Orienting users to what has changed

Helping users get used to a new look is always tricky business. Orientation that helps the user know where to find things should eliminate some frustration.

Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying, “Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”   Perhaps part of the equation is missing if you don’t include how long they have to keep it a secret or how suspicious the person is that they have to keep it a secret from.

For the past week, our team has been keeping a secret.  At demo, a gift in Christmas wrapping was presented to our marketing staff.  Inside was a user story to update the portal user interface.  Our goal was to fill them (and our customers) with glee.

Changing the way an application looks is a tricky thing.  It is inevitable that some people will love it and some people will hate it.  The portal was overdue for a new look — it’s basic user interface hasn’t been updated in five years and the web has changed a lot since then!  Careful consideration was given to what problems users are having through evaluation of previous help desk tickets and how best to help the user acclimate to the new user interface.  We also wanted to avoid unnecessary navigation or labeling changes that would disorient and frustrate our users. We also wanted to update it to something that was a pleasure to look at all day.

We think we’ve struck a good balance.  We’d love to show it to you, before the release if you have the time.  Join one of our User Group Feature Demonstrations to get a sneak peek.

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