Digg has done a wonderful job focusing on it's core goal of making a streamlined and efficient link site, however, Digg users want more. A few of the judges comments conveyed the fact that Digg participants take ownership and pride in the site in being strong contributors of content for Digg's community, but sounded almost ashamed that they had to venture over to Myspace or Facebook to complete their internet experience. Evolving to compete with the larger networks is a crucial development for Digg. If they continue development, Digg loyalists will push the network to gobble up a significant share of the social networking industry.

2) Take an active role in promoting positive movements on the net. Make sure to listen to your users to make sure that the causes reflect the passions of the users. Once you have a bearing on the pulse of your users figure out ways to help them get their message out. An easy one would be to feature the "Environment" section so people visit and use that section. Judges said they had to go into 3 sub drop-down menus to get to it. Another strategy that would cost them little would be to create a "Charity" or "Cause" section designed to help users: promote their favorite cause, collaborate on project, recruit volunteers, raise money, etc. Digg has become a juggernaut in a internet world and is about to go through puberty now that they have reached the masses. Will they mature into a force for good or sell out like the superficial Myspace?

3) Overcome the large discrepancy of people who only view articles to the ones who actually post. Implementing recommendation #1 of developing the social networking aspects of the site would make the site more sticky. If people spend just a little more time on the site judges felt that, "They would discover how easy and well designed the posting process is." Developing an animated or video tutorial that explains what Digg is all about is a great first step. Have a "Tutorials" Link in the corner and maybe have them automatically play as they are filling out their profile section. The videos should be simple, short (less than 30 seconds), and fun. It is hard to create another social network to compete with the already saturated industry, however Digg could really capitalize on their unique customer loyalty and tremendous momentum and give the big boys a run for their money.

1 comment:

Russet Shadows said...

Guys, it's "flesh out", not "flush out" unless you're talking about taking a poop. Also, social responsibility and green ratings don't tell you anything about how usable the site is. I couldn't care less about that stuff. Digg does have some areas for improvement, but a D? Come on.