Dramatic overhaul vs. gradual changes

Ben Parr’s analysis of the latest Digg launch was spot on, and his column was full of great analysis and good suggestions of where Digg should go next. One part of his post stood out, and I think it’s right on the money:

2. Digg chose dramatic overhaul over gradual changes. If we’ve learned anything from Facebook’s many redesign and privacy fiascoes, it’s that major overhauls of large websites don’t go over well. The company tried to launch way too many things all at once, and the result was a buggy platform that frightened users.

This is so true. I think after the initial launch, if you have a large number of users the ‘big launch’ should be avoided as much as possible. The main reason being users can’t digest it all at once. If you release separate features continually over time, users can adapt to each of them give feedback on each, and you can debug and alter them as you see fit. What do we want? Gradual change. When do we want it? In due course.

Author: Caterina Fake

Literature, Art, Poetry, Homeschooling Mother. Founder & CEO, Findery. Co-founder, Flickr & Hunch.

5 thoughts on “Dramatic overhaul vs. gradual changes”

  1. This is an argument I often find myself on both sides of, except it regards an entirely different arena: school reform.


  2. While I understand why gradual change makes sense from a business standpoint, I don’t necessarily agree that it’s what users want. In fact, I don’t think users know what they want until you go out and give it to them. Even then it may take time for them to understand why they want it. Facebook is a bad example because all of the features that were initially received with animosity were later embraced by the entire community of 500 million. They had the audacity to say “this is what social should be” and the courage to carry it out in spite of user backlash.

    The best companies can intuitively sense what people want, or will want, and give it to them. I don’t want to be spoon fed little morsels of change and asked for my feedback every step of the way. I want to see something awesome and be like, yeah, that kicks ass.


  3. Ha!
    Seems like it was a lot of pressure on Digg to do something dramatic. They had such momentum coming out of the gates that continually declined over time.

    It seems funny to me that the tech community was the community that took hold of Digg first and ended-up being the group that came back with the most consistency.
    Answer me this: Why does it seem that every technological innovation or new product on the web must first be sent through this gauntlet that is the ‘Tech Community’?
    Are they the only group that can be ‘Early Adapters’? Just because it involves innovation or technology, doesn’t mean they’ll find value in the offering. Obviously, I recognize the tech community was not the only community involved but, what happened to the idea of Digg being integrated into platforms like WebMD where relevant consumer-backed medical articles and responses are uploaded or integrated into Zagat Apps, where relevant consumer-backed articles on food with responses are kept?
    Call me the naive 25 year old kid in the room but, Digg always seemed more about credibility with people that aggregation.


  4. I need to speak with you. Your new site – Hunch – Absolutely amazing. I’m not a capitalist, I’m just a potential entrepreneur with an amazing idea and I’ve already contacted google, waiting to hear back from Mark Zuckerberg, and I left a message on Jimmy Wales’ personal blog (Founder of wikipedia).

    I just really really really would like to speak with you. Reply via that email if you would, and thanks.


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