Interfering in the way users are used to doing things is a no-no

Constantin Druc • April 8, 2019

Gainslog is a simple calorie tracker I made with only a handful of users.

If you ever tracked your macros before, you know reaching your daily protein intake goal is the most difficult to attain from all three macronutrients (proteins, carbs, and fats). Once you hit your proteins target, the other ones come around easy.

Because protein is the hardest macro to fill, I made it look like a priority throughout the app – making sure that everywhere macros appear they are ordered based on how hard is to get them in one’s diet. So it’s “proteins, carbs, and fats”. Leaving aside the fact that for some people (with high calorie needs), carbs are harder to get, a new user pointed out that on a regular food label, the macros order is different – it’s fats, carbs, proteins – and that I should correct the site to reflect that.

Gainslog food form

It makes sense, at least for the form used to add new food items. When you’re copying stuff from one place to another, it’s easier if the order in which you enter the information is the same. Being a good maintainer and carrying about people’s wishes, I’ve corrected the order everywhere through the site.

As soon as the update hit production, all hell broke loose – all users instantly went “why you changed that?” on me.

What is funny is that they didn’t notice the labels changing everywhere, but only on the daily status area. They, like me, were used to focus on the first number (since protein intake was the hardest to achieve).

Gainslog food form

Long story short, I reverted the order for the daily status and kept the others reflecting the food labels – which made it super easier to enter new items, but of course, few people actually noticed it.

Books told me that “taking a feature away will irritate users”, but I never thought such a small change will be taxed this hard. Nevertheless, I interfered in the way people were used to doing things, and that pissed them off. Lesson learned.

The fact they didn’t notice the order changing in other places concerns me – it means there’s something I can clean up more. If the information is not worth noticing, why keep it?

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