Why does Atlassian struggle so much when creating a user friendly UI/UX?

Dan Casler October 2, 2018

I'm very curious why Atlassian, even after so many years, still produce user interfaces and experience that are complete and utter garbage? Are they simply that incompetent as a team?

This is not a troll post, it's a legitimate questions. Over the past 10 years, five of my businesses have used JIRA/Confluence, and although the UI/UX today is better today than it was back then, in my opinion, it's still one of the worst and poorly thought out UIs of any management system available today. My current business has 32 projects, all with custom configurations.

There are SO MANY inconsistencies everywhere. If you click the wrong option, you'll be taken from project settings to JIRA wide settings, with no intuitive way back, configuring workflows, issue types, screens, etc. is probably one of the most overly complex and poorly designed process/flows I've ever seen.

The left hand menu feels like some novice hacked it together. Every time you click something, the entire page reloads and moving around can becomes beyond frustrating as new windows are spawned and getting back to where you were is insane.

I could write a small paper on all the defects in the JIRA UI.

I really feel that Atlassian should fire their entire UI team and replace it with a competent team that understands UI/UX and can create an experience that is actually user friendly and quick to use.

1 answer

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JP _AC Bielefeld Leader_
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October 2, 2018

OK, Dan

Let's write that paper or offer alternatives with a better, cleaner UI/UX AND the same amount of flexibility and reusage of defined objects & templates. The UI is far from perfect & often not suitable for non-IT staff, but stilI I'm lacking alternatives...

Still seems a bit like a troll post as the question cannot be answered by the community. It seems to me that you would like to consult Atlassian on Jira UI/UX ;-)



Dan Casler October 3, 2018

@JP _AC Bielefeld Leader_,

First off, I did not state that I could write a small paper on alternatives, I said I could write a small paper on the overwhelming list of defects within the JIRA and confluence UI/UX. Defects that result in a poor user experience and an overly complex and convoluted process.

Lets be clear, I have no interest in consulting with Atlassian on any of their products.

I was hoping that someone from the community might be able to offer an explanation why a company I've spent many thousands of dollars with over the last decade, still cannot produce a quality user experience in over a decade?


Sebastian Beyer
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June 14, 2022

@JP _AC Bielefeld Leader_ 

I think this gentleman @Dan Casler) has brouht up a very fair question, actually.

Like Micheal Planck likes this
Micheal Planck November 26, 2023

Here's an example of one of the many, many, many issues with Atlassian.


In Confluence Cloud, to add a label to a homepage, you click on the three dot menu and select "Change labels." These labels cannot have capital letters.

On any other page, you cannot find "Change labels" under the three dot menu; instead, you click on a button at the bottom of the page to add a label (or, if you mis-click, remove one). These labels can have capital letters.

One action (add a label) = two entirely separate methods that are dependent on a context invisible to the user. And they have different constraints!

How is this not rank incompetence? How does Atlassian pretend they understand ergonomics, or workflow, or user experience, or UI design, or process, or common sense? How are we supposed to let these people organize our workflow?

And the fact that they have not fixed this issue shows that they don't consider it important. There is, after all, a way to add labels to pages; simply memorize every context-dependant hack and you're all set!

This reveals either a staggering level of contempt for their customers, or even an more shocking failure to understand what a customer even is. It's like all of this is some codathon hack contest, with high school kids tossing in whatever they think is neat and could get to work in an afternoon.

Except we're paying for it. And, as a poster noted, there are no better alternatives!

Micheal Planck November 26, 2023

Edit: sorry, I just realized that while you can create capital letter labels in the search box for "search page by label," you cannot in fact apply them to any pages, and they are functionally the same as their non-capitalized versions.

So this is less stupid than I thought it was; but still in keeping with Atlassian's refusal to re-use code. Whatever code checks for the legitimacy of a label is applied in one place where labels are defined, but not in others.

I swear it's like they don't know how to write a function.


George G May 2, 2024

6 years later and the UX is still deplorable

Sean Blezard May 8, 2024

Atlassian has gone very wide but not deep on features and the UX. Look at the announcements at the Team 24 event this year: massive moves and great headlines.

Then consider that everything in Jira is still called an "Issue" because that was the lizard brain origin story of Jira as a tool... this one bit of nomenclature introduces cognitive friction in virtually everyone who comes fresh to the platform.

Don't get me started on how they never incorporated the essential JQL extensions provided by marketplace apps like Script Runner. This is a problem because the cloud architecture doesnt' allow SR to do what it did on premises, so they have to hack a weird sync between their app and Jira now. The list goes on.

Then, look at their new Confluence mini-products: Database and Whiteboard.

Whiteboard has the potential to be an amazing and cheap alternative to Miro and Mural. It really does. But then try uploading/pasting a transparent PNG image onto the board... it gets a solid colour background. Really?

Databases is a good clone of Air table except it now offers ANOTHER way to create and manage work in workflows and, if you link to a Jira issue from a row in a table, there is no reciprocal back-link in the Jira issue (like we get with Confluence pages).

Atlassian's momentum is perhaps unstoppable, and the breadth of their product offering is amazing but no one part feels polished and beautiful.

Micheal Planck May 8, 2024

Or how about this one: you can create placeholder text, that is invisible until you edit the page. This is great for adding instructions to forms. However, you can only create placeholder text when editing a template, not just any page.

But you can copy your placeholder text from the template and paste it to your page, and it works just fine.

So Atlassian supports the feature in the editor. They did extra work to support the feature only on some pages, instead of just adding it as a macro and letting us decide when to use it. Because Atlassian thinks you can only ever create a page from a template. But you can't create multiple pages from templates, so if you want to lay out a whole site with a pre-approved structure, you have to copy an ordinary (non-template) site. And to put your placeholder text into that, you have to edit a template, create the placeholder, and copy it over.

Keep in mind: they did extra work to make you do this. Because they only want you to work their way. But then, their way doesn't work. So you use their tools to work around it, and discover they have crippled their tools to force you to work only in their non-actually working process.

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