Web Principles: Users hate change

If I was going to write book of web principles certainly one of my top ten principles would be Users Hate Change


If you’ve been on Facebook the day a change is made you’ve certainly seen it in your news feed.  Today, for example, Facebook changed up the contents of the primary feed, made the photos larger and added a widget to the right sidebar about what your friends are doing. If your friends feed is like mine, then it is full of all manner of whining about how people want facebook to switch back and hints on how to find the old interface. On the otherhand, I like it. It’s an improvement. I think it makes facebook more useful for me while removing steps I took in their old interface to see what I wanted to see.

If you’ve ever redesigned a web site, you’ve heard about how much people hate change. My favorite redesign story about how people hate change was when I worked at The Commercial Appeal a decade ago and we launched their new design in January 2000. The design eliminated frames from a Pagemill design and started to implement CSS– we designed the whole thing in Dreamweaver. It wasn’t a great design, but a huge step forward. Faithful readers of The Commercial Appeal’s web site reacted like we had dug up Elvis and moved him to a hidden grave.

One particular set of emails from a retired lady who had moved to Chattanooga stood out from the rest. The day after the redesign she reamed us for moving things around and messing up her daily return to Memphis via the Internet. Her email was pretty similar to the other 1000 or so emails we received about the redesign. What was unique about this lady from Chattanooga was the 2nd email we received from her two weeks later. She emailed to apologize for her first email and to let us know she actually liked the new design and now everything she wanted was easier to find.

So, the moral of the story is Users Hate Change, but eventually with a good well-tested design, they will come around and use the site.  I promise you all those people swearing at Facebook today will have forgotten about it in a weeks time.

For me, I like change– for better or worse. Innovation and improvement are hard. If you are unwilling to change you’ll never know if that next step is two steps forward or a step backward.

Jakob Nielsen has a great related post on how users are resistant to change: Fresh vs. Familiar: How Aggressively to Redesign

Visit my church’s new online campus

Fellowship Bible Church's Online Campus

We’re debuting our online campus at Fellowship Bible Church Sunday morning at 11 a.m. I’ve been working on the launch team on this since around September and will be one of the rotating hosts for the service.

Besides the video stream of the service there is also a chat feature to allow discussion of the message, a place to notes on the screen and the bible passage for the sermon.

If you’re not in church on Sunday mornings at 11 (central), you should stop in, check it out and say hi. I’ll be there.

AT&T Service fails, but Google answers

The visual voicemail on my iPhone quit working about a month ago (I won’t say what caused it), but I called AT&T today to see if they could help me get it working again after missing a couple of voicemails.

Surprisingly, I didn’t have to hold for an operator at all, but the operator I got had me on hold several times as she tried to figure out my phone’s problem. After trying several different network changes on the AT&T side and several changes on my phone over the course of an hour, the support tech finally gave up and suggested I needed to reinstall the Surprisingly, I didn’t have to hold for an operator at all, but the operator I got had me on hold several times as she tried to figure out my phone’s problem. After trying several different network changes on the AT&T side and several changes on my phone over the course of an hour, the support tech finally gave up and suggested I needed to reinstall the iPhone OS and offered to connect me with an Apple support tech to help me out. I declined the Apple help and told her I could handle the reinstall myself. Before I hung up on her I she made an appointment to call me back the next morning to see if my voicemail was working correctly.

After I got off the phone, I turned to my trusty support database, google, and queried, “visual voicemail broken iphone” and on the second page, two minutes into my search, I found my solution– reset the network settings under Settings > General > Reset Network Settings. My phone restarted and I immediately got two visual voicemails– Problem fixed!

I thought I already knew this lesson, but I guess I learned it again– Google your problem before calling for support and more than likely you’ll find the answer your need. Now, I get to to explain to the AT&T tech how easy it was to solve the problem.

Twitter Faves

I’ve been busy at work, with kids and teaching so I haven’t had much time to post, but I have kept up with the online and online journalism world. My new favorite way of staying up to date is all of the great tweeps I am following on twitter. You can see my five most recent favorites in the column on the far right or you can browse through all of my favorites on twitter’s site.  I don’t guarantee the quality of my twitter favorites. Many times I have just favored them on Tweetie to make sure I go back and check out the linked material when I’m on larger monitor.

My must haves on a new computer

I keep switching computers around at work and at home– just jumping from one computer to another to try something different out- and I have come up with a list of tools that I always install first thing when I take a new windows computer to use.  I’ve done this so much lately, that I’ve put all of these tools on my usb drive that I keep on my key ring (isn’t that a geeky thing to have?).

  • Firefox – an extensible browser that renders appropriately
  • Filezilla – easy to use ftp client
  • Notepad ++ – small text file editor
  • VLC – media player that will play almost any video or audio file

When I take on a new Mac or Linux machine I still use Firefox and Filezilla, but have a different text editor.

I also have a set of extensions that I always install in Firefox the first time I use it.

  • Xmarks (was foxmarks) – a bookmarks synchronizer (I don’t use the password sync feature)
  • Firebug – a quick html/css inspector
  • Screengrab! – take a quick screenshot and save it or paste it.
  • Measureit – answers how long or deep is that image?

I have a lot of others that I eventually end up installing when I need them, but these are normally the first four.

So what tools do you always use?