Dedicated users of the story submission and rating site Digg.com are still revolting against the site’s new design and features. Adding insult to injury, they aren’t just voicing their disapproval with comments and direct posts, either. Users are “digging” stories that are auto-submitted from Reddit – Digg’s major competitor.
Digg.com is a site that tracks popular web content (articles) based on user submissions and ratings. Many rely on this type of service to determine what’s worth reading. Publishers love sites that help bring them more traffic, while users love promoting specific content.
Mashable.com reported additional details, stating that they saw this coming. The angst being experienced by Digg’s powers-that-be is nothing new. Many top sites have hyped “better” versions to come, revealed little along the way, and wound up alienating their user base.
In a CNN.com article, Mashable’s Pete Cashmore points out that content publishers like the new site; users, however, are less than thrilled, with more than 600 of them “digging” a story that says the designer for the new layout should be fired.
There’s something to be learned here, and it applies especially to smaller business sites who vie to win over some of the big dog’s customers. While consultants, internal focus-groups, staff, friends and family may provide great input, your best source for what your customers will embrace are your customers. By including them – or at least a representative amount of them – in the decisionmaking process, you not only increase your chances of securing wider acceptance, but also converting their loyalty to your brand.
Digg’s goal was to make the site more social, so those who use Twitter could easily use Digg. The idea was that more people would begin using the service, and thus, Digg would make more money. They didn’t, however, plan on a revolt (despite complaints by beta testers) by its current user base – users who feel like the new site is too dummied down and that changes to the story ranking process make the results less credible.
It’s the difference between thinking users are idiots and treating them like idiots. Does that mean Digg shouldn’t have changed things at all? Absolutely not. Since its inception, Digg.com has catered to a specific type of Internet user, despite the fact it allows submissions across various categories that appeal to everyone. By streamlining the design and implementing an easier to understand navigation, Digg can increase its user base and, in turn, bring more exposure to lesser-seen articles. However, most Internet users don’t want their time to be wasted, and there’s certain “professional” elements that the old Digg offered. Digg has told users some of their favorite features will be returning, as they’re working in stages, but that, understandably so, isn’t enough to appease them.
Consider the following when overhauling your own business site or store:
- Loyal customers love you for a reason. Find out what works and doesn’t work for them in respect to navigation, features, and site flow. Many of them will provide you with detailed responses because they want you to succeed.
- Don’t be afraid to ask a few dedicated customers to be part of the decisionmaking process. People love to be part of making things happen.
- Select a few loyal shoppers to beta-test new features. Offer a gift certificate in exchange for their time. Don’t offer a discount, though, which is like a slap in the face because it requires them to spend more money with you. A gift certificate is like cash, and they’ll love redeeming it at your store. In terms of how much to give, base the value on the task and the prices of the products you sell. If the testing should take an hour or two, try to start at $25, and move up from there based on additional testing and feedback. Keep in mind that you’re saving money by gaining valuable feedback. In short, don’t be cheap.
- Take feedback seriously. Yes, some people just love to complain. Most, however, provide polite feedback because they want to keep shopping with you. Don’t ignore those who take the time to tell you what bothers them – for every one of them there are dozens who don’t say a thing.
As technology and trends change, so must our web sites and online stores. However, if you’re going to make significant changes, make sure to plan ahead and gain valuable input from existing customers. There’s no way to please everyone, but if the consensus is that something doesn’t work well, it probably doesn’t.