Social Question

Aethelflaed's avatar

Why do websites constantly redesign their site?

Asked by Aethelflaed (13752points) December 27th, 2011

Inspired by the new Gmail. Why do companies constantly redesign their sites? Facebook seems intent on doing this once every 6 months (and no one ever likes it), Twitter, now Gmail, Livejournal,… I understand making it better, but many times, they actually have a lot of graphic designers writing in and saying “um, why would you take a decent design, or a great and pioneering design, and ruin it?”. And since it costs money to redesign a website, it’s probably not “because… we can??”. So, is there a reason that websites feel the need to redo the design so frequently, even if it drives away users?

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9 Answers

Bellatrix's avatar

In response to some anonymous feedback? They do this with the website for the organisation I work for. Drives me doolally. Just get used to where everything is and… Bam.. new site and things have moved. I can never see what is so much better than the first. The justification is usually to make it easier for students to find things. As I am not a student, I can’t say if that works. Since they keep changing it I would have to guess they haven’t got it right yet.

Keeps web design people in work too I guess.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Basic rule of life… evolve or die.

they’re killing me with that

AnonymousWoman's avatar

I actually love the new Gmail. It’s fantastic. I was hesitant to switch over because I thought the layout looked ugly from the previews. However, when I switched over, I was amazed and fell in love with it. I get to stare at pretty nature pictures that switch quite a bit when I’m checking my e-mail and chatting on Google Chat with my best guy friend. How cool is that?!

I also love the new Facebook Timeline, even though I thought it was horribly cluttered before. I mean, did you see what they do on birthdays? They have a cute little cake and everything and a separate wall just for it. It’s adorable. That cover photo up top? Amazing! I get to stare at a picture of three of my most important friends and myself now every time I go on my profile and it reminds me how much I love them. Not that I need the reminder, but it makes me feel more happy while I am using the site. I also like seeing what my friends chose as their cover photos.

I sound like I am being paid to advertise for both sites, but I’m really not. Not at all. I love change. Staring at the same layout for a long time gets boring to me.

Why do websites change? Well, we can have our guesses. Maybe they want to compete. Maybe they got feedback from other users and decide from that what to do about their future designs. I mean, do you really want to go back in the day when Facebook statuses all had an “is” in them? Aren’t you glad that changed?

Maybe they want their users to waste their time on the site figuring things out… I mean, c’mon, as much as people say they will leave Facebook, how many of them really come back? How many of them hate the layout at first, but later end up loving it and end up complaining when it’s changed again? If the layouts are really so hated, why is it always the last one that is apparently the best?

Facebook… and Gmail…

Yeah, they know what they’re doing.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Problem with the new Gmail is that I can’t open each mail in separate windows. I could do that with the classic version, just right click and open in new window, having multiple threads showing simultaneously.

I don’t mind new… as long as no functionality is lost. I always notice a loss in functionality.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@AnonymousGirl Yeah, you do sound like you’re paid to advertise for them. And btw, you could look at nature pics in old Gmail as well.

Many people don’t quit Facebook, that’s true, but many do switch over to a different platform, like Tweetdeck.

I’m not saying newer is always worse, or that there aren’t things that can’t be improved upon. Rather, it’s that I don’t understand why there’s always a need to change things. One of the biggest reasons people got on Gmail (and Google) in the first place was its clear, uncluttered, simple design. It’s still relatively simple and uncluttered, but it’s a bit harder to tell where things are – icons aren’t actually more clear than text, there’s a bit too much white for me to be able to easily navigate, and it’s annoying that I can’t have all my mail folders and all my chat peeps listed, but rather have to pick one. That means I spend more time on Pidgen, and less on actual And yeah, Facebook removing “is” is nice, but if I could go back to before the “top stories”, I would (and the new scrapbooking layout… That’s not how I use Facebook, or how I want to use Facebook, so I’ll pretty much have to use Tweetdeck). So I just don’t understand why companies feel the need to fix something that isn’t broke, given that they get bad PR for it more often than not. Is it that with new technology requirements, they cannot recreate the old look with the new technology or something?

