How bad design cost me 30,000 naira 🤬!

Ehioze Godspower Ebiowei
3 min readNov 30, 2022

On the 27th of November 2022, I noticed that my MTN Hynet internet was not working. So as anyone would do, I checked my MTN app to check my data balance. I was surprised to see that it was showing that my data balance was 0MB/0MB, because I had just recharged 2 weeks ago and taken measures to reduce my data usage.

The last time I recharged from the app, it showed my data usage, but even with that, I have always had a hard time knowing how much data I have on my Hynet plan because of how the MTN label is written. I wish I had a screenshot to show you guys how it was written.

Seeing that I had no data again, I decided to buy airtime from my bank app and use it to buy data for my MTN Hynet. I kept on receiving an error saying that I could not purchase that particular plan for my number. I was confused and decided to call customer service for assistance.

The call operator checked my number, and even he was confused by what was happening. He stated that I was unable to purchase a new plan because I already had an active data plan. I told him that my current plan wasn’t working anymore and the app showed 0 MB remaining, and he said he would check my data balance.

Current MTN Design

When he checked, he discovered that I had only used 170 GB of the available 300 GB. I was pissed because I had just bought 30,000 Naira airtime to use to purchase data for nothing when my current plan expires on the 15th of December. I asked why they don’t just show the available balance on the app, and he then gave me a USSD code that I can use to check the balance. I told him it was just a long process when they could just show it on the app.

Because of this, I bought airtime for data I won’t need until December. It was a very painful experience, and I wanted to write an article to show how we should always include our users when making design decisions. As designers, we should also write our labels and micro-labels in simple languages so that users can understand them.

In this case, from the above image, just having “Data balance: 0 MB/0 MB” is very vague. It is vague because it doesn’t say anything to a user.

My redesign

I designed the above screen to show how I think the data balance screen should be in a way users can understand.

We have the text saying this is their current data balance; I removed the slash and used “of,” so users can easily understand what they have used and what is remaining.

The expiration date of each plan has been added so that users can see at a glance when their data plan will expire.

There’s a lot I would love to write about in the MTN app, but I think the information architecture could be better. Content is everywhere, and it’s hard to navigate the app; other users have complained about this also.

Maybe later I will do a full heuristic evaluation of the product, but for now I say bye-bye.