Even great user-interface changes take time to be embraced

Michael P. Nov 16
1 Comment »

I just reorganized some icons on my computer. I’ve added some new applications to my normal workflow, and the previous organization wasn’t working out so great. The new programs were all related to a specific category of work, and I would normally use most of them at the same time.

So the changes I needed to make were clear: I added a new folder, moved all the applications related to that work category into it, and carried on with the new-and-improved organization.

Now 3 days after this change, I noticed something. I have just now gotten used to this new change. For the first 2 days, even though the new organization meant that each application was easier to get to and just a single click away, I would instinctively start to access them in their old location, 2-3 clicks away.

It was a very eye-opening revelation, to me.

Here was a case where clearly the old organization was bad, and the new organization was faster and greatly improved. The change of organization was *my idea*. I knew there was a problem, I came up with the very logical solution, and I was the only one who was going to benefit from it. I didn’t have to take into consideration other users, and it wasn’t someone else’s change that I had to try to understand and get used to.

As a developer of applications and interfaces, the important lesson is this: there are times that you need to make a change to some aspect of an application that will take time for users to get used to. Until they are used to it, they may not like it. They may HATE it and be very frustrated, because they don’t understand why it changed. Facebook deals with a huge number of these complaints every so often, when they make slight changes to their user interface.

If you make a change that people react to right away, even if you think it was a good change, just be patient and give it time - a few days at least. If your change was for the better, people will eventually see that, embrace it, and their habits will be changed.

One Response to “Even great user-interface changes take time to be embraced”

  1. Michael Garvey says:

    Good word Michael!

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