Android: New User Experience: Overwhelming and Scary

I just installed Flowx on my Android smartphone (OnePlus 5). Since the developer wants to provide a good experience, I hope the following feedback will be useful.

I found out about the application from Popular Science (no link; “new users are only allowed to post 2 links”). I wanted to find an application that would show me the current and near-term outdoor humidity for health reasons.

After installing the application from the Google Play Store, I had no trouble setting my location or understanding the map. However, I couldn’t figure out what the 2 graphs were trying to show me or what the row of red and blue numbers corresponded to at the top of the screen. It was also scary to suddenly lose the top bar. It felt like Flowx was trying to hijack my phone like malware.

I guessed that most of the mystery numbers were from irrelevant measurements so I tapped the 3 dots on the upper-right and tapped Edit Data.

I checked:

  • Precipitation
  • Temperature
  • Relative Humidity
  • Wind Speed
  • Wind Vectors
  • UV Index

And tapped OK.

The screen was still a confusing mess. I tapped the hamburger menu in the upper left-hand corner, and then Editor. I didn’t see anything there about simplifying things.

I left the app and tried adding the home screen widget. Although the graph was still mystifying, I was happy that I could cut it down to 2 days of mysterious colors rather than 10 days.

I tried Hamburger → Settings and looked through App Theme and Widget Theme. That didn’t help either. I saw little icons from the main screen under Units but no text descriptions. And, it’s been a while since my last physics class so it took a while to realize that “hPa” meant “hectopascals”. And then I had to think for a while to realize that the picture of a rising sun with a line meant “relative humidity”.

In desperation, I long-pressed the yellow graph and saw “Delete Graph”. The terrible ugly graph went away but left behind the weird red and blue graph. I tried long-pressing on the red and blue graph and then tapped Set Range. It showed a single unchecked “Temperature” checkbox so I was still confused.

After pressing “Add Graph”, I saw a list of phrases that are not related to weather:

  • Monkeys Wedding
  • Cricket Chirps
  • Sun Dogs
  • Starry Night
  • Sailors Delight

I guess it’s nice to know that the baffling yellow thing is a “Monkeys Wedding”.

I finally gave up and went to a NOAA website. I started trying to match their numbers with the Flowx numbers. Finally, after a lot of back and forth, I realized that the 3 numbers on the right of the “Monkeys Wedding” were wind, the red and blue numbers were temperature, the green line was wind, and the gray hump was meaningless.

Now that I had some understanding of the graph, I went back to Hamburger menu → Editor and saw a faded out entry for “Graphs” with a “PRO” button on the right side. When I tapped it, I saw an advertisement for the Pro version. Since Google takes a cut of all Google Play Store revenue, I started looking for the main Flowx website to buy the software directly. I couldn’t find a way.

I returned to the Pro Version screen in the application and saw “14 days Free Trial”. When I tapped the orange button to “BUY NOW” (even though it’s a “Free Trial”), Google said that I would have to pay money. The screen said “You won’t be charged if you cancel before Apr 15, 2021”, “We’ll send you a reminder 2 days before your trial ends”, and then it shows the last 4 digits of my credit card.

Below those ominous words, Google says “Billing starts at the end of your free trial”.

While I’m fairly certain that I will remember to cancel in time, those words of doom don’t make me feel any better after going through this unpleasant journey. I should cancel my trial right away but if I do that, I don’t know if I’ll be able to resume the “14 days Free Trial” later. Expecting Google to have an API for developers to update their “Free Trial” text to match the # of remaining days is probably asking for too much.

Thanks for reading this far. You probably already thought of a bunch of things to improve or change. My specific actionable comments in order of importance are:

  1. Don’t start in full-screen mode by default.
  2. Have a legend (even if you have to put it behind the hamburger menu or an “i” with a circle around it on the main screen
  3. Don’t make the Help fill the entire screen. Help should help people, not test their ability to remember information in their short-term memory as they switch between Help and the main application.
  4. Label “Select Graph” differently. When I long-press on a graph, I’ve already selected it.
  5. Change the “Select Graph” screen’s label to something else (e.g. “Themes” or “Styles”).
  6. Make it clearer that you have more metrics than whatever fits in the first screen-ful under “General”
  7. (if possible) Find a way to offer a free trial that doesn’t get contradicted by Google almost immediately.

Finally, a feature request.

You already built a great “Edit Widget” screen. Please provide a way to access that screen after I add the widget. I might’ve made a mistake during the initial setup process.

Incidentally, I know that the gray hump isn’t actually meaningless but someone else will have to tell me what measurement is. I’ve already spent at least an hour trying out the program and writing this post.

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Hi,

Thanks for the feedback.

