Complaint Against the Beautiful Designs of Apps

Some designers may prioritise their own sense of pride or accomplishment over creating a product that is both aesthetically pleasing and functionally useful. This type of approach, however, does not yield the most substantial or rewarding results. Designing for both utility and pleasure allows for a product that is both visually appealing and practical, providing a much more meaningful and enjoyable experience for users.

Protect yourself against the kind of egotism that seeks for and thrives on praise.

I often find myself browsing sites with design-inspiration, however my user-experience based skepticism leads me to leave these sites with a sense of disbelief. This article is intended as a rant, but should not be taken as a serious allegation. I am merely attempting to make a point.

Yes, I understand that some of these design showcase sites may not be essential for the creation of practical products, however, I still believe they should reflect a structured approach to design, particularly by taking into consideration the key questions “Who is this intended for?” “How will people use my product?” and “Is it genuinely functional?”.

Designs that lack proper consideration for usability, user experience best practices, and fundamental principles of interaction design are doomed to fail in the real world. Thankfully, these types of designs usually remain limited to the often far-fetched, comically exaggerated atmosphere of Dribbble and Behance.

Unfortunately, these concept ideas, which focus solely on the visual representation of a particular software, often contribute to a misconception that designers are merely artists who are concerned only with the aesthetics of the product, such as its colours and fonts. However, in today’s software development landscape, it is essential that designers take a much more comprehensive approach to app design in order to create successful products.

I’m referring to user experience.

If individuals in the actual world attempted to utilise these applications, I can confidently assert that more than half of them would experience difficulty, eventually abandoning the endeavour in confusion.

In order to maximise their performance, digital product designers that are truly invested in their work understand that it is essential to check their ego at the door and abstain from superfluous showboating, self-promotional displays, and attempts to captivate the audience for the wrong reasons. This kind of misguided behaviour does not lead to success and is considered a #UXFail!

Giving up Practicality for the Sake of Praise

In order for digital product design to thrive in the market, it is essential to create great user experiences. Aesthetics play an important role in this, as attractive and pleasant designs are an important component. However, it is important to remember that aesthetics should be the final step in the design process, as a product that looks great but does not function well will not be successful. Therefore, designers should prioritise functionality and usability ahead of visual perfection for best results.

“Great designers make delightful experiences,” the “guru of practical technology,” once stated.

Pleasurable experiences are those that are effortless and provide an enjoyable and uninterrupted experience. Such experiences have the ability to anticipate and meet people’s needs in the most convenient way possible, giving the impression of appearing almost magically. To make a pleasurable experience, it is important to provide the right things, in the appropriate timing, and in a manner that is appropriate.

It is clear that in order to achieve the desired outcome, one must disregard accepted standards and protocols for design and focus only on the outward appearance. It is evidently apparent that Dribbble is faltering due to two main reasons: a lack of understanding of the target audience, and an adherence to current trends.

At your peril, disregard conventions

Design conventions are based on an extensive study of human behaviour, mechanics, physics and the sciences. They adhere to best practices and human expectations which have been shaped by centuries of adhering to these norms. This is a result of a process of trial and error which has proven to be effective over time, similar to the process of evolution. This is applicable to both digital product design and industrial design, such as vehicles and bicycles.

Neglecting or disregarding design standards is irresponsible and overconfident. These fundamentals are essential and act as a foundation for upcoming progress. It is all about what users anticipate. If you do not adhere to them, you are in danger of creating frustration. Just envision the chaos if every bicycle, door handle, or pedals and wheel of every car worked in a different way just for the sake of being ‘innovative’.

Just two words: complete chaos.

A user interface is similar to a joke. It doesn’t work if you have to explain it.

Keep Your Heuristics in Check

Well-crafted applications that strive to be useful products must adhere to established design conventions, fundamental usability standards, and interaction design principles, and should pass heuristic evaluations with ease. Heuristics refer to general recommendations rather than specific usability criteria.

In order to be successful in the practical application of design, it is essential to abide by the ten usability criteria for user interface design established by the Nielsen Norman Group. This highly respected organisation has been a leader in user experience for two decades. The criteria they have established are as follows:

  1. Status updates are easily viewable
  2. Conformity between model and reality
  3. Freedom and agency for the user
  4. Maintaining uniformity and high quality
  5. Protection from making mistakes
  6. In contrast to memory, recognition
  7. Utilisation efficiency and adaptability
  8. Style that is both aesthetically pleasing and modest
  9. Assist people in seeing issues, determining their cause, and fixing them
  10. The availability of assistance (which may take the form of “short tours” or “walkthroughs”)

Infatuation with New Ideas

Designers often create app idea screens with the aim of gaining a large number of likes on portfolio-displaying websites, such as Dribbble, in order to increase their visibility and be featured in the daily hot shots section. However, this approach of only presenting a small portion of the product, such as an elegant and simple UI design, is not enough to accurately portray the overall product. It would be like creating a vehicle door without providing any information about the rest of the automobile or how it performs in a real-world setting.

