The Catch 22
Shared by studyboards.net · 46d ago · 15 comments
studyboards.net · 46d ago

Hi, just got feedback for the week, and it's a recurring theme. Concept seems to be clear and recognised as valuable, but time and time again I'm told the site could use an update to the design. Well, this is precisely why I am on Pioneer and hoping to get some funding to be able to PAY for a TRAINED and EXPERIENCED designer to take a look at the landing page and get it looking as one would expect a great product to look.

I am an experienced teacher turned software developer whose strength is in designing and implementing practical systems based on his 'first principles' insights as a teacher. This is my focus - the product needs to work right and be genuinely useful for both teachers and students.

It is a comprehensive tool that requires a huge amount of work to work right (6 years in development and iterations and 3 years of testing with students). Actual substance over glitzy, marketed superficiality for stuff that barely works. In fact, 50% of schools are not happy with their Learning Management Systems BECAUSE they are all about SELLING and not so much about DOING.

So far, every student I have used it with (over 30) has loved it and finds it uniquely practical, and actually really like the design of the boards. HOWEVER, everyone else, be that teachers, schools and voters on Pioneer stick their noses up at it, to one degree or another, because the design doesn't instantly communicate on some emotional level that it's something worth giving a shot.

It's the very first thing I wrote to the chap who invited me to Pioneer about - that funding would help with the design. Doing design is not my strength, but because I don't have the finances to pay for a designer, I feel I am unable to rise higher in the tournament in order to have a chance of...getting the finances to pay for a designer.

It is a rant and a kind of a complaint. I stopped doing regular weekly updates because it's the same thing every time. I don't see Pioneer necessarily helping those who don't already have some funding to pay for designers that will help get the project the vote, no matter how original and useful the product might be.

One week I get 7 up votes and 1 down, next week, after taking on the feedback and making improvements, I will get 1 up and 6 down. Kind of broken, no?

AndyDent-Touchgram · 40d ago

One week I get 7 up votes and 1 down, next week, after taking on the feedback and making improvements, I will get 1 up and 6 down. Kind of broken, no?

The thing to remember is that the votes are based simply on who you are compared against that week so unless you are consistently getting voted down, don't worry about it and ignore any dips.

Not being mean, but the audience here on Pioneer is often very naive and will repeat generic advice they have got from other sites or books.

So, take actionable advice from Pioneers seriously if it seems well thought. Take criticism lightly and if it contradicts what's apparently working with real users, ignore it.

On the topic of students loving it but others ignoring, try just publishing some video of them talking about it. Make real people the first thing seen on the site.

studyboards.net · 40d ago

Thanks for the message.

The inconsistency just makes it very hard to assess whether I'm really on the right path or not. I guess the inconsistency suggests that maybe not.

My issue is with the emphasis on aesthetic and design. All the winners have already pro-polished sites, and have had money to pay for that, unless they Pioneer is a designer him/herself and has created some vapourware :)

I didn't think that I would ever reach that level of polish on my own, being a systems designer and prioritising the functionality. No matter what I tried I just couldn't crack it. 80% of the time I was not happy with my effort and didn't know how to improve it, of the 20% of the time I was happy enough with it 50% on Pioneer liked it, 50% said it was meh - not such a good proportion.

In this last week I've managed to rebuild the whole landing page, after finding a concept for above the fold. Each of my teacher acquaintances I've A-B tested it with much prefer the new one, visually and wording-wise.

We'll see how the Pioneer posse will take to it, and how lecturing some will get about what I actually should do, like they are somehow founders of 10 consecutive unicorns. Not to mention making assumptions about what education apps should be...fuuuuuuun, just make it fuuuuuun, just make it stupid and fun and gamified and fun.

Nah, my experience has shown that feeding students the equivalent of big macs and mars bars gives some temporary satisfaction but very little nourishment. The greatest reward a student gets is when they realize they have learnt something as a result of effort, and not because the teacher gave them a gold star, or an A, or their team won a round of Kahoot.

Who doesn't recognise that education is fundamentally broken on so many levels? And we still want to copy others and keep doing the same things because weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, games, fun, weeeeeeeeee....

Does that mean I'm saying lessons should not have fun? Absolutely not, this is not a binary world, but the subtle differences make all the differences - it's about what we're guided/motivated by.

Regarding your video idea, I'll never say never to any suggestion, but there are downsides to it too. Students can drone on or it could be scripted but come off as fake, and like with the design challenge, proper production also costs money. Plenty of people have suggested videos to me but they are imagining some polished result, with info graphics, moving images, good sound production, etc., without understanding what it takes to make anything look good and professional.

I had a video before (myself explaining the features), but users either didn't get it or switched off because it isn't such an obvious thing to explain, especially as it's completely new. Everyone makes the assumption that it has to be some copy of something else they already know, especially since it's not polished in its design and production. The lack of polish, and inconsistency with the rest, would once again make them think 'meh'. So for now I'm sticking with the interactive demo - far more original, and practical, and consistent in quality.

AndyDent-Touchgram · 39d ago

being a systems designer and prioritising the functionality

I'm an aspiring designer, always trying to improve my skills, but dev of 40 years experience so that's obviously my comfort zone.

I too am mired in prioritising functionality. I also have a unique product (proven by my international patents as well as many conversations). So I get you.

If you want some help with how you talk to people to get feedback, very highly recommend http://momtestbook.com/

studyboards.net · 39d ago

Thanks for the link. Site looks interesting. Everything has levels of depth and subtlety that, once you grasp, you increase your chance of creating something genuinely good. Will take a read!

manojranaweera · 45d ago

You don't need funding to fix your problems. There are many other options available to you.

One such is https://skilledup.life - free talent for tech startups. Presume you can afford £30/month, which is our lowest subscription. Once subscribed, you should be easily able to find UI/UX designers who are willing to fix your problem. We have a lot of them.

Do reach out if interested manoj.ranaweera@skilledup.life