Digital relaunches have the potential to be disruptive to the daily lives of your customers. Humans are programmed to change information. When it disrupts habits and takes extra effort, we can react negatively to it.

People are more likely to notice changes in systems that are familiar or that they use frequently. And change is considered more disruptive when they are in a more relaxed frame of mind when they are trying to achieve a time-sensitive goal.

This happens even when customers fall in love with your product or brand. Regardless of whether you are Apple, Google or Facebook, you are not free from this reaction to a change in a well-known product or service.

Take some initial feedback on the iPhone X interface as an example (or any of the previous iPhone launches that included any changes to the hardware or interface for that matter). People have been vocal about their adversities, indicating change. Apple users are not familiar with gestures and they include some work on their part to use them. Over time, they will become accustomed to these changes, but for now, they are a great thing for users.

If you are moving a well-known platform, product, or service, you need to know how to minimize negative feedback for change. Below we offer seven rules of thumb to help plan, design and manage your digital relaunch project, which will reduce its risk.

Design with user input and verification

Involving users throughout the product and interface design process will help ensure that you are creating something that solves a real user problem.Conduct research at the beginning of the design to understand what problems people are having with the current version of your product and what they really want, and need a better product.

Once you start designing the interface, do frequent usability testing to ensure the solution you want, that solves problems you’ve identified, and that the new designs are easy and intuitive to use.

Run a beta stage before full launch

A beta phase allows you to release the product to a small group of customers and evaluate their reactions before it is released to the wider public.This step allows you to identify any major design, interaction, or performance issues when the product is ‘in the wild’ (in a controlled environment) and fixes them before affecting the entire user base.

Make sure you have procedures in place to collect customer feedback and performance data during the beta phase. Having this data allows you to get the most out of the beta and means that you can easily build user feedback into your design.

Communicate to users that changes are coming

Tell customers about the change before it happens, give them time to use the idea and meet their expectations. This would make the change less disruptive, allowing them to plan around it when needed.This will help reduce the likelihood of customers missing an important communication and the guard will be caught once you relive.

In your communication, explain the rationale for the change and its benefits for the user. If you educate people about how change provides value then it can help reduce any negative reactions.

If possible, test the messages that you intend to use as part of your pre-live research and beta releases, so that you can be sure they have the right impact. This can provide you with information on how to improve messaging before full launch.

Prepare yourself (and your boss) for some negative reactions

You are likely to get some negative feedback from customers, even if you have designed something great because you have disrupted their routine and put in some (temporary) extra effort.If this is the first time your team is relaunching a product, this reaction may surprise you or your boss. Before relaunching, remind yourself and your key internal stakeholders that initial negative reactions are common and should be expected.

Define good measures of success

Customers will call or write to let you know that they don’t like change. But they rarely take the time to tell you that they love your new design, or say thank you effortlessly. Often, feedback and social comments look highly negative, when in reality customer sentiment is more balanced.