This past week, we launched a major update to an app where we got to start over from scratch with a new design and a completely new code base. While I never encourage a developer to read reviews on the App Store (the reviews are sometimes written by clueless people who have an axe to grind; some are legitimate gripes).
A number of the reviews said that they liked the old design better than the new design. The old design had a grid layout using the Three20 library that Facebook open sourced and uses in their app. This grid layout is not used in any Apple app and is pretty much against all the design guidelines from Apple. In addition, our old design used page curls and a very strange navigation paradigm that made sense to no one that has ever used other iOS apps. Our new design follows Apple guidelines as close as possible, uses standard navigation, standard buttons, etc.
I think that many people are so used to poorly designed apps that they take them as standard, so when an app comes along that more closely resembles Apple guidelines, they think it is ugly and works poorly. It is kind of sad that people can’t see the difference between ugly, hard to use apps and elegant apps. Apple spent a significant amount of time coming up with design guidelines and making an SDK that allows developers to follow the guidelines.
I’ll make it my mission to educate users one at a time on what apps are well designed and which ones aren’t.