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I'm about to release a polished version of a multiple-window gui-application I wrote years ago. I improved usability a lot (it was BAD!), with which i mean stuff like:

  • fixing tiny errors in alignment
  • making all dialogs accessible by keyboard
  • proper "modality" of dialogs
  • open them at "logical" positions instead of random ones

My question is whether I should tell my users, that a lot of these tiny problems have been resolved or will they notice by themselves?

Differently put and with an example: There were dialogs that couldn't be closed by pressing ESC. Did they learn by now to not try to press ESC in a certain Dialog and use the mouse, or are stumbling blocks like this never "internalized" anyway?

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No - I don't think I would tell them. What is there to gain by telling them ? If they really are improvements then they will shine through (: –  Lisa Tweedie Jul 15 '12 at 2:21
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Human nature dictates that not everybody will find them improvements... Aside from that, no, don't list minor issues separately, lump them together as "a lot of other minor issues were addressed". Only exception: minor issues reported by an actual user of the software. –  Marjan Venema Jul 15 '12 at 15:41
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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Whenever I release a new update, I give my users a choice to switch to the new version. Give a link on the existing one and asking them if they want to try it, gives user a lot of confidence and a sense of control. Giving user a sense of control is one of the primary element I try to introduce in all my designs.

Once they select, thank them and tell them what has improved. What I practice is to show them a small slide show which navigates and tell a story about the changes implemented. Another approach which really worked for me was introducing these slides when the user lands to that page for the first time.

So for example, when you have a dialogue box which now can be removed by pressing ESC key, I will open a small lightbox type dialog the moment this dialog appears for the first time for this user. This way, we will be able to educate them and also show the changes we have introduced in a progressive manner rather than overburdening them with all of the changes at once.

Yes but if the changes are based on alignments and colors, I will let them understand it by them self and not tell them that "I made a mistake and now I am fixing it". Better let them enjoy the new design and just educate them with the new features.

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Personally I really hate when a program updates and I can't get information about the update. You could insert a link to all improvements somewhere in about this program or something like that.

It sound like a huge improvement, so you could make a small message appear, when the user opens the program for the first time since the update. Here you could tell about the biggest improvements and a link to all improvements.

As a user I like to know what is changed in my programs. If a program doesn't show information I google it.

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I'll give them information about the update, mainly about new workflows and adjusted workflows. My question was whether i should tell them about the minor changes as well. –  Fabian Zeindl Jul 15 '12 at 11:26
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After update you should tell about big changes and small improvements or fixes in a general phrasing e.g. "- Some small usability improvements". Offer a link (see comment @EmilF) to the website to show all changes in a version history. –  sysscore Jul 16 '12 at 12:02
    
I agree for two reasons; significant changes to the UI should be made clear to users (they may have grown accustomed to the previous UI, and/or previously uninstalled the app for UI/usability reasons), and some changes listed here (especially keyboard accessibility) could make a profound impact for certain customers. I concur with @sysscore that you should document the changes in two stages, e.g. "User interface and accessibility improvements" which links to/expands to show full release notes (here's a good example). –  Kit Grose Jul 17 '12 at 8:38
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