Users just don’t like change – they’ll get used to it!

How often have we heard this from a company or a blogger after a social media platform has redesigned it’s interface, a website has refreshed it’s look, or an OS has created a new UI?

Or, this statement that I read over on Mashable regarding this week’s Twitter redesign announced on Today:

Social media users are notoriously adverse to change, with the slightest update often awakening the most critical of members… (Puhleeeze)

I always find it more than a little irritating when Product Managers, Designers, Developers, or Bloggers regurgitate this much overused statement when discussing negative user feedback.


It’s not that users don’t like change, it’s that change is often seen and experienced through the extra clicks, the reduced privacy, the cloning of bad UI decisions from other platforms, the additional investment of time, design and costs that new layouts bring, the feature changes that diminish a platform’s original “it” factor and identity, and other user experience busting decisions that are forced on users via late hour facelifts springing out of dingy marketeze clouded spreadsheets.

I have a little bit of background with User Experience, having come from the trenches of Customer Experience. Then, when I was a Product Manager, I still tried to keep my fingers on the pulse of users (those who paid with dollars, content, eyes or time and who were generous enough to pick my company’s product to use) with a hands on approach to understanding the root cause of their concerns.

So when I hear the too oft repeated statement that users just don’t like change in order to sweep negative user sentiment behind a spreadsheet column, I hear it coming from someone who doesn’t really understand what user experience is about.

So in case you’re in a position to answer the question, “Why are we seeing so much negative feedback?”, please take a couple of minutes to recall the following two examples before saying, “Users just don’t like change.”

Example 1: Eat24

Honestly, we’re kinda hurt that you’ve changed so much. We hardly recognize you with all the facelifts you had. Take a look back. You’ve changed your look more times than Madonna. Seriously. It’s not that we don’t like change, it’s just super annoying that you decide to increase banner dimensions by 5 pixels for no reason.
Eat24’s response to Facebook when deleting its Page

Example 2: Windows 8

Microsoft showed off the future of Windows this week at its 2014 Build developer conference, and it looks pretty retro. In fact, it looks a lot like Windows 7. It’s tantamount to an admission from Microsoft that the approach it took with Windows 8 was a mistake; that tiled, touch-first interfaces simply don’t work very well on traditional PCs like laptops.
Was Windows 8 a Mistake? Microsoft Seems to Think So, Mashable

When we become too immersed and vested in rolling out a product or update as quickly as possible in the chase of advertiser or investor whims, we can forget that our users may have legitimate reasons for their negative feedback. It pays to take time to delve into those concerns. Sometimes we’ll even find that those concerns come from folks who have been in our shoes before and are offering feedback from experience that will contribute to our product’s success.

These days, social media is one tool that gives us an opportunity to listen and respond to such feedback. Remember though to save the “You’ll get used to it” tweets or attitude for a roll-out that you don’t care much about. The “try it, you’ll like it approach” is not always the best product message. Get Mikey to like it, not mature users pained with real concerns.

Just puhleeeze stop saying, "Users just don’t like change – they’ll get used to it!" It only reflects poorly on your user experience understanding.

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