Improving an app for a client - where do you start?

Hello everyone!

I hope you are all doing great.

I am writing you because I would like to have some expert’s advise about how to start a new project. I am a junior UX designer, and so far I’ve been conducting user research for design agencies, and now I got a project opportunity from a client (he is also a friend of mine) that wants to improve his app.


  • The app is related to books (buying, selling, sharing…)
  • The team has performed several iterations for the app.
  • There is a developer and a UI designer working on it.
  • They have a high-fidelity prototype.
  • They already have coded a big part of it (there are some features and parts of the app that are not coded yet).
  • There are small differences between the coded version and the prototype.
  • I don’t have information about users, because there aren’t users yet.
  • I don’t know exactly where/what the problems are, but he told me about some parts that could possibly lead users to confusion.
  • He wants me to see how can we improve the app.
  • I will work on it 2 days a week during three weeks.

My questions:

How do you start working? Do you do an heuristic analysis of the app, or a test? How would you approach it? Would you start only testing only one flow?

Do you have recommendations on how to start projects like that? What kind of workflow would you recommend given the time that I have?

Thanks a lot for your help! :slight_smile:

While it is common to not have users for a new product or service, surely there must be intended users?

At minimum there should be a list of assumptions in the form of use cases of user stories describing which problems you want to solve for whom, when, why, and in which context, along with the behaviors and characteristics of the intended users, a form of proto-persona(s).

Before proper user testing can be performed with a prototype or an MVP we can still attempt to validate these assumptions through interviews with those closest to the users, by looking at competitors and wonder why they do it in a certain way.

If no such documentation exists, I would start there, take a step back with the stakeholders and identify the users and their needs, and how they relate to the business goals of the client, before attempting to improve on the solution to those problems.


Definitely need to find out the target audience and find out about them. It sounds like this was an idea that was built without seeing if there is a need for it. Do some competitive analysis and see what those audiences are and go from there.


@Sandstrand and @jdebari Thank you very much for your answers, I really appreciate it, and you are totally right, I’ll have to start by knowing the users, or at least do some competitive analysis, make assumptions & validate them. Even if it’s a small thing, like a proto-persona, but it will definetely help me to get started.

The only thing I see that may cause trouble is that I just joined their team and I am afraid that I am going to be the “evil” one by putting in doubt all the work they have done before me… I guess this is a common situation among UX designers, having to justify why we should start by doing user research and the importance of knowing the user. I also have the feeling that the expectations that they have about me are more about improving certain flows by changing elements on the screen, and not so much about research. I really want to do research, but the team is not user-oriented at all, and I have the feeling that it’s going to be hard to change the mindset.

Do you have any tips on that?

Thank you very much for your answers :pray:

@egimenezcalvo, start with small steps and don’t make any big asks right away. For example, I use Usability Hub to do quick tests with users to start bringing in user insights.

Hope that helps!

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