Reddit versus Digg: a little detail that matters
Since reddit.com and digg.com started showing up on the geek radar, I've been checking them out. Since both are about the same thing, roughly a 'just the links' version of Slashdot's 'news for nerds' approach, I expected to like them about equally, or like digg.com more, since it has link summaries (which are often the most useful bit of Slashdot for me).
To my surprise, I've been barely visiting digg.com, but have found myself dropping by reddit.com frequently; it just felt nicer to use. It's taken me some time to realize why, and it turns out to have come down to one little difference in their website design.
The little extra work of thinking about whether I'd already read an interesting looking digg.com link turned out to be enough of a turnoff that I quietly tuned out. On reddit.com, my browser does the remembering, and my eyes automatically skip over the darker links. No fuss, no muss, continued reading.
Digg also pushes me away with a small font size for the link summary text, the thing I am most interested in reading, forcing me to enlarge it in Firefox in order to read it comfortably. (I've written about this before, and it's even Jakob Nielsen's leading design mistake of 2005.)
Update: and shame on me for not noticing that not differentiating visited and unvisited links is part of Jakob Nielsen's number two design mistake of 2005. And he discusses it in more detail in an older Alertbox here.