When Upgrades Go Bad and How to Prevent User Prevention

New is not always better.

It may come as a surprise to hear that we think not all system upgrades are a good thing. What is an “upgrade” to one person spells “headache” to another. That doesn’t mean you should continue to work with outdated software or avoid updating your system all together, it just means that when you are looking to overhaul your applications, it’s important to keep your end user in mind.

For example, last week the developers at Snapchat rolled out a new version of their popular app that has users complaining about the changes in functionality. The overhaul is part of the company’s effort to separate personal and commercial use of the app, but it has so far met with user frustration and push back. In fact, over 600,000 users signed the “Remove the new Snapchat update” petition asking the company to return to the older version of the app.

“This petition aims to help convince Snap Inc to change the app back to the basics, before this new 2018 update,” the petition reads.  

“Many users have found that it has not made the app easier to use but has in fact made many features more difficult… There is a general level of annoyance among users and many have decided to use a VPN app to go back to the old Snapchat, as that’s how annoying this new update has become.”

While the motives behind Snapchat’s upgrade are good, and could prove profitable for the company, the initial effect of the change is user outrage as the dramatic revisions pushed users out of their comfort zones and are forcing them to re-learn how the app functions.

Snapchat’s target demographic, users in their teens and early 20’s, are usually pretty adaptable when it comes to learning new technology, but as this week’s outcry proves, most users still are not comfortable with a drastic change to the way things have always been done.

So how does that translate to your company and its software applications?

Keeping your users happy doesn’t mean you have to avoid changing your system or its interface. Changes are a necessary part of business – growth is change. But if you’re looking into developing a new software solution or redesigning an existing application, it’s important to keep your end users in mind. How does their work flow? What process steps have they come to expect? How can you incorporate new technology without alienating your employees or customers? Addressing these questions is vital before you even begin to develop a new or updated application. 

Clarify the Need:
What is the purpose behind your upgrades or redesign? Be sure you understand why you’re making a change and how this change will benefit your users.

Define the Process Flow:
If your users are accustomed to following a certain process when using your software, be sure to keep that in mind as you determine what to change in your system. Understand the hows and whys of the way users interact with your software. If you can get actual users involved in the “define” process, it will help you better understand how your software is being used and what your users’ needs really are. Then update your system to improve upon the process flow, not impede it.

Don’t Over-complicate the Process
When your users are used to having core features accessible with the touch of a single button, don’t bury those features under multiple layers of functionality in a new design. Don’t add unnecessary steps to the system for design sake, or to show off “cool” capabilities. Users are more interested in how your application works than they are in animations or trendy designs.

Don’t Make Changes for the Sake of Change:
If users are accustomed to pressing a red button with an arrow on it to advance to the next level, don’t suddenly change the button to a yellow button with a star simply to make the screen “different.” This will confuse and frustrate users, and there’s no point in frustrating your users unnecessarily. It’s totally acceptable to update color schemes, icons, etc., but do it in a way that is intuitive and improves the user experience.

When Possible, Introduce Changes Incrementally:
We understand that not every business can afford to roll out software in stages, but sometimes it’s a great, and cost effective, way to introduce changes to your employees or customers. It’s easier to accept change in smaller steps than to adjust to a completely different experience all at once.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate:
When you’re preparing to roll out a new system, don’t surprise your users with a sudden change. Communicate the purpose for the redesign, the plans behind it and any functionality changes that will affect the way users interact with the system. Explain to them the benefits of the change and how it will improve their overall usage. Then provide instructional tools and support for your users to make the transition as seamless as possible.

At Spud Software, we believe change is a good thing. Improving your processes and software applications can bring great benefits to your company, but it’s important to keep your users in mind before you ever begin development. That’s why we offer the “Define. Design, Develop, Deliver.” process – to provide you with solutions that are tailored to your company’s needs and expectations. So if you’re looking to upgrade your system without upsetting your users, give us a call! We’d love to help you define and develop an application that your users will be excited to use.