How does a company go from being worth almost $164 million to getting sold for parts in just a few years? In the case of Digg, for a large part the answer is: By not listening to its users.
“The good news for Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and everyone else is that Digg’s fate was avoidable,” writes Jeff Bercovici in this article for Forbes. It’s fall was “self-inflicted, the result of discreet and obvious missteps.” Built on a fanatical core user base, Digg made the mistake of not only ignoring those members’ distaste for changes made as part of its “Version 4″ makeover, but actively inviting their feedback, then ignoring them. “The Diggers were invited to give them a feeling that they were part of the process,” Bercovici writes, “but not actually to be part of the process.”
Bercovici’s piece points out at least two core lessons to take away from the downfall of Digg: 1) “User experience has to be paramount;” and 2) “The less you do, the more important it is to do it right.” Whereas users come to Facebook for a wide variety of reasons, users came to Digg for one thing: aggregated news stories that let users vote on them. Once it began getting that wrong (at least in the minds of its core users), the end was nigh.
As Bercovici puts it, “If the Olive Garden changes its pizza recipe and people don’t like the new ones, it can ride out the waves. If Pizza Hut does it…that’s the problem.”