Biggest Controversies in the Product & Design Community – Refresh 2024

Many controversial topics in the product and design world split the community and spark passionate discussions.

We discussed a handful of these points at Refresh 2024 to see what everyone thought. Furthermore, we questioned our speakers about the elements or aspects of the product and design industries that are out of date and ought to be eliminated. They also gave some insights into future trends. 

Let’s get to it and see what people think!


We put up a designated wall at Refresh 2024 where participants got to vote on various controversial subjects, which included a debate between the following topics:

👾 Add a New Feature vs. Clean Your Backlog

👾 Desktop First vs. Mobile First

👾 Dark mode vs. Light mode

👾 User Feedback vs. Product Vision

The debate between dark vs. light mode was pretty even, and many chose to stay between the two of them on this matter. It was evident that most people thought that the importance of user feedback outweighs the product’s vision and that cleaning your backlog is more of a priority than adding a new feature. When deciding between mobile and desktop views, more people emphasized mobile first. We’re glad this wall sparked some discussion!


We talked with our speakers about the features or aspects of the product and design sectors that are outdated and should be wiped out. They also provided some insight into future trends. Here's what they thought!

👾 Andres Jaan Tack, Group Product Manager @ Glia, Inc

Andres expressed that product management and design should avoid fetishizing UX interviews for driving product decisions. In B2B products, strategic conviction is the top priority. After making decisions, research is necessary to ground them in research. If a feature is not sure if it solves a problem, it should be tested. However, if the focus is on making the product more user-friendly, pleasant to the eye, and marketable, it can be done after building and releasing it. He suggests learning to choose when to spend energy on UX interviews.

👾 Esko Lehtme, Product Owner of UX @ SEB Baltic

Esko emphasizes the importance of focusing on customers' actual needs, rather than relying on personal opinions or gut feelings, as this can lead to unmet customer needs.

👾 Kairi Loomet, Service Designer @ Loome Disain OÜ

Kairi expresses dissatisfaction with the long journey and excessive data collection, particularly personal information. She suggests a focus on speed, smoother UX, and a clear explanation of how the data is handled. Kairi suggests reducing data collection and requiring detailed information about its security. She also urges eliminating dead ends and ensuring a seamless user experience.

👾 Keerthi Shankar Sekar, Principal Group Product Manager @ Microsoft

The cross-platform UX is slow and inefficient due to not being optimized for each platform. Instead of focusing on extensibility and compatibility across all platforms, Keerthi recommends focusing on native work for more responsiveness. Optimizing for specific platforms and devices could help reduce CPU cycles and memory usage. The current approach is a mess of UX development.

👾 Maria Laanelepp, Program Manager @ The University of Tartu – Sandbox

Maria says that she would remove people’s opinions about product design and UX in general who don't care about it. There are a lot of people who have strong opinions but they actually don't care about good design or good products and they somehow degrade the value.

👾 Marko Klopets, Co-Founder & CEO @ Supersimple

He thinks that the trend of everybody trying to plop ChatGPT into their product, into every text field, needs to die. It's a simple and obvious thing to do, but it's not the most useful thing for products to be doing.

Instead, they need to be doing whatever solves their users’ pain directly. He suggests starting from that and using AI as just an enabling technology.  

👾 Rainer Loopere, CPO @ Esgrid

Product management is facing existential challenges due to AI tools and AI-driven responsibilities. Product managers should focus on their value and not just project management. They should focus on customers and their role in products. Supporting product managers is crucial, but many companies struggle with average or mediocre individuals. However, if individuals are curious, driven to grow, self-aware, and continuously improve, they are on the right track.

👾 Sandra Saarniit, Freelance Facilitator

Sandra thinks we should kill off all the pointless meetings with endless discussions and no documentation or concrete decisions, and instead have workshops!


Complicated pop-up windows with several inquiries and "No" and "Yes" buttons are viewed as a barrier to pleasant user experiences. Glitches continue to be a source of annoyance, compromising product functionality and reliability. Microtransactions, particularly in children's games, are receiving increasing criticism for their exploitative nature and influence on young users.

"Read more" buttons are considered unnecessary impediments to seamless access to content. Requiring credit card information for trial period access is viewed as a barrier, discouraging potential consumers from researching products. Subscription models are frequently greeted with criticism because of their perceived lack of flexibility and value proposition.

Non-functional buttons cause confusion and annoyance for consumers, ruining their overall experience. Excessive instructions in "how it works" demos are deemed unnecessary and detract from the product's intuitive appeal. Hidden means of support are perceived as deceitful, reducing user trust in products and services. Instant log-in prompts disrupt user flow and are considered an unnecessary intrusion.

Intrusive advertising is becoming increasingly undesirable, reducing user experience and encouraging ad-blocking behavior. Cookie permission pop-ups with options such as "Allow all," "Reject all," and "Manage selection" are perceived as tedious and contribute to consent fatigue among users.

At Refresh 2024, the product and design community engaged in lively debates and learned key ideas from industry experts. The thoughtful perspectives of our speakers and the intense discussions that took place during the event show how different methods of product development and design need to be reexamined.

Whether it's simplifying user experiences, focusing on true user demands, or streamlining processes, the sector is clearly in need of modernization. As we go through the changing environment, we need to consider these insights and adopt forward-thinking tactics to generate innovation and improve user experiences.

Thank you to everyone who participated at Refresh 2024 and added to the conversation!