How Often Does Software Need Updating? Not Very!

Based on photo by Matthew Brodeur on Unsplash

Yesterday I signed on to my autoresponder, GetResponse (yes, that’s an affiliate link), to do a quick newsletter. The whole dashboard had changed! Everything was different except the color scheme.

Perhaps they’d sent an email telling me of the upcoming upgrade; if so I’d missed it. I took a couple of stabs at finding my old templates — one of the joys of their service is I can easily build templates for use again and again. With a sinking feeling I thought about using their knowledge base and searching to learn the new and maybe improved way of working with the program.

Fortunately, they have an almost always efficient chat help system. “Help! Where are my templates!” I typed.

The customer service rep had obviously been asked this lots and she quickly responded with a simple and direct way I could get back to the old system I know so well. Bless these folks for leaving the old way up, I hope forever. It’s a service I use often and irregularly. I’d much rather it stay the same.

I joined back in 1998 or 1999. Over time they’ve added all sorts of bells and whistles, including what look to be good marketing tools that go way beyond the usual for autoresponders. I’m grandfathered in at a super low rate and don’t have, nor do I want, access to all their tools.

From my point of view there was nothing that needed a major and confusing overhaul. In fact most of the time upgrades cause me way more trouble than they are worth. My hunch is I’m not alone.

Consider, if you’re a blogger, WordPress’s creation of their, in my opinion, unusable Gutenberg editor. The first thing I and well over a million people did was find the plugin that would return us to what’s become known as the Classic Editor, letting us write our blogs exactly as we had before. Enough to make me think this so-called upgrade was as disastrous as Coke’s attempt create and sell something called New Coke.

I’m not sure how these ‘new improved upgrades’ actually happen. At least some of it seems to be driven by the desire to be able to up the price of the software by refusing to be backward compatible.

I also suspect that over time the code that runs the program ages and becomes difficult to manage well. Programming languages change over time. Some almost disappear entirely, and I can imagine programmers begging for a switch that will allow less frustration in the back room. This is a reason I could accept with some grace if anyone bothered to tell me.

I also wonder if users are ever surveyed about wanting an upgrade or not, and exactly what sort of upgrade might be most useful and acceptable. I never have been.

I also doubt they talk much with the folks who know what drives customers crazy and that’s the people who support those customers on a daily basis. Those people have a firm grasp on what needs improving, if only their advice is sought and even followed.

I’m also sure that once in a great while I’ve appreciated an upgrade, but I can’t think of one at the moment.

What does this rant mean for you? Maybe nothing, or maybe the solace of knowing you’re not alone in your frustration with updates.

Wait until you hear me on the topic of passwords!

Write well and often,

Writer, life and writing coach, book ghostwriter, Grandmother, Buddhist. Liberal who listens to the other side, political activist-www.DemocracyCounts.org

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