Recently two sites that I use each and every day have "upgraded" the web user interfaces. For sites that people rely on multiple times per day, these are not trivial changes. Are the upgrades better for me? I don't know—time will tell. It takes a while to get used to these things.
TypePad, the application that I use to create this blog, put the member log-in one click away from the homepage. This requires an added click for most users. Then once the user ID and password is entered, a new page pops up called "TypePad News" with TypePad marketing messages. This propaganda appears before the links to the blogs that I write. Hmm… TypePad has added several extra clicks to the routine that I do several times a day. Extra clicks are usually not a good thing. But I'll wait to make a final decision…
Technorati, my blog search engine of choice, has a much slicker site that appeared this week. The interface looks better than before, but because it is different, I'm not sure if I like it yet. One thing that I absolutely hate about the new Technorati is that people's blog IDs appear instead of their full names. Ugh. My ID is freshspot (that's how I log into my blog application and how I log into Technorati). But my name is David Meerman Scott. Before this Technorati "upgrade" my blog posts appeared in Technorati as being "by David Meerman Scott" but now my posts are by some mysterious character named "freshspot". Seth Godin's posts are not by Seth Godin but by some entity called redmaxwell. Steve Rubel appears as aonewordmonikerinalllowercase – steverubel. Gosh I hate this. Technorati Product Marketing people: please fix this or comment here on why this is a good thing.
When people rely on web sites they become one with the user interface. Changing it is extremely powerful. Yes, change may make things better. But arbitrary changes that some product development geek thinks are cool can really mess things up for users. Test your ideas and only implement one change at a time. In my opinion, Amazon is the master of this. The site changes all the time but I never seem to know what and when things have changed. It just gets better all the time.