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This one comes with a bit of backstory, so I apologize for the complexity of the post.

I'm a web admin for a forum that has an associated IRC Channel. The forum has been around for two years, but we received a large influx of users at the beginning of this year. When we did, we noticed that many of them didn't seem to be using the chat room. Because of this, we added a "Chat Room" button to the nav bar, appearing at the top of every page, that links to the chat room using the web-based IRC client Mibbit.

Chat Room Button

For well over a year, we didn't have this chat room button, and almost all older users began using the chat room before it was implemented (though some now prefer the button). However, it has successfully brought many newer users to the chat room.

One of our IRC ops has made the case that Mibbit is a bad client, and the button should instead link to another web-based client, preferably Kiwi IRC. It would be very easy to simply change the URL to which the button links, but we are concerned about users who click the button and either expect or desire it to link to Mibbit, even though that is considered an inferior client.

So, what should we do with the Chat Room button? Here are a few potential options:

  • Don't change it at all: maybe the surprise caused by changing it isn't worth the benefit of a better IRC client

  • Have it link to Kiwi: maybe the surprise caused by changing it and disruption in workflow is worth the improved IRC Client

  • A Dropdown with Mibbit Default: The Chat Room button could instead be a dropdown (like the Forum button) that, when you click it on its own links to Mibbit, but has a dropdown option for Kiwi.

  • A Dropdown with Kiwi Default: Like the previous option, but when clicked links to Kiwi, with a dropdown for Mibbit.

  • Something else: there may be another solution we haven't considered.

The concern with the dropdown options is that it creates options bloat to preserve legacy behaviours in a feature that is intended to be presented to new users, but the concern with just changing the link is that it could be disruptive for existing users who may not want to change clients, and primarily use the button to access Mibbit.

Which of these is the best option?

  • welcome to UX.SE. I sympathize with your predicament. It'd be helpful if you could say something about what your objectives are here. Are you trying to avoid bad clients, filter out bad users, or do something else? – tohster Jun 13 '15 at 8:46
  • @tohster Trying to find the best way to allow users to access IRC via Kiwi IRC. – Avi Jun 13 '15 at 8:50
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Because you're on a forum you are in a unique situation - people will actually read an announcement you write.

About a week before you make the transition, you should make an announcement. Describe the advantages of each, why you're doing it, etc. I would also put a link to this in the MOTD of the IRC chanel.

Then, add an option on the UserCP page (for example) that lets people chose the client they use. Set it to use Kiwi by default.

About a week after you added the option, make everyone with Kiwi selected use the Kiwi client.

  • I like this solution because it leverages other tools we have, like forum announcements, and because adding the option to the user control panel lets us preserve options while keeping them hidden from new users. – Avi Jun 14 '15 at 5:19

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