Tuesday, August 30, 2011

When Websites Change

I went on to Amazon today and discovered to my dismay that they'd changed their site design again. And I was planning on blogging about something else today, but that just had to be addressed: dealing with change and the web.

We've all been there. You get to know a site well. You know how to find what you want in the wink of an eye. Everything's all good. Sure, it might be a bit dated, but it's like an old pair of jeans: ragged in a few places, but familiar and comfortable as all get out.

Then they change it.

Suddenly, you don't know where anything is. You're lost in a sea of "Huh?" And the feeling you have more than any other is frustration. You've been betrayed by your old, friendly site. How could they do this to you?

This is something you see happen all the time with Facebook. As soon as they make one tweak, thousands of people are up in arms. "Bring back the old Facebook!" There are groups formed that promise that if they get enough people signed up in them, Facebook will have to go back to the old design. Of course it never works out like that.

And from a big picture perspective, it's easy to see why. All you have to do is look at old versions of your favorite sites (Amazon or eBay or Facebook or Google), and you see how dated they look. How silly and unmodern. But if we never let those small changes--and yes, even big site redesigns--take place, then that's what would happen. Our favorite pages would become stagnant, boring, and unusable.

So my message today is simple: change is good. Yes, it can be frustrating, and yes, occasionally some sites get it wrong and have to revert to the old, but in the end, it's a learning process, and the web gets stronger for it.

Now if I could just find what I was looking for on Amazon . . .

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