It is essential to emphasise the importance of innovation in design for the growth and development of any field of study or artistic endeavour; however, this should not be done at the expense of a positive user experience (UX). It is important to recognise that experimental design is a separate concept from this. Unfortunately, many websites prioritise being distinctive and cool over providing users with useful and intuitive design elements, which can have a negative effect on UX.

Functional Design for Easy Use

Usability is an essential quality feature that assesses the intuitiveness of user interfaces and is considered to be an integral part of creating an excellent user experience. Additionally, usability refers to the techniques and methods used to make a product easier to use and more intuitive.

The effectiveness of an application is not only determined by the features it offers, but also by the ease of use and overall user experience. Usability is an important factor to consider when developing an app, as it reflects how enjoyable and effortless it is to use the app. If an app has an attractive design, but fails to meet the standards of usability, it is unlikely to be successful.

It is essential for developers to explore innovative and captivating ways to design an application’s user interface. However, there should be a balance between creating something unique and providing a functional user experience. When constructing a navigation system for an app, it is important to consider the principles of consistency, user expectations, and contextual signals. Even if the idea behind the design of an eCommerce app is well-planned, it is useless if people are unable to find the products they are looking for.

Effective Design

What matters is more than how it appears and how it feels, as Steve Jobs put it. Creating a functional design is what makes everything go smoothly.

Effective layout was the topic of his discussion.

In order for an application to be successful, designers must be cognizant of the users’ existing preconceived notions of how the app should operate and strive to not conflict with them. If there is a major discrepancy between the users’ mental model – commonly referring to their internal representation of their knowledge or beliefs on the subject – and the conceptual model, the application will be doomed to failure.

In order to be effective, a user interface (UI) must incorporate signifiers in its design. Signifiers are essential in providing users with an understanding of how to interact with a product. Without them, a product’s design will be unsuccessful as users will be unable to determine what actions can be performed simply by looking at it. Therefore, signifiers must be included in the design of a UI in order to be effective.

Despite being passionate about your creation, it is important to remember that users only care about the degree to which it is beneficial to them. They are not interested in spending time navigating the user interface, trying to figure out what it can do. Steve Krug, an expert in user experience who has been in the field for more than two decades, emphasises this point in his book Don’t Make Me Think. He states that usability is the most important factor when determining the success of a design.

It is evident that the products we use regularly have a significant influence on our identity and our self-image. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that their aesthetic appeal is also essential in terms of practicality. Nevertheless, beauty can only be present in items that are expertly designed and constructed.

That is to say, the design must be effective in every respect.

It is important to remember that the aesthetic aspect is only one component of UX design, which falls under the responsibility of visual designers. This is the final step in the UX design process, which should build upon the earlier tasks such as defining business objectives, developing user personas, researching user behaviour, sketching ideas, wireframing, creating prototypes, and assessing usability. The aesthetic is the icing on the cake that provides the emotional impact of the user experience and creates a more positive overall user experience.

Ease Your Brain’s Workload

When Mr. and Mrs. Designer implement a design that is not user-friendly, they create an additional burden on users by forcing them to expend mental effort in deciphering complex symbols. This type of self-centred design hinders users’ progress and can lead to frustration and hostility. Is it reasonable to anticipate positive outcomes from such a strategy?

In order to enable users to develop a clear understanding of how to use the app and how to locate items, designers must ensure that labelling of links and buttons is clear and that signposts are easy to identify. It is important to maintain consistency in the positioning of the navigation, for example, such as by having it on a menu bar, and to make it obvious how to use it, for example, by providing hints via on-screen controls.

If users are expected to utilise a swiping action, it is important to ensure that the tap targets are large enough for them to easily tap. This will reduce the probability of users making mistakes when navigating the interface. It is important to be clear and concise in order to avoid confusion. Taking action is preferable to idly standing by. Hamburger and kebab menus (the three dots) should be avoided as they tend to obfuscate navigation and content discoverability. When searching for a hamburger, try to select menu items that closely resemble traditional hamburgers. Although there is a limited amount of room for navigation, research has indicated that using both top and bottom tabs in addition to the traditional hamburger menu can greatly improve usability.

