Design and UX February 16, 2020

How to convince my partner that our app design and UX suck

Andrew G @agoldis

I have been partnering with my ex-collegue to create a simple business tool (expense tracker). So far we've been working successfully on implementing the basic features, releasing the app and getting some traffic.

My partner is in charge of design and UX, and I don't like it. Neither app icon nor the look and feel of the app. I also think that negatevly affects out rare users first impression.

He thinks that our visuals look professional and great. I disagree.

I am looking for some type of objective measure for app's UI evaluation. Since we don't have a lot of traffic, how can we get honest feedback about the app's quality in terms of UX and UI?

  1. 6

    Who is your target audience? Get some of those folks to do a live walkthrough of the app. Give them a "task" to do inside the app and ask them to speak all their thoughts. For these types of things, I'd try to avoid asking questions until they're done with the "task" because both you and your partner are biased, though in opposite directions.

    Quick Example Prompt: We've built a tool to allow business users to submit expenses. We'd like you to go through the process of submitting an expense using this receipt. We won't ask any questions until the very end, but we have two requests. First, please explain all your thoughts and decisions as they come. Second, please feel free to ask us any questions you have, but we ask that you give each step a try before asking us for help. Any questions before we get started?

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      Totally makes sense 👍 thank for the detailed example

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    The first thing I'd say here is that because you think it sucks, does not mean it sucks. What's going on here is 2 opinions from 2 different people, which is absolutely fine.

    First of all, do you have a better / alternative design? If you don't then you really don't have a leg to stand on.

    If you do then run a "sentiment analysis", or a "5 second test" on something like This is a cheap and very quick way to objectively come to a resolution.

    If what you're looking for is really an objective measure then that's the route you need to take.

    1. 2

      Thanks! Yeah, that's very healthy way of rephrasing the issue

  3. 3

    Ive seen this before, where our ego can cloud ones judgment unfortunately.

    Personally, I’d bring some users into the office and perform a usability test to create a sense of empathy. I watched this talk which I thoroughly enjoyed:

    1. 1

      Thanks for advice! We don't have any office (yet) but some people mentioned virtual usability tests that sounds like a good idea

  4. 3

    It's really hard to get an objective measure for the aesthetic quality of your app or logo design. It's also not super helpful to simply tell someone that something sucks. Even if they believe you (which they probably won't if it's their work you're commenting on), you won't be any closer to fixing the problem.

    So imo your best bet is just to hire some professional designers off 99Designs or Dribbble to do some mockups. You can get this done for a few hundred bucks each. If any of the designs look good, take them to your partner and suggest using them as the basis of a redesign.

    Also, make sure this is something worth spending your time on. I understand being somewhat of a perfectionist and a design snob yourself, because I'm the same way. However, not all apps need to be beautiful in order to succeed, so you don't want to spend tons of time, effort, and energy on something that's not crucial if there are more important things to do.

    EDIT: I assume you're talking about aesthetic appeal, not usability. If that's true, doing usability testing with users is not going to help you. Instead you'll need to actually survey users about their thoughts behind the aesthetic appeal. For example, "How professional does this app and its logo look to you? Would you trust this app to do X? How well-designed does it look?" Etc. You can get answers from 1-10. Then ask the same questions about a few other apps you respect. Then compare ratings from your app to ratings of other apps. And make sure you're asking your target customers, not people from outside your market.

    1. 1

      Thanks for your response! While it is about aesthetic, what I am mostly concerned about is the perceived quality of the product that affects conversions and retention.
      I am ok with "good enough" UX that works, but I do care about "not good enough".

  5. 2

    Do collect some feedback from other people(either from your existing customers or from friends) and make your partner aware about the surveys.

    Once you have data collected, if it proves what you are thinking about the design is right, take that data to your partner. Once someone see data, i’m pretty sure they do accept without any ego as there is no other choice being a real fact.

    But make sure you don’t hurt him anywhere during the process and always accompany your statements by data only to make it easier.

    Do share how you handled this later, good luck :)

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  6. 2

    Get it reviewed by the user or take opinion of a senior designers outside.

    Also try some kind of A/B testing. Show both the versions of the app and see which one works out well

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      Thanks for your suggestions! Given the current traffic volume it would take us months to get good ab test results, but convincing my partner to talk to a 3rd party is a good idea!

  7. 2

    I had the same issue. I thought our app design was great and nothing needed to change, but when we hired a couple of UX testers to test our software and record their interactions - I realised how bad it was, and how confused new users were when they could not find anything.

    It cost us about $60 per session (I can't remember the service name), and we only did 3 or 4 sessions with different testers, but it was enough to point our to me exactly what we needed to change or improve.

    Getting third party, independent feedback was a big wake up call. Suggest to your partner that you invest some money in doing that and I am sure he will get a big a shock as I did.

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  8. 2

    Since you've released, what has the feedback shown you? What do you users think? If the UI/UX suck, you will hear about it from people...they will not hesitate to crucify your product. Unfortunately, another way they can let you know this is by just not jumping into your ecosystem.

    It sounds to me like you should do some usability testing. Also, don't be afraid to proffer some visuals on here. There are UI/UX pros and designers that will provide an honest evaluation for you.

    1. 1

      Thanks for the comment! So far noone left any feedback about UI/UX, so it feels more like they are just stop using the app.
      Not sure thought if it's because of other issues- i.e. not UX related

  9. 2

    Oooh that's tough. Make include the question of the design quality on a survey you send out?

    Split testing sounds even better, but it sounds like you don't have the traffic for that.

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      That's true, we are still too early to get reasonable data from split testing

  10. 1

    Maybe post it over on Reddit's /r/design_critiques? If you get enough responses with some of the same criticisms then you'll have some unbiased feedback to share with your partner.

  11. 1

    The mistake you made was not to do A/B testing before you launched the app. Because of that you have little traffic because the vital information you would have got from A/B testing is missing. Try to reach a compromise and ask your partner to trial a new UI design for a period of 3 months and make sure you have some input. If your traffic doesn't improve you go back to the old design but if it does you stick with the new design.

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    It all comes down to personal preferences. Do you care about success more or being right about design taste more? are there any design decisions that can't be reverted?