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Don’t go changing…three words that don’t apply online

Don’t go changing. The first three words of a famous song might provide sound advice in matters of the heart, but they make absolutely no sense at all when it comes to business.

And it is certainly true when it comes to doing business online. Standing still online is never an option.

Change is good. Change is what we should all embrace.

Yes, I know, that’s all well and good in theory but when it comes to practice we all have a certain amount of fear and loathing when it comes to change.

If we encounter something new when we ae expecting the familiar, our first impressions are not always positive. In fact, they can be downright hostile.

That is just as true online, witness the fall-out from any new developments and announcements from our favourite search engines or social networking sites. Twitter’s recent announcement on the “open exchange of information” drew heavy criticism, including one prominent blogger who claimed the company was committing social suicide. Equally, Facebook’s decision to enforce the new timeline on all users has led some to suggest Google+ will benefit the most as people go in search of an alternative.

We don't like change, even if only takes a few short minutes to familiarise ourselves with something different

That fear of change was also evident when I first clicked on the new-look BBC Sport website. I didn’t like what I saw – and that wasn’t just the news of more injuries to key Welsh rugby players ahead of the start of the Six Nations.

It looks very different in its new guise. Whereas I knew instantly where to click on the old website, I needed to take time to navigate the new opening page.

Yes, I needed to at least TWO whole minutes to familiarise myself with the new website and I resented that intrusion into my valuable time.

Such irritation is irrational, but it is something every business needs to be aware of when it considers changing anything to do with its public image.

Whether it is a new logo, new marketing strapline, new colour scheme for corporate brochures, or any number of other changes they care to make, the impact on customers, suppliers and everyone they do business with must not be underestimated.

And yet that should not be a barrier to making changes, especially online.

As our own online experiences evolve, so should our personal and business profiles. Portraying a business as static online makes no sense. Your online presence needs to evolve as the internet and the way we use it evolves.

You may hear a few dissenting voices if you revamp your website, but they’ll quickly disappear as people get used to the new look.

Despite my initial misgivings, I’m already a fan of the Beeb’s new-look Sports website.

I have already figured out my usual haunts and where I’ll find the news I want to read, although I’m still feeling a tad grumpy. The Welsh rugby team continues to face an injury crisis, but that isn’t the fault of the BBC and its new-look website.