AnonymousWoman's avatar

I could, but I don’t remember them switching up like that at random intervals. It reminds me of the nature pictures on my accounts on my brother’s computers. They switch a lot and they’re pretty. I’m a sucker for them. I’m also a sucker for the sleek design Gmail now has, but I like “new”. I am the type of person who likes making the best out of everything I love. That includes websites. A new layout will never drive me away from a site I truly love, especially if my friends I want to talk to are there.

What is Tweetdeck?

I feel that Facebook’s major competitor was Google+ this year. When I first joined Google+ while it was still in Field Trial, I noticed Facebook making their features that were similar to Google+ more and more obvious. Facebook has always come across as a website that is on top of its game to me and it did not disappoint me here. It seemed like anything Google+ had, Facebook could do better… except Chat. I don’t use Facebook Chat much anyway, though, so I don’t care. Even when people said “Facebook will fail, just like MySpace did”, I did not see that happening. Not this time. There is a huge difference. People have shared too much on Facebook. People didn’t share too much on MySpace. Facebook can do whatever it wants (whether anyone agrees that they should be able to or not) because it has control. In the end, people are loyal to their friends… not websites, and so many people are on Facebook who actively use it.

Pidgin, eh? Are you a Linux user, by any chance? Or is Pidgen something else I’m thinking of? :/

I thought you could change back to “recent stories” now. I did. There’s an option at the top of the news feed that lets you sort by “recent stories” or “top stories”.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@AnonymousGirl Tweetdeck is a Twitter client that you can also use for Facebook and other social networking things. Pidgen is a universal IM client, that’s not specific to Linux. And, I can’t change back, because my browser randomly decides to have issues with Facebook; my point was, just because Facebook has made some improvements doesn’t mean all Facebook’s improvements are good.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

Ah, okay. Thanks for explaining that. As for Pidgin, I know it’s not specific to Linux, but I’ve used it myself. I usually use it only on Linux, though. I also liked using Meebo as well. :)

I understand how it can come across as a bad and even horrible change. People will have different opinions and this new timeline is definitely not something I think any of us here would have ever imagined Facebook would ever turn into before seeing it for ourselves. Profiles with the new timeline look more like blogs to me now than social networking profiles, so I can definitely understand what you are trying to say.

I, also, am less interested in reading posts on the main news feed because of how it’s changed. I view this as a good thing, though, as Facebook has been a huge addiction in my life and it can help me be less addicted. I like the “lists” feature because of this. I can make it easier for myself by checking out the news feed designated for my close friends and family members without wading through all those top stories.

I view these as copies of Google+, though… here’s why:

Google+ offers circles and separate news feeds. It also has its own version of top stories. Posts that were commented on the most the most recently (at least the last time I went there) seemed to be at the top, no matter how old the original post was. How annoying this was to me. Also, the size of the Google+ posts were huge… and now Facebook’s are as well. I will admit that I liked the smaller posts better and I was not all that cool with how big Google+ posts were. That being said, I can hardly blame them. There were people who were threatening to leave Facbeook for Google+ who seemed super serious, so it makes sense that they would take Google+ features and bring them to Facebook.

What effect could this have?

Why, the same reaction as some friends and me had…and possibly several others…

To me, I didn’t see the point in switching over to Google+. I mean, it wasn’t that much different than Facebook to me. I showed a close friend of mine the site while I was at her house because she was curious and she had the same reaction, only harsher. She said something like “No offence, but Google+ looks like a cheap knockoff of Facebook!”


Competition gone.

whitetigress's avatar

From a designers perspective. Because we can. Or other wise we’d be stuck in the past. :) Think of the internet as a society. Whatever is in, will most likely be used. I see a clean, basic feel approaching but with modern links available. Simple is in, especially since the internet is moving towards satisfying the tablet users. I believe it was Sir Isaac Newton who said it best, an object in motion stays in motion… and right now websites are indeed in motion. :)

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