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Why are you changing your software?

It seems to me that there are 4 different types of changes to existing software:

  • Regulatory – changes needed due to law or rule alterations
  • External Improvements – changes designed to make things better for the end-user
  • Internal Improvements – changes designed to make things better for IT or the owner
  • New Coat of Paint Features – changes to make the site or application “look better” without any deeper goal

While I wish most software changes were focused on the first two types, it seems to me that we often see the last two changes. The other day, I found that my streaming platform has updated its software to show a screensaver with ads rather than my previously selected screensaver. Also I can’t remove that screensaver anymore. Clearly that “improvement” is internal – the business has decided to sacrifice my preference to limit or eliminate ads in favor of their desire to put more ads in front of their customers.

I see this with my own customers also. I often get requests to change the colors on their website, or move things around a bit. Some people believe they need to periodically change their site so end-users don’t get bored.

Unfortunately change just for the sake of change can have the opposite effect – it can be annoying for frustrating to end users. And changes for your own goals that make the experience worse for end users, like my streaming platform example, can leave your users wondering if they should find another platform.

It is worth spending some time considering your goals before making changes to your software.

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