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There is enthusiasm in my organization for non-retail webpages to have one interface when users visit the site for the first time, and a different interface for return visits. The interface would change based on the user's behavior on the prior visit, not too unlike what you see on Amazon or YouTube where suggestions are made based on a user's history.

Is this problematic? I think that this could create issues with findability where users expect content to be in one place but it isn't there on subsequent visits. Would love to hear some thoughts on this.

  • I think it would basically depend on how large those differences are. That could go from looking like two completely different sites (which would be confusing) to just some tiny changes, such as saying "Hello cmcgee!" or modifying the contents recommended (not a big issue). Plus every possibility inbetween. – Ángel Nov 21 at 0:41
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There is a level of tolerance for change frequency depending on the components.

With all of them, there will be a level of annoyance imposed on a user who is trying to find specific content they saw before.

For example:

  • Timely Content: Blog posts, videos, products, etc are expected to change since they are timely content. Make sure these are searchable if the user can't find them when returning.

  • Layout: Sections in the page, etc can change but not so often. How this is implemented can potentially confuse the user into believing they are in a completely different page. Some longer-term consistency is expected here.

  • Navigation and Global Components: When both scenarios above confuse the user, they will rely on these components to browse (or just use google). Changing these will confuse someone who has previously browsed through your website and already has a mental model of your navigation. Changing it is akin to breaking that model, forcing them to relearn how to use your website.

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