What have we learnt from the latest Facebook update?

Last week Facebook updated it's user interface. I was really surprised by the response which I thought was quite negative by many. To me the changes which Facebook implemented were positive and would provide a great user experience. I had my own thoughts to why people were upset however I did some research and asked a few questions to see what the issues were.

In the main it was the "shock" and "surprise" of the updates. As one person put it to me, "considering Facebook is user focussed, better dialogue with it's userbase would have limited the amount of bad press". This was echoed by all people I questioned, without warning their environment, which they had grown used to, had changed.

The second reason for their upset was the amount of changes being made, with pop ups coming up telling them of new features. One person mentioned "you get used to one thing and it changes again the next" and another mentioned that there were "too many changes for infrequent users".

What can we take from this?

Although we are not immune to change, we do hate it. The main reason being is that we don't know what the changes will be and how it will affect us. With X-Factor we were fearful for loosing Simon and Cheryl, that Kelly, Tulisa and Gary wouldn't be the same. It in fact turns out that everything is ok and we still like X-Factor very much.

We can help overcome any barriers to change by communicating clearly. Communication is key: get everyone prepared. Keeping your customers informed at all times is critically important. If there are any delays or any changes we need to communicate this before hand, clearly explain why changes are needed and illustrate the new features, advantages and benefits.

People find constant, drip fed changes frustrating. It may be good advice to slowly introduce new changes to get people slowly used to new incentives however in effect you are pro-longing any negativity. You might as well make the changes in one big hit and get the moaning over with.

So in effect, Facebook did the right thing in releasing their updates all at once however it would have been a good idea to have run a campaign leading up to change over day informing users of exciting new changes and perhaps a glimpse of what was coming up.

Music download website Beatport did this brilliantly when their website (which hadn't changed since it was first launched and became the biggest dance music download website globally) changed from Flash based to HTML 5. Their communication campaign lasted several months, plus BETA previews before going live.

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