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We're about to launch a new interface of an order form (which is arguably better, based on research and user testing). At this time we don't want to hurt feelings, or shock returning visitors who are used to making orders on our current system.

Are there best practices on how to launch and transition users to a new interface with minimum discomfort?

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Just don't do what Microsoft did with Windows 8 (lol). –  delete this account Jan 21 at 7:38

3 Answers 3

Jared Spool as a great article on this:
http://www.uie.com/articles/embraceable_change/

He suggests that change should be gradual, instead of a drastic change. This way you will have less discomfort for users.

This is exactly what eBay has learned to do. Having had bad experiences with sudden, drastic changes that fermented virtual user revolt (even as simple as a background color change), they now take change in a more considered way.

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One common way for popular sites to do this is to invite visitors (to the existing site) to try out the 'new and better' site. That way you put users in control - and if they don't feel comfortable with the new, they have the option to go back to the original - but you have to make it clear they can do this!

Twitter for example did this - 'Try new twitter' - when they moved to a proper two column content.

If you have the opportunity to do this, it's a useful risk-managed way to gradually engage visitors in a controllable manner, and you can be flexible about the overlap period in case of problems on the new site or unexpectedly slow take-up. It's also relatively easy to A/B test different ways of inviting users to try out the new site.

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What do you think about launching email campaign to inform about "Try new interface" link. Would it be 1 or more emails and what would be safe interval between them? Thanks ) –  Кирилл Горбань Sep 11 '11 at 15:30
    
Good comment. Google has taken this approach too with their apps Gmail, documents etc. –  DigiKev Jan 22 '12 at 17:21

I liked how Gmail approached their recent interface change:

  1. Show a message acknowledging the change
  2. Give the user the option to temporarily go back to the old interface
  3. Include a link to a page that describes the benefits of the new interface and some tips on getting acclimated
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