Web Site Redesign: Dos and Don’ts

Case Study: Digg

The poster child for failed redesigns has got to be Digg, the news aggregator that is in a race to the bottom with MySpace for how many members it can lose. In the case of Digg, the problem began before the redesign. According to Website Magazine, it became clear that the site was essentially in the hands of a small, active clique who controlled what appeared on the front page and what didn’t. 

The new design was intended to stem some of the abuses noted in the Website Magazine article. Instead, they made it worse. SearchEngineLand detailed the long list of changes for the bad, which all boiled down to one thing: users lost power.

“Digg was created as a power-to-the-people type of thing. When you strip away the power, of course there will be a backlash,” said Jim Elliston, president and co-founder of Clover, which offers professional site development for businesses and individuals.

The other mistake they made was just dropping the redesign on people. One day people went to the Digg they thought they knew and this new one was staring them in the face. This was the mistake of several other recent redesigns as well.

“Whether a site was fantastic or very utilitarian design, everyone got used to the design. Then they went and changed it and they made harsh changes. They didn’t bring audiences in through beta releases. The perception they gave off was we don’t care about our users, we have to make money,” said Giovanni Calabro, vice president of user experience for Siteworx, a site design company.

Create a new thread in the Streaming Video & TVs forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
Comment from the forums
    Your comment
  • burnley14
    It was ugly but you knew what you were getting. That’s one of the problems; they are trying to do too much

    Yep, exactly. I remember reading an article in the past about a Yahoo! spokesperson complaining that Google was too bland and had too few features. This quote certainly explains the disparity in search engine usage. People just want a site that does what it's supposed to, not one that's plagued with gobs and gobs of unnecessary crap bloating up the page and hogging bandwith.
  • dotaloc
    instead of "don't change a thing"...offer css variant, like 'themes'...so that a theme can be specified and implemented when a user logs in or the preference stored by cookies or something.

    it'll keep people interested, without forcing the change on them.
  • NoseNuthin
    I find it astonishing that some people still have 20+ page articles with the only navigation options being 'next' and 'previous' !!! :)

    Maybe they should patent the papperback that cannot be opened at any page other than the first every time you start to read.
  • HaakonXCI
    Another site that seems to be getting cluttered is Youtube. While it still functions rather well, it seems like there's going to be too much clutter in the future when you start having a "control panel" theme going on in the comments section and the new playlist popup that feels unnecessary to be on the main page as an overlay rather than previously on the right.
  • spoonless_eddie
    Every man with a mouse is a web designer. So we think.

    As both a designer and a tech writer, I have been accused of imposing simplicity on inherently complex subjects, as if this was wrong-headed or deceitful in some way. "Yup" I say, "that's exactly what I do." This is, or should be, the design process. Between "Every tool the user owns should be immediately available" and "Every tool the user owns should be on the bench at the same time" there is a difference that many so-called designers cannot grasp.

    For me, this article was a bit long winded. An "Executive Summary" would have been useful.
  • razor512
    the digg design is ok the thing that ruined it is removing features such as the subcategories such as top images in 24 hours and many others.

    They also removed the power of the users by letting people submit their own content. The goal of the old site was for regular users to submit content that they found interesting and the community did not accept users submitting their own content. Now digg allows content owners to have special accounts where they can automatically submit their own crap and have it end up on the front page with as little at 15 diggs while regular users need like 100+ diggs to get even close to the front page

    The content on the site is not worth looking at because 90% of it is basically sponsored links. Most of the digg related online shows have shut down because they cant get get good content from digg anymore because that content is basically all advertisements because most of it is junk content that is comparable to the sponsored submissions which most users used to adblock.
  • Tattysnuc
    Tom's should be speaking from experience here... when the new site was rolled out all those years ago, it shook up too much at once, leaving me having to search for content rather than read it.

    This waffly artical could benefit from following their benchmarking structure. It doesn't even follow the structure of Start-middle-end. It just starts, and then chucks overly worded examples at you!

    Where's the conclusion page?