- Renaming a couple of its basic features (Contacts became followers and Faves became Likes)
- Rearranging several links (Profile, Clipper, Organizer and Collections) on the profile page
Some of the changes made sense (e.g. the quick links for the clipper, items and creating sets and collections), others less so (e.g. adding a profile link with the same functionality as the username link). Users complained like they usually do. In fact:
It’s a law of nature that users hate change, and they’ll complain every time you move anything around or otherwise reduce their ability to just do what they’ve always done.
Change is necessary though to stay alive. And as much as users don’t like it, they also don’t like a website/application/service that stays the same for ever. Scaling a service for instance will most certainly require making changes. The tricky part in designing a change is finding the balance between introducing or altering features that will increase usability and make it easier for new users to learn how to use the service while at the same time keeping the core functionality intact so as to not piss off existing users (the novice vs experience users conflict). That is always a fine exercise, especially if you already have a loyal community.
One repetitive complaint for instance regarding the new layout at Polyvore was the use of the term “Followers” instead of “Contacts”. Although not a standard term, Followers is used in several social networks (Twitter, Slideshare, Formspring, Tumblr) to denote an explicit directed liaison between two individuals. Conversely, the term contact has a more loose meaning about the nature of the relationship, can be symmetrical or not and denotes a relationship, connection or communication. By renaming contacts to followers Polyvore probably wanted to make it easier for new users (already familiar with other social networks) to start creating connections within the Polyvore community – and hence use the website. According to existing users though the term “seemed less friendly and less personal than contacts”. It also felt like an attempt to copy other popular social networks, diluting the sense of uniqueness that the community prides of – which in turn builds loyalty.
Polyvore responded to the uproar less than one day later with a revert to the term “contacts” and a post with more detailed explanations about the rest of the changes. Good call. It will be interesting to see how the website evolves as the service scales.