Don’t take this the wrong way but I’ll start with an analogy. Imagine you know how to ride a bicycle and you come across a car. You get in it push a whole lot of buttons, turn things, pulled some levers, bought a spoiler and after an hour, you can’t understand why you haven’t won a race, let along start the car.

The two issues here is that you are unfamiliar with Flowx and you want everything to just work for you straight away. So in the first hour, you are jumping all over the place: graphs, edit data, graph ranges, editors, settings, add graphs, noaa website, pro version - you did nearly everything except “Help” :slight_smile:

So I have to ask - did you read the help? in particular Graphs.

Please, instead of rushing, take your time and enjoy Flowx. There is a lot to take in and you won’t learn it in an hour.


I would agree that Flowx has a learning curve. This is because it’s very different to your typical weather app. So it may be confusing but this is because you are unfamiliar. It’s definitely not a mess.

When you get into a car for the first time, it’s confusing, but it’s not a mess. Over time, you will learn and become familiar.

And this is why we have written a pretty comprehensive Help section.

Sure we could ease the new user into the app and I’ve tried to add a tutorial when you first open the app but it just didn’t work. Different people start using the app for many different reason and a tutorial might ease one type of user into Flowx but will completely miss the mark for another user.


If you use Flowx for a week or two - you don’t need to do complex things - you will find the “mess” has some logic. Most users like this logic.

Please take your time and enjoy the app. Don’t try and rush it. You’ll be learning new things in a week or two.

Regarding, “Edit Widget”, please read the help, especially the “Edit Widget” section in Help > Widgets page.

Regarding the gray hump, read Graphs help page - it’s pretty much in the first line.

If I haven’t made my point, please read the help - it’s nearly all there.

Cheers, Duane.

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Hi @Zian and welcome to the forum!

Wow what a comprehensive first post you’ve done! I do agree with several of the things you’ve pointed out. (And I’ll adress a few of them, but I’ll do so in new linked topics to keep the conversations neat and clean.)

I can also agree with the analogy that @duane wrote. Flowx is a complex “vehicle” for conveying plenty of information. It will take time to get use to it.

The most important take away from this dialog so far is that “The New User Experience” is limited by the fact that new users don’t read the help.

This is true!
Some minor things could be polished, and made more clear, but most things is in there.

This is also true, and I do believe that it is possible, without spending too much time and effort, to make the content from the help more accessible for new users.

The big questions are of course:

  • how to improve the “new user experience” without anoy old users (who tend to react strongly and mostly negative to almost all changes)
  • how the task of improveing the "new user experience"should be prioritized comparerd to all other tasks of developing and maintaining an app like Flow.

Thanks for taking my feedback so well. I agree that a complex application like Flowx will naturally have a learning curve.

I was trying to write something that didn’t stray too far from the “average-new-person-experience” so I didn’t mention much about Help except the short-term memory challenge. That’s also why I used those emotional words. I really did feel overwhelmed and stressed out.

In reality, I had read “What is Flowx” and “Tips” under “General” very early on. After reading those pages, I was convinced that the program had the features I wanted so I went back to the main screen.

Now that it’s been a little while (and you’ve replied)…

The Using Flowx → Basics page could be really helpful but due to limited screen real estate, the screenshot that ties everything together gets pushed below the fold. Since there’s no visible logic to the #s besides the first thing being #1 and the second thing being #2, my brain assumes that the #s aren’t that meaningful. Then, when I scroll down, my brain has recall 13 sentences from memory. (Potential solution: break the screenshot into little chunks so that the #1 section of the image right above the #1 text, a picture of the temperature bar and graphs is right above #2 and #3 text, etc.)

After reading Using Flowx → Graphs, I see that you’ve thought very hard about the graphs. If those same explanations were available from the Select Graph screen (not necessarily displayed by default), that would’ve gone a long way towards making me less confused (aka the usability principle of showing information where it is most relevant to the user’s actions).

I hope everyone can empathize with people who are encountering Flowx for the first time. There’s research that shows “[the] average [web]page visit lasts a little less than a minute” from the Nielsen Norman Group. If we assume an Android app gets 10 times more time, then the app has about 2 minutes to make a first impression.

For people who aren’t already familiar with the research on users & reading:

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This is a verry good point!

I had started to think about suggesting some sort of omnipresent “help-icon” (perhaps shaped as a question mark), that after taping one, one can tap on any section of the screen to get an explanation of that part of the app.

I was hesitant to suggest this, since it seams a bit of work, and could easily become an annoying cousin to the old “paiper clip” from Ms Word.

An easier approach, as you @Zian mentioned, would be to add links to the various sub-menus around the app, that would take you directly to the relevant part of the help.

Also I agree with:

Especially when showing a small part of the help in the context of the app. Then opening it in a less-than-full-screen window, and perhaps eaven with somewhat transparent background, would make the information-digestion less overwhelming for the short term memory.