Users preferred the less straightforward UX — and I finally understand why
The initial version of my app had all the information available with 0 clicks from the home screen. And users hated it…
Two years ago, I learned a valuable lesson about creating good UX:
It might not seem intuitive, but sometimes users prefer the less straightforward UX
At this time, I was building the first version of a new cross-platform app called Skiwise. I thought I was creating the best experience possible, but as I later learned, straightforward doesn’t always equal intuitive.
This is the story of how I learned this lesson, and how these learnings can help you build better software.
Skiwise is an app that lets cross-country skiers access crowd-sourced reports on the trail conditions of various ski trails. This lets them decide where to ski on a given day and what skis/wax/clothes to bring with them. You can think of this as essentially “the weather app for cross-country ski trails”.
With the goal clear, the initial version of the UI looked something like this:
As you can see, the main page contains a list of trails you follow and displays the most recent trail report from each trail. “This is great”, I thought at the time, “The info is instantaneous! You can browse the newest trail reports in 2 seconds! There’s no friction! People will love this!”.
And the result? People didn’t love it.
So, I went back to the basics. And there’s nothing more basic than watching users interact with your app. But, it wasn’t until I put the app in the hands of my Mother that I discovered the problem.
She loaded the app, got to the home screen, scrolled a bit, stopped, scrolled some more, stopped again, then looked at me and said “what now?”.