Perhaps this post is easily rebutted by the “we had to kill the village to save it” theory, but the new Netscape is shedding visitors like a snake sheds its fur. Alexa rankings are terribly inaccurate, except when showing general trends or when comparing two sites. And the trend for Netscape, even as it offers to pay its top bookmarkers, are terrible:
Reaching a Summer peak at close to 200, the site now languishes down near 450, despite all the new attention and new users. The continuing downward trend on Netscape may indeed be because of the loss of existing users, but one would expect to see positive growth after the initial decline, and indeed potentially rapid growth as the community features really kick in. However, we are not seeing this and it’s safe to say at this point if Netscape does not offer something exciting, different, or cool, it is destined to be a middling social news site without the reach, impact, or power of what it might have been.
The fundamental problem, it seems to us, is the lack of inspired features married with a clunky design. Enveloping the user like the black hand, Netscape aims for a total experience, rather then giving users freedom and earning their respect over time. The terribly fontography and overbearing editors (sorry, anchors) only exacerbate the problem– the site feels stillborn, a mashup of old and new that serves neither audience well enough.
The ideal Netscape site would be one that is more Digg-y then Digg, for those who want it, but also more old Netscape then the old Netscape. The site should get to know your habits, and present news in a clean, fresh, simple way so that you don’t need to worry about customizing or spending time doing anything other then reading interesting things. It should look incredibly simple, but have loads of personalization power running under the hood. It should above all not try so damn hard, especially with regard to branding, personalities, and faux-community.