Redesign outrage | April 4, 2011
It’s surprisingly common for redesigns to cause outrage amongst their users. People complain that they weren’t consulted, criticise the quality and appropriateness of the new solution, and state that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” However if you leave the site for a while, you often see the most critical detractors become the most vocal supporters. Why is this?
I think there are three fundamental cognitive biases at play here.
First off we have the concept of status-quo bias, the idea that people tend not to change existing behaviour unless the incentive to change is compelling. So you could argue that many people chose not to switch from DVD to Blu-ray because the benefits of higher definition viewing just weren’t attractive enough. In the context of a redesign, many people may not understand why it was even necessary as the existing site allowed them to do everything they needed and wanted to do.
Next up we have loss aversion, the idea that people prefer to avoid losses rather than acquire gains.So in the context of a redesign, people’s sense of loss may be overshadowing the benefits they have gained.
Lastly we have something called the endowment effect. This bias says that people often place a higher value on something they own than something they don’t. This may have something to do with the memories associated with that item. So in the context of a redesign, users will probably have bonded with the old site, while the new site has yet to create an emotional attachment.
Of course all of these cognitive biases are intertwined so it’s very difficult to tell which ones are having an effect and to what level. I’m also sure there are other factors at play here so I’d be interested to see if anybody has done any original research in this area.
This post was inspired by a recent interview in the Indipendant.
Posted at April 4, 2011 10:06 AM