Let me explain the situation.

I started transforming an "old (.Net 2.0)" Application into a webapplication.

Problem here is, that no-one here is really acquainted with the UX of a website (simple, efficient). Even though, I still have to regard that the website can be tailored to a customer needs through parameters.

For example:

  • I wanted to have a layout similar to Invoice Machine (as simple as possible).

    • He wants a Ribbon toolbar.
  • Going to a supplier gives the list of supplier

    • He wants to display the "Create Supplier" screen where you can use the wildcards in a certain textbox, to search for a specific Supplier and then give the list of the suppliers.
  • Also, I need 4 search/filter mechanisms:

    • people can search per field with wildcards
    • can filter the suppliers
    • search a keyword through all the data of a supplier
    • filter the "list Suppliers" page by the first letter of the name.

LIST Suppliers

* | A | D | Z
- Adam Wrincle             ADD |EDIT |Delete
- Damzel InDistress        ADD |EDIT |Delete
- Zorro                    ADD |EDIT |Delete

I can't seem to get through to him, that the UX of a website needs to be different than a Windows application. If he wants to bring all the logic of the windows app into a website, why build a website then? Stick to the old solution.

Am I mistaking so hard or how could I convince/show him that an online solution is something different than the offline solution.

He already "saw" online solutions of other applications to get an idea, but if I suggest something he won't listen (if it's GUI / UX related, that is).

Additional information (edit):

About the Hippo thing, i don't actually care about it. My boss does all the sales, so he is closest to the customers. Even though i read alot about webapplications and about the UX-experience and that is the difference.

The problem is, that first of all, the current Ribbon implementations that are out their, easily break and are meant for power users. The ribbon gives a user information overflow, people can search at any place (3 searches, ...) which makes the application less user-friendly.

I strongly believe in "Giving actions when they should", that means, where you can see the list of Clients, their you can click the edit/ delete / view button. For the search, I would implement one search box where you can look for everything (with an implementation like : Visual Search jQuery plugin )

Also, while a desktop implementation is easier scalable than a webapp (it doesn't need to scale), there has to be a difference. This is why I would suggest to make different roles (sales, purchase, accounting) and provide them with the tools they need (Invoicing menu, Products menu, ...).

The current desktop application can remove every single field which a client can see, based on their needs and not only that, every client has some 1000 parameters to choose from. This would create a huge overhead for every client that logs in and could give me problems on the long-term. (currently in development phase, so no caching yet)

Nothing in the application is final, I just want to know that I'm doing right by "not protesting because the boss wants it so, but I want to be sure I have a reason.

I am fairly new in the company also and I have used their desktop application and it's NOT user-friendly. Even I, with an IT background, think some things are illogical, but off course, after a while you get used to it and adapt to the situation. But that is not how it should be is it? :-)

My personal experience is that the Ribbon is good when you need a lot of functions, all the time. But 85% of the toolbar is "unusable" in a webapplication. You can create new invoice, products easier by selecting products in the menu and select new. (that is my personal opinion).

Currently, their are not a lot of users (2 and 1 client), so there are not a lot of people who can discuss the layout of it.

What I also think is unreasanable, is that some users could have only the ability to create suppliers... Which would mean the possible UX of the ribbon is also worthless :s

Good comment below, but i would like to see it adjusted to above arguments (with edit below it please), so i could get a deeper understanding what other webdevelopers think about my current situation.

