Yesterday I watched a usability study where the user was a little frustrated about seemingly gratuitous changes we have made in the product. They were using a pre-release version of VS 2005 and quickly asked these questions:

  1. Why is there a MenuStrip in the toolbox but no Menu control?
  2. Why is the Grid turned off on the Windows Form designer?
  3. Why has the C# keyboard bindings changed?

Now I'll take complete responsibility for the 3rd change and I'll talk about in my next blog (both Don Box and Chris Sells are looking for me about the those changes!).

The interesting thing was that when we had to chance to explain why we made the changes, the user was happy with the explanations. So here is the challenge - what's the most effective way to explain the reason for the change so our users will actually see it? I know I don't read the README files for the bulk of the software I install and I always quickly dismiss the “Tip of the Day“ type dialogs that some software uses.

Anyone had a good experience with some software that gave them this context? Any suggestions for what to do here?