The world is Imperfect

In order to ensure that customers are able to utilise and benefit from our product, we must reconsider our approach to usability and universal design. This includes accommodating those with visual, physical, and cognitive disabilities. According to the United States census, one in five Americans are disabled and in countries with a lower standard of living this number is likely closer to one in three. Therefore, it is essential that our app be highly accessible to those with visual impairments. Additionally, we must also take into account that customers may not have access to the same technology as we have used to create these displays.

Are you able to comfortably and easily navigate the app using only your fingers, or does it cause discomfort? Are you considering the amount of effort required to access different parts of the app? Are you mindful of user task flows that make it easy for users to find the features they need without having to search through the interface? Does the layout of the app support finger touches? Are you considering the area of the screen that may not be visible to the user due to their hand blocking it while holding the mobile device?

Have you considered the implications of how your designs would look and function on larger screens, as suggested by Luke Wroblewski in his article “Designing for Large Screen Smartphones”? It is important to consider the various factors that may influence the overall effectiveness of your designs when they are presented on devices with larger screens.

Does your layout comply with Apple’s recommended minimum target size of 44 pixels in width and 44 pixels in height, as outlined in the iPhone Human Interface Guidelines? Additionally, as per Microsoft’s Windows Phone UI Design and Interaction Guide, touch targets should ideally be 34 pixels in size, with a minimum of 26 pixels.

It is important to remember that having a lack of contrast between text and background, or text that is too small to be legible, does not necessarily create a “cool, clean, and minimalistic” design. Such choices may actually detract from the aesthetic and usability of your design.

More and Better Design Is Necessary

The fundamental question that arises is, what makes for an exemplary design? Generally, an excellent design is achieved when all components come together to provide the desired user experience. This is an expansive subject that could easily occupy an entire book.

This implies there are several dimensions and criteria that a design must satisfy in order to be considered “excellent” and helpful to people.

Interior design styles tend to evolve in cycles, with old trends making a return and new trends emerging. However, one element of design that is here to stay regardless of the latest fads is usability, which is central to user experience (UX) design. Typically, design trends last only a year or two before they are replaced by the next big thing.

We are confident that products designed with the seven principles of excellent user experience (UX) will stand the test of time, outlasting any passing design fads. By paying attention to essential usability, UX best practices, and interaction design norms, designers can ensure that their digital products will be well-received, thus leading to greater financial success. The elements that affect user experience are critical to the success of any digital product; therefore, designers should take the time to carefully consider these elements.

As a designer looking to hone your UX skills, it is important to take the time to understand the fundamentals of user experience design. Doing so will enable you to create applications that are not only visually appealing, but also are highly functional. To start, there are a number of great sources of information on the subject, such as The Works Design Blog, UX Magazine, UX Matters, UserTesting,, UX Design Weekly, and the Interaction Design Foundation. All of these can provide valuable insight into user experience design and can help you become a more knowledgeable and proficient designer.

Read user research that included actual, breathing humans. The statistics don’t lie, as the old adage goes; everything else is just speculation.

Experts in user experience design often utilise Twitter to stay abreast of industry trends and developments; consequently, following these experts is highly recommended. To research user experience, reading white papers and articles from reputable sources such as Nielsen Norman Group and Adaptive Path is a great way to gain a comprehensive understanding of the subject.

Medium is an excellent platform for staying up-to-date on the latest insights and trends within the UX/UI design industry. Designers from all over the world use it to expand their knowledge and gain valuable insights into the art of designing high-quality digital products. If you are looking for a reliable source to get your UX/UI design information and inspiration, the following designers are definitely worth following on Medium.

You should read some of the classic, seminal works that are on the shelves of every UX designer I know and consider them sacred texts.

  1. Don Norman’s seminal book on design The Design of Everyday Things
  2. Don Norman’s Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things
  3. Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think
  4. Jeff Gothelf’s Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience
  5. Jakob Nielsen’s Usability Engineering
  6. Susan Weinschenk’s 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People

It is recommended to research the various studies, whitepapers, and publications available on the internet in order to acquire a better understanding of usability standards, interaction design principles, and the best practices for user experience design.

  1. First Principles of Interaction Design
  2. Full set of 2,397 usability guidelines (across multiple reports) from the NNGroup
  3. 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design from the NNGroup
  4. Baymard Institute Articles: Baymard studies behaviour on eCommerce websites
  5. UX Mastery Articles: All things UX

Finally, make room in your iTunes collection for these five UX podcasts:

  1. UX Pod: Discussions with UX designers and about usability in general
  2. Inside Intercom: Interviews with top designers at leading companies
  3. UX Podcast for people passionate about balancing business, technology, and users
  4. UIE Podcast: Insights from User Interface Engineering on the world of design
  5. True North: Uncovering design stories highlighting design testing and research

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