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Google, Facebook Know You Hate Their Redesigns

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In my experience everyone -- yes, literally everyone -- hates a Facebook (FB) redesign. In some small, dark corners of my online universe, people still protest the new timeline feature.

Of course most people get over their site changes pretty quickly. Still, the task of minimizing controversy is one that Facebook and other major web companies take very seriously.

According to a recent article in the Globe and Mail, one Google (GOOG) designer learned the hard way that any change to a site’s interface can draw user backlash. Back in 2009, Jon Wiley -- the head designer of the Google homepage -- decided to make the search bar bigger.

This did not go unnoticed.

As soon as tech blogs discovered the change, waves of negative feedback began pouring in to Google. Since then, Wiley has learned to expect the worst whenever he decides to alter the site layout.

But no one faces more criticism over minute changes than Facebook. The social networking giant has seen large-scale protests -- usually carried out on the site itself -- against a number of past alterations. Timeline saw several different user groups calling for its removal. Back in 2006, Facebook’s rollout of the News Feed -- a feature that most users today can’t imagine the site without -- saw 750,000 protesters out of less than 10 million total users.

On their end, most major web companies try to test out new features and redesigns before permanently installing them. For example, the latest Gmail redesign went through a number of rounds of user testing before being released to the general public. It was still unpopular, but perhaps less so than it would have been.

Then again, many companies admit to focusing more on statistics and data than user opinions. After all, people can get used to almost anything.

It’s not just web companies that are concerned with aesthetics. Apple (AAPL), a company deeply concerned with design, will ship the new iPhone with thirty percent more viewing area than previous models.

And, as far as redesigns go, LinkedIn (LNKD) users should probably “redesign” their passwords after last week’s security breach. You never know what hackers will do with your information (actually, we have some idea).
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