Digg.com, the beloved aggregator that rose to become one of the most influential sites on the web but then fell into disrepair, relaunched yesterday from a completely clean slate. None of the old Digg remains, and the 10-person team working on the project is calling the new site Digg version 1. The familiar list of links on the front page is gone, pushed aside in favor of a news-style layout curated by three editors who pick top stories and protect the site from spam.
The new Digg team is all from the Betaworks business incubator in New York that bought the Digg name, branding, and codebase. Betaworks developed the social news reading application News.me, which sparked its interest in Digg, and I interviewed some of the new team about what went into redesigning the site in six short weeks.
"Build something awesome, the internet is rooting for you."
I arrived at Betaworks yesterdayshortly before the new Digg site and iPhone app went live, and tension was high. The team pulled up a Twitter search for "Digg" and projected it on a wall to watch as the early reviews came in. The last time Digg had a major redesign, the users revolted and basically abandoned the site, leading to its downfall. "I feel like there's a lot of pressure," said Jake Levine, the new general manager of Digg. "People want to see Digg restored to what it once stood for."
Levine spent a recent Saturday reading through 3,500 responses to a user survey about the future of Digg. No less than 92 percent of respondents said they would not recommend the old Digg to a friend, but many were still rooting for the site. "People were surprisingly very positive and excited and optimistic," about the relaunch, said Levine, although "a handful of folks was just kind of trolling."
One survey respondent wrote: "build something awesome, the internet is rooting for you," Levine recalled. Those responses gave the Betaworks team license to completely rethink the site — the current version 1 is just the first iteration of a new Digg, which will be further refined as the team gets feedback from the community. "It's gonna be beautiful," said Levine. "And it's gonna solve a problem."