The Digg Effect: 2 Ways to Avoid a Replatforming Fail

By Sarah Etter

August 1, 2012

Yesterday, Digg relaunched its social news sharing website, naming the latest iteration of the site Digg Version 1. On the heels of the relaunch, Venture Beat called the Digg v1 design “cleaner and quicker than the previous version.”

Digg was one of the original social websites, and seemed poised to join the ranks of Facebook and Twitter. But in August 2010, Digg released what’s been called a “disastrous redesign” of the website.

And it had a dramatic impact on traffic, as Digg-lovers who felt their feedback on the new design (really, a complete overhaul) hadn’t been listened to or incorporated into the new site boycotted. Now, with the launch of v1, Digg hopes to win them back.

But it might be too little too late. Digg’s story has been one of the biggest examples of how much a replatforming project can cost a company. According to BBC news, when Digg was at the top of its success, Google wanted to buy the company for $200 million. Six months ago, after the plummet in traffic, it sold for $500,000.

Based on a new report from Forrester, “Getting The Most From Your Replatforming Project,” Digg isn’t the only website struggling with replatforming woes. In fact, Forrester found a whopping 95% of ecommerce companies reported a drop in key performance indicators (such as conversions and average order value) after a website replatforming project.

But there’s good news: Ecommerce companies can learn from where Digg went wrong. Two key lessons:

Don’t try to do it all at once. Forrester’s report points out that “Nearly all replatforming projects bundled a site redesign and a new metrics solution with a new ecommerce platform.” And that’s not all. Most companies reported their replatforming project included new site features, new metrics solutions, and new order management solutions, as well as tablet and mobile optimization. Sound like a lot? That’s because it is. Best bet: Keep it realistic. The fewer variables you add to your replatforming project, the more likely it’ll succeed. Even better? To avoid bundling too much into a project, take Brian Walker's advice and treat replatforming as an ongoing program instead of a once-and-done project.

Listen to your visitors. One of the biggest nails in Digg’s coffin during the 2010 relaunch was the outrage of the website’s visitors. They were a dedicated fanbase, and many were asked to beta-test the 2010 version of the site before it went live. But their opinions weren’t incorporated into the final version of the 2010 website, which alienated visitors. Best bet: Testing a newly replatformed or redesigned website is a best practice we talk about all the time. But the process can’t stop at testing. The feedback of visitors has to be heard and acted upon.

If you’d like to find out more about the pitfalls that derailed Digg—and how to avoid those mistakes—check out the infographic below, “Don’t Digg Your Own Grave,” and Forrester’s report, “Getting the Most From Your Replatforming Project.”

replatforming infographic

 

 

Sarah Etter is the former the senior editor at Monetate. Before joining Monetate, she was a writer for various online and print publications, and served as the associate editor of The Internet & Marketing Report newsletter. Sarah also loves fiction writing and ice hockey... yes, ice hockey.

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