Thursday, April 12, 2012

Why Complain About Changes to a User Interface?

RE: today's unannounced revision of the GooglePlus design.

I can't speak for others, but for me, it's definitely NOT about my being "resistant to change" or seeking to remain cozy in a "comfort zone".

You often hear status quo butt kissers claim that criticisms of a new design are simply people "whining" because they "fear change".

But for me, my critiques are about usability, readability, user expectations, and dumb ass programmers tinkering with things that work fine, just so they can hang onto their job and not get laid off.

Many geeks are complaining, with justification, about the ways in which the new GooglePlus user interface (UI) is worse, not better. It's not all bad, mind you, just mostly bad.

Twitter and Facebook also have implemented a lot of "upgrades" that are actually downgrades, changes made just for the sake of change, and not in reaction to user requests.

User requests are often ignored.

Designers tend to change a UI simply because they themselves are tired of it and want to try tweaking something, moving things around, and then see how users respond, if they even care what the user reaction is.

Or, as I stated already, they are the ones in fear. They fear losing their job. So they arbitrarily slide things around, label things with new titles, turn black text into gray text ("more subtle", ie, unreadable), hide important tools in drop down menus, make unpopular tools more prominent...all in the name of "an evolving vision of what the site owners want the site to be".

But users often disregard what the owners want, and use a site in ways the designers could not have predicted. It's a major mistake to enact change for the sake of a "fresh look" that is based on designer boredom rather than on user needs.

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