A chronic challenge and often frustration among designers and innovators is the difficulty in gaining acceptance of changes to existing systems by current users, even when improvements appear to be substantial. A recent online discussion surrounded the hypothesis that “users will only upgrade to a better interface if they have at least 50% better productivity with the new interface?” https://www.quora.com/User-Interface-Design/Upgrade-an-interface-When-will-users-change
The key to successful change is 50% about as much as the meaning of life is 42. Neither designer ego nor marketing’s need to be fashionable is sufficient to justify the cost of change from a user point of view. And yes, this is a designer speaking. Even an apples to apples time comparison in a lab fails to reflect the real life costs of change in the equation.
Applying user empathy almost always deflates assumptions and egos. User perception has many facets and counts for far more than time scores or numbers of clicks (good heavens). Disruption of mental models is huge. Does your time study account for that? What is the cost of changing one’s mind?
On the other hand, keeping things the same for sameness sake is also a terrible strategy. Not only will it very well undermine the benefits of improvements, it can mislead and misrepresent as it tries to hide change, only to surprise the user with it at some inopportune moment.
All change costs something. But if the user perceives an appreciable improvement from their point of view, they will forgive you for causing them pain. And, if the user sees the stuff they care about in the design, presented in a better way than ever before, they will love you.
The best example I can think of this is the reality show, “Extreme Home Makeover”. Anyone who has seen the show, knows how they take a deserving family’s run-down home and rebuild/replace it with a new one custom built just for them. The kicker is that when the family sees the new home for the first time, they immediately recognize it as “home”. Why? Because it contains all their favorite stuff, arranged and presented in a beautiful setting and functional framework.
Do the same with software design and you can stop whining about inflexible users. Every study I’ve ever done where I asked users what they want/need/expect to see in the UX, the answer is always the same. It is invariably “My stuff”. Of course exactly what the stuff is depends on who the users are and what their reason for using the system is.
When users discover that their mental models which are intrinsic to the tasks, data, and domain are better represented in the new design than in the former and that the noise of the system-induced clutter that used to cause them grief, confusion, and extra work has been reduced or eliminated altogether, they won’t mind that the colors, fonts, and even layout has changed. In fact, they may not even see it. The more “invisible” the new design is, the more invisible the pain of change. The concept of “invisible design” is not a new idea, but still as valid and as elusive as ever.
That’s how to win at change management design. Just make the change invisible. That’s all. How? Remember, Its all about the user’s stuff. Its not really even about change. That’s a fallacy. The new design either makes the user’s stuff more visible or less visible. More, they love you; Less, they hate you.
“All my stuff’s here anyway” – It is the reason for going or staying.
That’s the secret. Shhhh. Dont tell anyone.