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Quick disclaimer: I'm not a trained or an experienced UX developer and am still quite new to a lot of the concepts. However on the current web project, I am working pretty much designated on UX and UI designer role along with one other person.

I am currently working on a web project that at some stage in the process involves a form for filling out information to create an account for a new user. This involves a 5 step process (the first step is optional).

It's relatively straight-forward and since I wanted the process to show how many steps are required and what they are. I opted to use a vertical stepper very similar to that seen in material design (https://material.io/guidelines/components/steppers.html). In fact the page is very simple and mostly uses the stepper design outlined in the material design style guide. The reason I opted for a vertical stepper is because the business admitted that they may wish to add additional steps in the future.

However the feedback we got on it is that the stepper is not 'obvious enough' and doesn't look visually appealing enough. You can go back to previous steps in the stepper to edit what you previously had and we have the ability for the user to click the title or an edit icon next to it. However the person providing feedback (director in this case) said that they felt they should look more like full size buttons rather than just 'text on a page'.

In my view, the stepper design is quite clean and intuitive, however I guess I'm looking at this from another generation. I also didn't feel like the design needed to be more visually appealing since usability for filling out a form should be king here, in my view.

Of all the parts of the design we have done so far this is the part of the web application that I did not expect to receive such criticism on and I'm not 100% sure how to approach this problem. In my view the design is correct for what the business needs but of course a director's feedback will often hold a lot of weight in the final design.

How can I approach building a design for this type of form that will be intuitive and usable but also somehow more obvious and visually appealing? Or is my solution to try and convince the person providing feedback that this is the correct approach?

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I'm guessing you have already done something here, but I figured I would follow up.

You do not have a real design problem here. Your challenge is with your stakeholder. You need to find out what drives this stakeholder to understand how to best maneuver in this position. You need to engage them in the design process and identify what success means to them.

Is this person influenced by evidence? If so, then you may be best off showing how well different designs perform. Present multiple designs with different benefits early on. This can be on paper. Test the current product with real users and have the stakeholder watch too. Test prototypes with real users and have the stakeholder watch.

I have worked with high-level managers of other companies who behave this way sometimes. They usually change their tune when they see real people fumbling around in their software.

If you don't have designers, then your organization is early in their maturity. Talking about it is a good sign that the journey is getting started.

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