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Why Website Redesigns Make You So Angry

It’s a bit jarring when you navigate to a bookmark you use everyday and something totally unfamiliar pops up. That happened just this week at Flavorwire, but it’s happened to almost every site I visit at least once over the last few years. When a popular website updates to a new interface, or even just a new front page design, the immediate and loudest reaction is …complaints. The regular users ask, “What did you do to my website? It’s awful!” Then over time, readers realize that many of the changes made the site more usable and reader-friendly. Flavorwire is less compact now, but easier to read because everything’s bigger. But it was still jarring, just because it's unfamiliar. Anger over the unfamiliar exploded over the new redesign of Seamless, a site where you can order food to be delivered. What regular users don’t like about the new design is immediately apparent, while the really useful improvements take time to explore. And then there’s the 9X effect.

The 9X effect, which seems to have first been described in the early 2000s in a Harvard Business Review essay by John Gourville, works like this: A product’s users overestimate how beautiful and useful the original product was by a factor of three. On the other side, the makers of the product overestimate how beautiful and useful their new product is by three, too.

In the end, the redesign ends up being the focus of intense nostalgia and optimism on both sides—a fiery mix that only time and use seem to really dampen. In some cases, it consumes the new product completely.      

It doesn't help that there are always unforeseen bugs in a new system that take time to work out. Gizmodo explains more about the inevitable anger over website changes in a way that should make any publisher feel a little better about facing that anger when the time comes. -via Digg

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