We started developing JibberJobber in March of 2006.
That wasn’t too long ago, but a LOT has changed in the world of the internet since then. Our first design (UI/UX) was fine, although we had a list a mile long of improvements and enhancements. We focused a lot more on processes and features than on making it look pretty.
Later, I got a message from someone that said the design was outdated (read: not keeping up with popular websites), and although he liked the functionality, he couldn’t “trust” us with his credit card for an upgrade because the design didn’t instill trust.
Isn’t that interesting?
So, we began to look much more seriously at the UI with the idea that we wanted people to TRUST us. They needed to feel confident that we were still around, and still making improvements. Changes (and keeping up) with UI would, I guess, help that.
In 2012 we did a big new redesign (I blogged about it here). Within days someone completely new to JibberJobber wrote and complained that the design looked too old, perhaps something from the 1990s.
You seriously can’t please everyone.
I’ve had graphics artists and layout people sign up, while in job search, and within 20 minutes delete their account saying they didn’t like the design. I hated that. I wished they would have said “man! Change this! Change the color! Change something!” instead of just “don’t like UI.” I know, I know, it’s not their responsibility to say what to do, but if one of them emailed and said:
“I love the tool, but the design could use a lot of work. I have a lot of suggestions… here are five of them. Feel free to incorporate those, and if you are interested in a consultation, let me know. I do this professionally and would love to help JibberJobber’s look match it’s awesome functionality.”
See what I did there? First, the person didn’t whine and stomp off like a little kid who didn’t get what they wanted, second, they offered specific solutions, and third, let me know that they were bought in and wanted to be a part of the team (even if just a contractor).
I would have absolutely had that conversation, and would have most likely hired them for the next step, to see if they could really walk the talk.
But I got never got that email. Not once.
Design is hard. I feel like we’ve been focusing on it a lot this year, and it’s frustrating to watch other sites with design crews go crazy and essentially define what great design is supposed to look like. But this article by Greg Story really helped ease that frustration: And They All Look Just the Same. At the very end he says ” It does nobody any good to have a web that all looks the same. Be mindful of the user’s needs and business requirements, but for the sake of success, go a different route. ” Read the whole article, it is excellent.
I’m not saying we don’t want to have a better visual experience. We do, and are working on it, and will continue to work on it. But I don’t think I’m going to fret about not keeping up with Twitter’s, LinkedIn’s and Facebook’s UI, when really what my best users and customers need and want is better UX – the experience, the functionality, the tools, the reports, etc. Yes, UI will be a part of that, and we’re aware of doing better there, but no longer can I waste time worrying about “keeping up.”
What do you think?