Digg v1 will launch this week after a six-week sprint to rebuild the site from scratch. Here’s a first glimpse.

We want the new Digg to deliver the best of what the Internet is talking about right now. It must be alive and responsive to its participants. When we asked people in the v1 survey why they visit Digg, the overwhelming answer was to find, read and share great stories. This mapped well to our four goals:

  1. We make it easy to find, read, and share the most interesting and talked about stories on the Internet right now.
  2. The experience must be fast and thin. Let users go, and they will come back to you. We optimize for return visits, not pageviews per visit.
  3. Build an experience that is native to each device: smart phone, inbox, Web page. Stories must find the user, wherever they are. 
  4. Users must be able to share where they and their friends already are — on networks like Facebook, Twitter and email.

v1 Design
It seems to us that what the Internet is talking about is too rich to be properly represented by a list of headlines. Some stories are bigger and have more impact than others; some stories are actually components of larger ones. Some stories can be told with text; others are best told through images. So when we set about to rethink Digg we started with design.

These are some of the earliest mock-ups for the new Digg (and by earliest, we mean a few weeks old):

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Here’s a closer look of the wireframes we started with. In fact, this is the mockup we used in our proposal to the Digg Board in advance of the acquisition:

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The final version is close to complete, and when you visit Digg.com later this week, you’ll find a beautiful, image-friendly, and ad-free experience. We don’t think of Digg.com as a traditional destination because the website is only one piece of the overall Digg experience and because we aren’t interested in capturing pageviews. So above all v1 will be about simplicity. We are doing away with “Newsrooms,” we are killing the “Newsbar” (aka “Diggbar”), and we are reverting “Newswire” back to its original name, Upcoming. Digg v1 pivots around three views: Top Stories, Popular and Upcoming.

At launch, v1 will not include a commenting system. When Digg was founded in 2004, it was one of the only places on the web to have a conversation with like-minded people. Today, conversations happen everywhere, and the problem that Digg started to solve in 2004 now has no shortage of solutions. We knew that if we were going to support commenting at launch, we had to do it right, and we knew that we couldn’t do it right in six weeks. In the coming weeks we will conduct a few experiments in commenting that will inform more permanent features. 

v1 Digg score
The early Digg was brilliant and honest and democratic. Each digg was a vote and each vote counted towards the ultimate objective: moving a story closer and closer to the top position on the Digg homepage. Every vote was a statement: “more people should see this story.”

Today, we vote on Facebook with every share and on Twitter with every tweet, and conversations take place across loads of different sites, apps, and networks. So how do we surface “what the Internet is talking about,” when the Internet is talking beyond the walls of Digg.com? We tear down the walls. When we launch v1, users will continue to be able to digg stories, but Digg scores will also take into account Facebook shares and tweets. Roll over any Digg score to see the breakdown. We’re excited to see how this new data can help us identify the best stories on the web.

Here’s an early wireframe of the new Digg score:

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v1 Moderators
How do we weigh the importance of all of these signals from around the web and manage the new design? That’s where our humans come in — Dave, Josh, and Ross. We learned, while building News.me at betaworks, that finding really great stories requires a mix of smart algorithms, smart networks and, not least, smart people to parse the two. Digg is what the Internet is talking about right now, so our team will be watching diggs, Facebook shares, tweets, and a handful of other data to determine where a story should sit on the homepage. Facebook shares and tweets are important signals and will be closely monitored, but we care first and foremost about what Digg users have to say — measured, as always, in diggs.  

v1 Mobile
Our experience at News.me and the results of the v1 survey speak loud and clear: getting mobile right is critical. Fifty-six percent of the v1 survey respondents reported reading the news on their phones multiples times per day. So this week alongside a new Digg.com we’re launching a brand new Digg for iPhone, built from scratch. We’re also launching a mobile-optimized version of Digg.com to work on any phone or tablet.

What’s next
Priority 1, 2 and 3 for the last six weeks has been to rebuild v1 — to lay a strong foundation for a new Digg, starting with a beautiful and simple experience on web, iPhone and email. After this week’s launch, we’ll be back with more details around our roadmap.

As we mentioned in our first blog post, we hope that you’ll see these features as our v1, and August 1 as the first of many iterations on a new Digg.

John, Jake, Mike, Justin and the new Digg team

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