Most of Us Hate It, Change That Is


Recently, Facebook anounced some changes to groups and other elements of their site. Twitter recently introduced a radical new version of their interface; Digg did the same. Most of of us hate the change. Why?

We hate change because our brains make us

It’s because we have brains! There is a part of our brain (name escapes me, help) that is responsible for remembering how to do every day tasks that at one time we had to think about and learn how to do. We take for granted now, that we had to work hard to learn these tasks. Tasks like riding a bike, speaking, typing, dribbling a basketball, playing an instrument, driving a car and other similar activities.

The thinker part of the brain (I know, I know that’s not a very scientific name) is very protective of its bandwidth, so devoting resources to learning a new task, interface or system is aggressively resisted. Understanding this brain economy is important to help us manage our world of constant change.

Review changes objectively

So if we can force ourselves to step back and objectively review a change, most of the time the change will be for the better. The new Twitter, for example, is vastly superior, in my opinion, to the previous interface, though I had to figure a few things out. The changes Digg made really put off a large portion of their user base. For me, I think the new Digg is better, but I’m a relatively new Digg’er.

So be objective and ask, “how will this new tool or this change make my life easier” — if you can’t objectively answer, then give yourself a few weeks for your brain to adjust. The more ingrained the task, the more difficult it will be to change.


Mike Ebert

This is at least one reason why design by committee can result in poor design–members of the committee are often motivated to make sure things don’t change too much (for them!).

Typo: Most of us hate change because OUR brains make us

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