“Love The New Site,” Said No One Ever

A couple weeks ago, I switched up the look and feel of my ParisLemon blog. Over the next several days, I got hundreds of messages along the lines of “What did you do?!” “You fucking idiot!” “Change it back immediately!” “My eyes are bleeding demon tears.” Etc.

It turns out that I wasn’t just screwing with everyone, I did have a plan. You see, I started to notice that I was losing Tumblr followers. Quite a large number, actually. Not quickly, but slowly, over time. And because I don’t monetize that site and generally hate the pageview game (which I played for many years), “followers” is a metric that I actually keep an eye on. I want the people following me on Tumblr to be happy that they’re following me. And if they’re unfollowing me, they’re clearly not happy.

So I switched things up. I began using Tumblr in a way that I felt was more natural to the network — quick sharing, lots of re-blogging, lots of images, etc. That’s what the new theme was all about — it seemed best suited for that type of usage. Meanwhile, I knew I was going to move more of my straightforward writing over here, on Svbtle.

Guess what happened? My Tumblr follower count shot right back up. (Incidentally, so did overall readership and pageviews.) In other words, despite all the bitching the from vocal minority, my move seemed to please a broader majority. The numbers don’t lie.

I was thinking about this yesterday after reading this post by Bryce Roberts: Everybody Hates Every Redesign Ever. It’s so true. I think back to all the years covering Facebook. Just listening to the chatter on the web, everyone sure seemed to hate every little change they made. But the reality was that the majority of those changes better served a broader user base. Many of those changes kept Facebook growing towards the billion-user juggernaut it has become.

Roberts was specifically talking about Bitly — where he’s an investor and board member. They recently underwent some major changes to the product and everyone seems to hate them. Maybe Bitly made some mistakes with the redesign/relaunch or maybe they didn’t. Obviously, they have the data to know for sure. But again, it’s not like they did it just to mess with people. They clearly had a goal in mind with the change. And you have to applaud them going for it, rather than being complacent.

Aversion to change is human nature. Most people take comfort in familiarity. But stagnation is the ultimate killer. It’s excruciatingly slow, but insanely lethal. Living to die another day isn’t really living.

Without change, the web, like the world, would be a very boring place.


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