We are updating our UI and restructuring our boards. We want to let our members know that changes are coming without too much detail at this point. A little back ground. Our members in the past have been less than happy about change to our community but it's painfully out of date and in need of this overhaul.
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Yep. Communicate early and often. Allow them time to get used to the notion that change is coming so that it isn't as big of a shock to the system when the change actually comes.
Usually an announcement somewhere in the community where users can comment with their thoughts. It may not be pretty, but at least you're giving them a chance to vent up front.
As much communication as possible is highly recommended.
I would also recommended you involve your superusers in the decision making process. You will get a better understanding of their needs, might get some important tips in how best to improve your UI and board structure, and will show that you really value your community leaders opinions and feedback.
Change is always painful, but if you clearly articulate why changes need to be made then users will be much more understanding and accommodating.