There have been a lot of website redesigns this year, and more are on the way. With each one, there have been major complaints. Not just the usual “Eh, the old one was better,” but actual resistances. It’s fairly common knowledge among designers and operators of websites that a good portion of a given site’s users will complain about a redesign. It’s considered to be a major accomplishment to get through a design overhaul with very few complaints. People resist change, whether it’s for the better or not. But people lately have been going beyond the usual minor whining.
A now-classic example is Facebook. They spent a good deal of time and money working on a new design which, in my opinion, is cleaner and overall much improved. What did the users do? They totally freaked out. Facebook groups sprung up with names like “WE DON’T LIKE THE NEW FACEBOOK DESIGN!,” “Formal Facebook Petition to Keep the Old Facebook Design Around,” “Bring Back the Old Facebook Design!,” etc. People even threated to quit using Facebook if they didn’t put the old design back. (As if Facebook cares whether a few people leave here and there. They have millions of users and can always find more.)
They didn’t just complain about the new design either. They complained that they didn’t have a choice in the matter, that they couldn’t keep using the old design even with the new one out.
The same thing happened with CNET when they redesigned this year. Last.fm? They had a similar problem, though not in so bad of a way. Google, even, has had people upset with the slight changes they made to iGoogle recently.
Now Yahoo is going through the same thing. They have a redesign in the works, and they’re testing it by pushing it on select users instead of the current design. The users aren’t happy about it. They have some legitimate criticism, which is the kind of comments that are helpful during a redesign, though there are a few who, like with Facebook, don’t want any changes and/or want to be able to choose whether or not they “upgrade” to the new version.
I have a real problem with that. You don’t get to choose whether or not you move to a new design. It takes a lot of extra time, effort, and money for a company to support more than one version of their site, especially without any real reason. As I’ve been saying to people too often lately: “You can’t opt-in to redesigns. Websites change, and they do so for a reason: to improve. If you don’t like change, that’s your problem. Deal with it.”
Why have people gotten it into their heads that they’re entitled to use a service (a free service) and expect it to not change at all? I’m no stranger to people’s aversion to change, but come on people, do you realize what you’re complaining about? You’re complaining about progress, things that generally improve the service and make it easier for you to use. And you’re expecting a company to provide a service exactly the way you want it, without charge, forever. Am I the only one who has a problem with that?