There’s a new Digg design and everyone wants to give their opinion about it. Some users like it, some hate it, but for me, I am more interested in what we can learn from the their new user interface.
Order of Global & Local Pages
There are two major design flaws I spotted in their navigation. The first one is with the order of their tabs. They chose to put “My News” before “Top News”, which is completely backwards. “Top News” is a global page that all users have access to whether they log in or not. It is also the default start page, which is why it should go first. “My News” is a local page that is accessible only if you are a registered user and logged in. Thus, it’s not relevant to users until they log in, which is why it should come after “Top News”. Putting the “My News” tab first makes users feel like they aren’t on the home page when they first enter. Instead, it feels like they entered the URL wrong, especially when the URL address defaults to “digg.com/news” instead of “digg.com”.
A best practice to follow is to put global menu items before local menu items in navigations. Global items are used more often than local items, since local items are only relevant to a limited number of users at a given time. By putting global menu items first, you’ll follow an order that feels more natural to users.
Separating Non-Related Buttons
The second design flaw with Digg’s navigation are the scope buttons that filter stories. When I initially looked at it, I didn’t realize “Top in 24 hours”, “7 Days” and “30 Days” were all related, and that they filtered the stories by popularity. Since they all dealt with time and were grouped with the same visual weight it led me to believe that they filtered stories by the time they get published. However, “Most Recent” is the only one that solely filters stories by time and not popularity. What would make this more clear is if the “Top in 24 hours”, “7 Days” and “30 Days” buttons were grouped together with a line that separated “Most Recent”.
Another best practice to follow is to group together items that function similarly and to separate items that function differently. This makes it clear to users how closely related items are when they are next to each other, so that they don’t misinterpret them.
Digg is still fixing bugs and making changes to their site. Who knows if they will fix these issues. Regardless of what happens to their site, these are valuable lessons on navigation design that we all can learn.