[Reposted from Medium, where it looks bestest.]
At the start of a new year, it’s tech company tradition/neurosis to do a swan dive into the previous year’s data in search of sunken treasures — patterns or insights that escaped notice in the daily rush of site metrics and KPI reports. I’ve been doing that over the past week, and thought it might be interesting to lift Digg’s hood and show some of our internal numbers from 2014. TL;DR: Digg had a terrific year, accelerating as the months progressed.
By way of background, we’re pursuing an unconventional strategy at Digg. Armed with a data infrastructure and some smart algorithms, Digg has editors — actual human beings — curate the most interesting stories and videos on the Internet and deliver them, as an act of judgment and with some degree of wit, to our users via our homepage, our iOS and Android apps, the Daily Digg email, and a range of social channels. We think of our users as those who speak Internet — people who spend a fair amount of time online, who are curious, and who love news and great writing, as well as eye-catching videos. In short, those who want to learn and explore, and who enjoy both the highs and lows of Internet culture. For these people, the Internet is both wonderful and often utterly overwhelming — an endless scroll of stories, videos, blog posts (e.g., the one you’re reading), tweets, status updates, infographics, shared photos, gifs, alerts, and so on. Digg’s mission is to make sense of it all, to distill that vast daily river down to its most interesting and noteworthy gems. Tackling that problem from multiple angles, we also build awesome automated tools like Digg Reader and Digg Deeper that help our users navigate, manage, and make sense of their Internet.
It’s an amazing era for readers and watchers of creative work on the Internet. There are so many fantastic sites and apps generating great writing and compelling videos. But amid the resulting clamor for audience and attention, we’ve seen plenty of less edifying behavior — clickbaiting, churnalism, cut-and-paste repackaging of others’ work. Those sites tend to crash and burn.
We’re building Digg for the long term. We believe in quality. We’re making a bet that the future lies in driving attention by being smart and useful, not conjuring or regurgitating linkbait. Our goal is to send users out to what’s interesting, without cynicism, trickery, or favoritism. So we’ve been asking quantitative questions about the user experience at scale: How many people use Digg, our homepage, the apps, email, Digg Reader, Digg Deeper, social, etc.? How long do they spend on Digg, which parts, and how often? What do they read, what do they click, what do they ignore? When are they active, and where? Why are they at Digg, and what can we do to make it a more useful and enjoyable experience?
On to the 2014 numbers.