Digg.com Townhall / Web Analytics

I frequent digg.com fairly often, but just happened to notice that they were going to have a live broadcast via uStream.tv to address users issues and questions. This is something that I have never seen before from any (albeit a startup) company. Before the townhall meeting, they collected comments and questions from users on this Digg story and went through the top 20 questions.

This townhall meeting could be viewed as very successful in my eyes, because it achieved two things:

  1. Allowed users to submit issues to the creators of Digg.com about usability and features that are/aren’t working for them – and have them addressed.
  2. Allowed the creators of Digg to collect opinions about the site and have them essentially ranked in order of importance by the avid user base.

Now, as a web analyst, one thing pops into my mind about the value of this type of forum. The goal of being a web analyst is not just to to learn what the user is doing, but to understand why the users are at your site and how they are using it. It is rare that you will have a very clear cut survey telling you exactly what users are concerned about. Currently I am working with my main web developer at my new job to create event tags on main functions of one of our sites to find out if they are actually using certain features or not. This requires man-hours, testing, implementation, and this method is not scalable for a massive site (we’re only measuring clicks on the home page) – and that’s just to measure a behavior, not to add a new feature/functionality/content! In the townhall format, they ended up with a much more dynamic and democratic version of a user survey from real users. (extra reading: Kaushik.net – the importance of surveys) They also appear to be more open to the public (in addition to diggnation) which builds trust from the user base that they are actually doing it for “us”.

Anyways, that’s enough nerdy web analytics talk for one post. I also wanted to point out that while having Digg.com CEO Jay Adelson answer some of the questions was good, he comes off as a huge dork, and definitely needs more time on camera before stepping up to another live Town Hall broadcast. Kevin Rose should not let him talk as much as possible. Don’t believe me? Watch the archived live broadcast for yourself on Mashable or Digg.com/Townhall. Jay’s the one on the left.

In web analytics news, I will be attending the Web Managers Roundtable tomorrow in DC…see you there!

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