Why You Should Stay Humble When Criticizing Other Products

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It’s easy to complain. People love it. It’s cathartic, and a small part of you probably thinks you’re helping make the world a better place.

When you have a bad product experience, there is a natural tendency to gripe about the design choices. The tone you take here is telling. Making products is really hard, but problems are often dismissed as having obvious solutions.

This came up in a recent interview we did with Samuel Hulick of UserOnboard.com. You can check out the podcast below.

At UserOnboard, Samuel critiques the onboarding experiences of popular products. In our interview, Samuel insisted that he tries to avoid saying something is right or wrong.

The reason? He’s not on the inside. He doesn’t know internal conversion rates and what really affects the user experience.

For example, he was looking at an app that asked new users to invite friends before getting deep into the app. Normally, this is a bad idea. It is (for most apps) the wrong time to be social. That caveat “for most apps” turns out to be important because in this case, it was wrong. After saying it was weird, the product designers got in touch and said “We hate it too! But it really helps users get engaged and retained”.

In this case, engagement and retention was improved by adding an invite flow. Go figure

For me, I’ve seen product design internals at Facebook and Dropbox. I’d often read stories from outsiders guessing about something internal. The stories were very frequently wrong. And it only takes a few such examples before you wonder if every story you hear about is wrong, from an outsider.

This annihilates trust. So if you want to keep credibility and maybe learn something new, keep an open and humble mind when critiquing products.

Check out this and the rest of our interview below. Subscribe to get future YesGraph posts here.