How UI design affects Padgram downloads (stats inside)

A lot of people has suggested UI design (especially app icon) is important for an app. And it’s well proved in Padgram.

In Padgram 1.0, the design uses wooden texture:

Wooden texture is a fashionable design in 2012. It’s said to be good for photo viewing app. Our design combines wooden texture with transparent glass. It has the metaphor that your iPad is a wooden table, you put glass on it and photo over the glass. It’s good, isn’t it? While it’s hard to control from design perspective as it’s used in large scale. Using the app for long time easily causes aesthetic fatigue – it’s the case for our team members, and i bet it also happens on user end.

We realized wood texture might work its best when using only small pieces as decorator or some components like buttons, title bar or tab bar, but if using for the whole background, it’s not easy to control. The most stunning design with wooden texture is from App Design Vault. But after purchased and tried the template, it’s still not suitable for Padgram. And we did the refund (Thanks for App Design Vault to make the refund so easy).

And looking at the icons:

None of them are attractive enough, even for team members ourselves. Then it’s not surprising the download count is not good enough. For the first one month, we average 70 downloads (see below for stats). That’s really shame for a free app!

So we decided to redesign the app. It was painful, we didn’t add features, actually we remove many features. We dropped waterfall view (the reason is written here). We dropped portrait mode support. And we dropped wooden texture, replaced with a simple and light-weighted texture. Below is the new design:

And we hired a designer on Elance to design an icon. It costs us $50, but absolutely worth the money.

Since Padgram 2.0 released, the app downloads are increased for 3.5 times!

The soar was achieved under exactly the same condition: no promotion, no PR. For the reason why downloads are increased so much, the icon counts 70%. And of course the app itself, with unique value, is the key.

As a conclusion:

  • Good design really works
  • Simplify the app, make the core features work the best!
  • App Design Vault can be referred if you want to try some designs. It’s refundable, that’s important!
  • Icon is super important. Make sure you hired the right talent
  • Refer to Elance or Freelancer if you lack of design resource

After receiving many positive feedbacks, we’re confident with what we’re offering. We will start next stage – promotion. I’ll write down what we learned as time goes.

Check out Padgram App Page, or download it here.

15 thoughts on “How UI design affects Padgram downloads (stats inside)”

  1. Interesting article but the “we hired a designer on Elance to design an icon. It costs us $50, but absolutely worth the money” part is shocking, are you kidding me? I am not even sure where to begin, either the fact that you used Elance, or that you paid $50 for an icon or even that you seem to suggest $50 for a custom designed icon is a lot but worth the money, really? You might have never worked with a designer in the past but I am sure you would never develop an app for such little money.

    1. Yes, here is the communication record:

      Thanks A G. for replying.

      We’ve started redesigning the app. Major UI will look like as attached. We simplified the waterfall view to include less info as too much info is distracting. We want to make the app nice and clean. However, the user interaction will be all the same as the one on App Store. So you could try the app to understand how it works.

      To better understand the aim of the app, you can check our blog:…. Basically we want it to be the best discovery/exploration app for Instagram. We want to make it easier for user to find interesting photos and people. To get that, we add some features our competitors don’t have, like:
      – tag subscription
      – tag auto-complete
      – user name auto-complete
      And there are more to come.

      As for metaphor, i guess a compass, telescope or other discovery/exploration elements could work.

      We need it as stunning as possible, simply stand out of all other Instagram apps in the store:
      iVisual for Instagram

      Let’s get started. Do we need to sign a contract or something? Sorry i am new on Elance. Could you provide an estimated schedule? Thanks,


      So yes, i perferred telescope or compass, but their work on those is not stunning enough. Through several back and forth, we get the icon as in the article.

  2. great article! congratulations on your success

    the icon looks great… can you provide the contact information for your designer?

  3. Thanks for referring App Design Vault, I like to provide great support so its good to see you appreciate it.

    The design you ended up with looks really nice. Well done

    It’s a shame you were not able to use Photoly for that. But maybe next time another template 🙂

  4. I’m always looking for good UI designers/graphics artists. Can you post the link here, and also send it to me via email?

  5. Hey! Someone in my Myspace group shared this site with us so I came to check it out. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Superb blog and excellent design and style.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *