I’m pretty sure you’ve seen the picture on the left sometimes. Funny, right? Also, I’m pretty sure you felt identified with it sometime(unless you work on Apple or Google, of course). But, have you ever asked yourself why?
I do. And I’m not sure if I have the right answer but I want to share my thoughts.
One thing is clear and I think is the main reason. Right now, Google, Apple or companies like these doesn’t have shown to the user how great are they on the home page or the first screen of the app. Usually, we, the product manager or the client think the application must do the user fall in love with it showing all the great features on the first screen, and then we get something like the last part of the joke on the image.
But as you can realize, this will only confuse the user. They are not going to understand what the app does or where to start(and at some point, as developers, we also began to get confused).
OK, I get it, my app is messy.
The first thing to do is accept it and don’t take it personally. Try to think if somebody could understand the app unless you explain it. Is the app usable? Could your mom understand it? A big an explanation or tutorial is not a good option, nobody wants to lose time learning something if they don’t even know if the app will be helpful.
So…what should we do?
In an old post from 1997 Jakob Nielsen wrote this paragraph about writing for the Web:
Reading from computer screens is about 25% slower than reading from paper. Even users who don’t know this human factors research usually say that they feel unpleasant when reading online text. As a result, people don’t want to read a lot of text from computer screens: you should write 50% less text and not just 25% less since it’s not only a matter of reading speed but also a matter of feeling good. We also know that users don’t like to scroll: one more reason to keep pages short.
He is talking about texts on the web, but it is equally useful to our problem. So take a look at your app and clean it! If you are not sure where to start, just use common sense, because your users are going to understand less than you. Try to find out if the main functionality is clear. Remember simple is better the users don’t need to see in just one screen all the available features of the app. Keep it clean, usable and accessible.
Work as a team
Developers and designers should work together to fix this kind of problems. Remember, a developer could know the difference between something pretty or ugly, but it doesn’t mean he is a designer. Also, a designer could know something about coding, but that doesn’t make him a programmer.
Someone who understands both worlds is very useful, especially for a startup where resources are limited but don’t make the mistake of letting someone do what is not supposed to do. Work as a team, have meetings, discuss your problems, have some brainstorms, etc. And if you feel stuck, go out and spend some time doing something you enjoy, like playing video games(I still love super Mario bros), cooking(yes, I cook very well) or just go out and take a walk, is the best way to find solutions.