Skip to main content

Sexy design won’t save your crappy product (sorry)

I recently worked on a project for a very large client. They had spent more than a year and millions of euro developing a mobile app before we were called in, but when me and my colleagues at AJ&Smart took a look at it, the app was a complete mess. It was a daunting mishmash of current trends and design patterns, and despite designing apps for a living, I genuinely didn’t know how to use it. Neither did the dozens of test users they had brought in.

There were animations everywhere. The different screens were suspended in a sort of 3D environment, and, naturally, everything was customisable. I have to admit: the app looked glorious. But, like a beautiful house built on a swamp, it didn’t have a solid foundation (and unusable due to the swamp creatures surrounding it).

His colleagues agreed. These apps were, in fact, cool.

4 weeks passed, during which we ripped apart, restructured, and redesigned the app. It was now apparent to us what had happened, and why the app was doomed to ultimately return to its original state. Nevertheless, I presented the new version to top man and explained as best I could all the tradeoffs that had to be made and the features that had to be killed for the app to make sense.

His reaction? The app was now boring. (more…)