Monday, March 16, 2009

Resistance to Change is Avoidable


I just finished revamping my Church’s website replacing the mostly static pages with a content management system to provide additional features and make it easier to maintain and keep the content fresh. Initially I just used one of the included design templates while I was populating the content. The few people that had early access to the site before it went live were complimentary about the design for its clean professional look. As a result, I decided to use the template for the finished site.

The plot thickens…

After the site went live, I added a Poll to see how the members liked the new site. After spending four weekends and several weeknights on the website, I was dismayed to see someone voted “I do not like it at all”.

I announced the sad news to my wife and she commented “I wonder who wouldn’t like it”? Understanding everyone has reasons for their opinions and often people have the same viewpoint, I responded that my teenage daughter was pretty vocal during the development that she did not like it. She was sitting in the living room hearing the entire conversation (with a grin on her face). My wife asked her in jest, “Did you do that?”. To our surprise, she DID. We all had a big laugh about it. She will forever be cursed by having my sense of humor.

The back story

Since 1999, when my daughter was young, she helped me on the church’s website. Whether it was suggesting a graphic or illustration, or a suggestion about the colors I was using, she often provided input that ultimately influenced the design of the website. This time since I used a pre-made template, I didn’t ask for her input. She thought the template was plain and boring (mostly shades of grey with only a little color sprinkled in) so she didn’t like it. With her influence the two previous designs had more color and character, but didn’t necessarily project the image of a church as large as ours, in a medium (web) that is currently dominated by professional graphic design.

The take-away

Any time one is introducing change:

  1. involve the people that will be affected by the change in the design and they will have a sense of ownership that will protect making change for the wrong reasons in the future.
  2. understanding the reasons for resistance to change will give you valuable insight into why the change might not work as-is without further consideration or development of countermeasures.