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17 March 2010

Small Change. Big Impact.

The other day I was caught completely off guard. I was driving down Douglas - a road I was familiar with, but hadn't been on in a while.

I came to the stoplight, turned left and quickly realized I was entering the newly opened campus of Brown Mackie College. That's great! Except I wasn't planning on going there. I was supposed to turn left onto SR 23.

I then had to dodge busy college students, miss poorly parked cars and try to get back out onto Douglas.

Small Change. Big Impact.

You see when you're familiar with something your mind tends to go on auto pilot. I knew Douglas went for a couple blocks and then had a light at SR 23. The problem was - a new light had been added to Douglas since I had been there last.

Website Changes
So how do we impact our "auto pilot" visitors on our websites when we make small changes? Do we do a good job of explaining? Do we make sure the transition will be seamless? Or do we just make the change and assume they'll figure it out?

In my opinion, the best way to keep a small website change from causing a problem is to make sure it is designed well. In other words, make sure the new page, element or feature is designed in such a way that the visitor feels comfortable using it. As long as your navigation is clean and simple, it shouldn't be difficult for people to assimilate.

Making changes people don't understand, and trying to recreate the wheel when people know how to use the wheel, will simply get you nowhere.

Small change is good - just make sure the impact is going to be a positive thing.