Welcome back old friend, and I do mean old. The last time I subjected myself to what the Digg front page had become, it was on a brand new, super-fast iPhone 3GS. What’s worse is that even then it was only curiosity. In earlier years, Digg seemed like the thing that would make the Internet readable. If it could just get enough users or the right users, the stories that should interest me would filter right to the top.
Well, it’s 2012 now, and we’re almost three iPhone generations from that curiosity check. Between a highly evolved RSS list, Twitter, Instapaper, and plenty of other sources, I have lots to read. Most of it is formatted cleanly with good typography. The old Digg did not fit in. But now, under new ownership, comes the well-named Digg v1.
First of all, Digg v1 looks like a 2012 citizen; that alone is a great start. No matter how many features were piled onto the old Digg, it still looked like an old site with new features. Not anymore.
Statistics on the number of Diggs or Likes are easily accessible but not overbearing. The color scheme is much more subdued, making the site look less like an early 2000’s animated banner-ad haven and more like an online newspaper.
Signup is easy if you’re not philosophically opposed to ubiquitous Facebook sign in. I’m not as long as I can tell the site not to post on my behalf, which with Digg v1 is the case. Bonus points for prominent placement of the “Delete Account” button in the settings menu.
Story links go straight to the source, no truncated preview page to click through, no banner following you around to the article’s website. Unlike many digital newspaper type sites, Digg v1 helps drive traffic to the original source, rather than taking it away. Not even Instapaper, a service that tries to keep the audience on the content owner’s site whenever possible, can boast as direct a connection to the original source.
Speaking of Instapaper (AppStore Link), Digg is yet another site that now saves articles for later. In this specific case, it’s called “Save to iPhone.” If you have the Digg iPhone app, which also benefits from the visual upgrade to Digg v1—probably even more so than the website—you can go back to your saved articles and read them. Novel, I know.
On the iPhone, Digg presents a cleanly formatted text and image only version of the article first (which makes sense on a mobile device). At the end of each article there is a “Read this on … ” button that I wish was at the top of the article. It’s a nice looking app and sports the optional Paperboy feature of updating based on your location.
I did run into some problems with the new Digg, mostly in the form of the 504 Gateway Timeout page. Really it’s two strikes against a product trying to prove that it’s better than its predecessor. For some, Facebook sign in and timeouts will be enough to keep Digg right where it was a week ago, not on anyone’s radar. For others, the redesign might be just enough to bring them back to an old friend.
I’ve bookmarked the site again, but deleted the app. I already have a read later service, but crowd-sourced news? I’m willing to try it again.