Web development is an ongoing adventure for relatively small sites as well as massively popular social media platforms. That being the case, recent news about a forthcoming redesign for Twitter got us thinking about both the opportunities and the perils associated with web development that changes the look or feel of an established property.

Twitter, Facebook, and the other giants of the modern internet have undergone a number of changes over the years. Some have been subtle, some have been drastic. Some have improved with functionality of the website or app, and some have been met with outrage and consternation by established users. Sometimes, these are one and the same.

Beta testing of Twitter’s new, two-column layout and easier-to-use emoji will no doubt allow the platform to work out kinks in their web development. But eventually the changes will be rolled out to every single user, likely overnight. And even if they have been ironed out completely, some users will balk and the changes and insist, “It wasn’t broken, so why fix it?”

Of course, Twitter has no obligation to explain the rationale for its latest web development project, or for the app development that is expected to follow. And since there’s little risk of people dropping the site from their daily routine, the public’s resistance to change doesn’t represent much of a threat. However, smaller sites generally don’t enjoy the same luxury when they decide to overhaul their web development. For them, overnight changes might be a risky proposition.

As the landscape of the web continues to change, your web development company may approach you with good ideas about how to improve user interface or to bring your site’s aesthetic in line with that of your competitors. And if you trust your web development company, those ideas deserve a fair hearing. But if you decide to adopt them, you should remember that reworking the website is only one part of the equation. You may also want to prepare your most loyal visitors for what is forthcoming.

To its credit, Twitter may have had this in mind when it began previewing the latest changes for some users. It may be expected that some beta testers will tweet out their experiences so other users know what to expect. This, of course, is another luxury that is not shared by smaller sites with less interactive interfaces. Yet there are other ways to gradually introduce changes and to encourage word-of-mouth, such as premiering the new site while still allowing access to the old one, or utilizing your company’s social media platforms to solicit feedback.

This goes to show that web development rarely exists in a vacuum. There is an element of internet marketing and social media management that may accompany it if the site owner intends to maximize the positive and minimize the negative effects of altering visitors’ experience. In many cases, the effectiveness of each of these elements is improved if your web development company brings expertise in marketing and social media to the client-contractor relationship.