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?