Tackling design interviews #1: the app critique

I’ve gotten a few questions over the past few years around how to prep for an app critique that comes as part of a product design interview. App critiques are becoming more popular as a means to test the skills of a product design candidate. I’ve gone through a few of those myself when I was interviewing for design jobs, and have refined a framework that I’ve found to work best for myself.

(For additional reading, Julie Zhou from Facebook has written a great post about approaching the critique.)

Here’s my personal framework for approaching the app critique: you want to break out your critiques into the different aspects.

  • Product value proposition: start with a broad critique the value proposition of the product (does it make sense? does it actually address the need it was built for?) You should kick this off by declaring who you think the app was built for, and what purpose it was built to serve.
  • UX Design/Information Architecture: Then narrow to a UX/information architecture critique (are there parts of the app flow that don’t make sense? Is the information hierarchy right? Are there things that should be in the main nav that isn’t?)
  • UI Design/Design System: Then narrow to a UI critique (what do you think about the design system? Does it convey the right feeling? Is it consistent throughout the app? are font sizes too small?)

If you have time, go even narrower:

  • Microinteractions: are there particular opportunities for nice microinteractions? Are there microinteractions that are superfluous?
  • Accessibility: is this good for low vision users? Is color contrast acceptable? Are font sizes/tap targets too small?

Of course, nothing is going to roll of your tongue unless you practice, practice, practice! You should identify two types of apps: popular apps like Yelp or Linkedin, and apps that are comparable to the product of the company you’re interviewing for. Run through the above framework with these practice apps several times.

Good luck!

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