  • Who is your target audience? Will they expect the UI to be similar to the existing application. If you want a web based solution that acts like a desktop application then Silverlight may be the way to go.
    – ChrisF
    Nov 17, 2011 at 12:48
  • Why should a webapp be any different than a desktop application? I think it is a mistake to assume just because something is on the web it should work one way, and if it is on the desktop it should act another. It should solve the problem in the best way for the users. A webapp is just a program that I don't have to install and requires a internet connection. Invoice Machine looks nice but it doesn't require that many controls to achieve it's workflows. Is your app really that simple or does it require a Ribbon or something in between? Taking patterns from the desktop isn't a bad thing. Nov 17, 2011 at 18:11
  • Quit wasting time arguing and just build both. Ultimately the best solution is probably somewhere in the middle.
    – user34284
    Aug 6, 2013 at 6:16
  • 1
    UX ideas are ignored when they don't come from UX designers, and if they come from UX designers then they are considered before being ignored. Even UX designers sometimes ignore their own advice. You can spend more time arguing about what needs to be done, or have a backup plan in case something ends up being poorly designed.
    – Michael Lai
    Sep 5, 2013 at 7:52
  • @ChrisF Silverlight is at its end of life. Chrome no longer supports it, neither does Firefox. IE announce it'll stop supporting it in 2017.
    – CleverNode
    Jan 26, 2016 at 18:46

10 Answers 10


This sounds like a case of HIPPO (HIghest Paid Persons Opinion). I would recommend throwing together a quick wireframe with your ideas on. Get together some of your team to discuss the new wireframe proposal. If you find some other staff like these ideas it may help change your bosses decision.

Break up how a user would achieve a certain task and work out if there is a better way to do it for web patterns than desktop software, like you said I've never really seen a ribbon online, but that's not saying a user wouldn't "get it" if they had used it on a desktop app before.

Find out what your users think of your existing offering. Do they like it? is it usable? consider doing some testing and user research, they might have got comfortable with how the desktop version works.

Another thing to consider is how would an expert user react to your changes? You may think you have the silver bullet but if you radically change the existing UI so much you will alienate existing users and present them with something new to learn, even if it would be a benefit in the long run. Unless something is so bad it needs a total overhaul, the best way to approach this is with incremental changes.

  • 9
    +100 for "Find out what your users think of your existing offering." This is the perfect time for a usability test. Make two prototypes. Have the users try them. See what happens. ...maybe your boss's design is actually better! Nov 17, 2011 at 14:33
  • 4
    The problem is that the boss is already convinced that his idea is better. So he probably does not want to invest any time in a usability study, or even an alternative prototype. Nov 17, 2011 at 14:57
  • 1
    @BartGijssens I would assume that's likely to be the case as well, I'd certainly still suggest the idea however.
    – Ben Brocka
    Nov 17, 2011 at 15:26
  • 2
    Sharepoint uses a Ribbon these days, also office web apps and other related stuff. Regardless of how much I actually truly hate Sharepoint, the ribbon toolbar was a change towards something better and more unified. It's still rubbish imo, but it's not the ribbon toolbar's fault. It actually enables nicely context sensitive commands in a predictable position and with a consistent look ^^ Nov 18, 2011 at 14:25
  • 1
    The proof of the pudding is in the testing.
    – PhillipW
    Aug 9, 2013 at 12:13

NicoJuicy, if your boss is the end-user, then you are not going to like this answer. You should go by what the end-user feels comfortable with -- which is all about UX.

If the end-user is someone else, then are you building the application without consulting them? Try talking to the end-user to resolve your dilemma.

It helps to remember that bosses and users do not think like developers.


As a developer, I can say with certainty that developers and bosses designing the user experience will only end in pain - for everyone. If this app will have high usage or high visibility, I would recommend bringing in a consultant that specializes in User Experience and website design. Not only will they come up with alternatives that neither you nor your boss may have thought of, but they will be able to back up recommendations with user testing, case studies, etc..


This is exactly the sort of conundrum that is best dealt with by user testing.

Put both examples through a rigorous round of moderated user testing with given objectives. The results and outcomes will be brutally honest, and agnostic. User testing helps strip away subjective, personal opinion and replaces it with cold hard facts. It either works or it doesn't. If it doesn't work, change it.

  • 1
    The argument for user testing has been made a few times against this question, so that is nothing new. However I'll play devils-advocate here though - user testing means you actually have to build the versions first in order to test them. Isn't it an overall waste of time and money building something your boss wants when you can be reasonably confident that it's not going to test well and have a far better, researched approach that you'd want to build instead? User testing is fine as a concept, but it takes time & money to get to that stage. Wasting business time is expensive.
    – JonW
    Aug 1, 2013 at 10:45
  • 2
    @JonW You can test with a paper prototype. At this level, you don't need to have the application built for you are just testing the workflow and how users would react to different methods. Low fidelity testing would not take near as much time and cost as testing with a developed application.
    – wootcat
    Aug 1, 2013 at 13:08

I would like to share some tips that I found useful in this kind of situations:

  1. Talk to your boss about numbers, percentages and return on investment (ROI).

    Try to backup your arguments with studies and numbers. Tell him that the X study of X users found out that if we do it like that we will have X improvement in efficiency or X euros increased sales. I know that you cannot find related studies for every single problem but I am sure that you can find some online that can help you convince your boss for specific issues.

  2. Users research

    Extensive users’ research can be proven useful in supporting your ideas. It will be good to do some users interviews, surveys, focus groups or whatever suits to you and your project. You can use users’ quotes or survey results in order to support your solution. Be careful here because many times users’ opinions don’t express optimum solution to a problem. To solve that issue try to test as much as you can.

  3. Test, test, test!

    Testing is the best way to convince your boss that solution X is better than solution Y. Depends on the resources and time that you have. You can use different type of test that definitely will convince your boss about the best solution.

    For example do a card sorting test to see the best information architecture/labeling for your application. Do usability tests to find out in which UI the users perform better, analyse the results and present them to your boss together with video from the sessions. Maybe it will be good for your boss to participate as an observer during the tests. In my experience this is the best way to convince them. When they see real users struggling to perform a task then they understand that something is going wrong with the interface.

From my experience all these have worked with this kind of bosses. I wish you good luck!


Maybe if you can get your boss to agree to user/usability testing, your boss might see the benefit in your design - or the other way around. Let the target audience decide on which UI/UX works best for them.


I created a free account at Invoice Machine... I'm not a fan of the C_UD interface for a data oriented app. I had a similar requirement, where functionality and features took precedent over design aesthetic .

@Captian has a great point about going with the Highest Paid Person's Opinion... If you go that route, here are some controls that may help:

First, is a MVC control that may help you. I think Telerik has a free version, if that's an issue.

Also, here is an ASP.NET version that isn't too bad either.


What Captain Spectacular said. Also try to get into the mind set of your boss. Try to explain how improved UX translates the company's values. Use his own buzz words. Be excited and enthusiastic.

But in the end, if you do not succeed, know that at least you tried. You did your duty. Don't let it discourage you to try again next time.


I think end user of the software is the best person to decide how layout should be. It doesn't matter for end user if the product that he is using is of latest technology or with a polished UI or anything that we as a developer think as important. Most of the people(end users) will be delighted with not to move out of their comfort zone and use new features of their software but in old fashion. I am working on a software which exists from ages on desktop. When we moved it to web with some changes in UI users were confused about using it. End user does not know why web app should behave different than desktop app. When we changed our web app to function exactly how it used to be in desktop, the feedback was much much positive. So conclusion, customer is the king :)


I can understand you, it's really frustrating. From my point of view there are some solutions: 1) Change Job as fast as you can, this kind of boss can't help you to improve your work experience and to wake-up happy every morning. 2) Off course, before to leave your job I suggest to prove how UCD process and UX process works, try to improve small thinks (if it's possible) and highlights the results ! 3) Explain to your boss that you can do more and better because ... (see point 2 about UCD abd UX research and results) and take his trust !

But Finally I suggest number 1 ! :)

  • Just because your boss doesn't understand your point of view doesn't mean your workplace is unhealthy. Aug 8, 2013 at 23:30
  • Probably there are some misunderstanding in my reply, I want clarify the concept and tell you what I mean better. This is my personal point of view based on my past experience. You probably know that you must build a culture and/or consensus in UX if you Boss or team or IT or other people are involved in project. Unfortunately bosses in general give you sometimes to make better UX or in some cases make you the opportunity with money and budget to improve your work experience. Without opportunity it's impossibile to improve your skills and to be happy, it's like Don Chisciotte against the will
    – Diegoair
    Jan 4, 2014 at 18:56

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