If crafting the perfect user experience was easy, everyone would be doing it. Software, apps, and websites would all be immediately intuitive, hyper-efficient, and graphical works of art. If mastering UX was easy, every user everywhere would be delighted with every digital tool they interacted with. What a world it would be.
Here in the real world, UX missteps happen by the second. Achieving the ideal user experience is an iterative process; no one gets it perfect the first time.
Often, in order to succeed, we must first fail. We need to learn what not to do before we make progress towards the end goal: a User Experience that is frictionless, attractive, and repeatedly successful.
The good news is that some of the most common UX pitfalls can be easily avoided from the jump. When you understand why some fundamental UX best practices became best practices in the first place, you gain an edge over those starting from ground zero.
At Orogamis, we believe that UX knowledge translates into success. And, in part one of our two-part series on UX blunders to avoid, we’re serving up seven of the most glaring UX gaffes so you don’t fall prey to rookie mistakes.
It’s a fickle friend. On the one hand, an expertly conceived popup can drive conversion rates to the moon—one study from Sumo.com found that popups can yield up to a 50.2% conversion rate (although 9.28% remained the average for the best of the best among them).
However, on the other hand, popups can be a plague that scares off users before they even get a chance to digest your brand message.
The takeaway when it comes using popups is this: be patient. Give the user a wide berth of time to consume some on-page content before disrupting their experience with a popup. How much time? The answer will vary from page to page. The rule, though, is to not immediately attempt to arrest the users attention before they even know what they’re reading.
Secondly, tie popups to user action. Execute the popup at a time when the user is making a navigation choice or clicking somewhere (exit popups with special offers work wonders for many websites). This is striking while the iron is hot, and your user will appreciate your respect for their freedom of choice.
Lastly, if you are going to launch a pop-up after a set time interval, don’t blur the content behind it. This is a classic UX faux paux, and it’s destined to net you a lower conversion rate.
Let’s talk about 404 pages. You’ve undoubtedly seen plenty of them in your own navigation of the internet, and you might even know a thing or two about how to design one for your own website.
Error pages, ‘page not found’ pages, and other internet dead ends don’t have to be so...terminal. They’re actually opportunities to further your branding efforts. This can be done a couple of ways:
The golden rule about 404 pages is simply to make them your own. Don’t settle for a cookie cutter error page that leaves the user feeling helpless and abandoned.
When a user takes an action while using your website, app, or software, think of it as a request for attention (even if it really isn’t). Your user wants to be acknowledged for what they just did.
So, acknowledge them.
There’s a dialog opportunity here. And, while it might not be feasible for you to personally engage with every user when they request something, sign up for a content offer, or opt-in to a newsletter, you can capitalize on the chance to start a conversation with an automated confirmation email.
When doing this, keep these principles in mind:
Above all, don’t not do anything after a user takes action on your site or while using your app. This is your time to shine; do it with a smart confirmation email that hits the mark.
Have you ever been prematurely begged for feedback by a website or app? It’s not a pleasant experience. In fact, it’s needy and off-putting.
When a user is solicited for feedback before they even have a chance to develop an opinion about your app, website, or software, they tend to flatly ignore the request altogether. And, can you blame them? They have nothing to say yet. They may not even know what they’re reading or interacting with.
If you want to obtain sound feedback from your users, make sure you ask for it after they’ve had ample opportunity to have a full-featured experience, first.
There is no ‘perfect’ amount of time to wait before asking for user feedback, but a solid few days is advisable for most apps or software. For websites, it’s acceptable to ask for feedback after a key communication has taken place (for example, after a live chat session).
Need some ideas for what feedback questions to ask? Here are a few great ones to choose from.
This all-too-common UX mistake is a bit of a sleeper. Often, it’s not even identified as a mistake until a massive swath of market share has been scooped up by the competition, leaving website, app, or software designers scratching their heads and asking, “Why?”.
When you design a digital asset only for a very specific audience, you necessarily wall it off from everyone else. There is no need for such alienation, and instead, it’s better to take a more holistic, more inclusive approach.
Using complex terminology, esoteric verbiage, or industry-specific acronyms or shorthand is a great way to exclude your content from the ‘rest’ of the world.
Don’t give a user a reason to think they’re not keyed in enough to engage with you. Conversely, use universal language that can be understood by as many people as possible, and develop content for a broad, multi-faceted audience.
There are some exceptions to this. For example, a newsletter that will only be sent to patent attorneys is rightly going to contain patent law-specific vocabulary. But, even in these instances, it’s best to communicate as simply as possible while still getting your points across.
If there’s one thing users hate more than anything else, it’s having to endure the crucible of filling out super-long forms.
Inundating your users with a job application-esque form is a surefire way to turn them off from engaging with your brand. We already know that the average website user’s attention span is about eight seconds, which is why it can be painful for many of them to be forced into writing a novel’s worth of field inputs before proceeding with a website action.
If you absolutely must present a user with a long form, break it up into smaller sections, and deliver these sections on pages unto themselves. Also, consider including a progress indicator (for example, ‘step 2 of 4’) as the form is completed.
In 1995, Nintendo of America released the Virtual Boy, an odd-looking, tabletop gaming console that targeted video game enthusiasts. The idea was to use the appeal of virtual reality to convince consumers to cross over into an entirely new platform for enjoying their video gaming experience.
The assumption here was that, because virtual reality was such a hot topic among gamers, consumers wouldn’t care that the product was clunky, difficult to use, and a complete departure from Nintendo’s brand at the time.
The Virtual Boy would go on to become one of the biggest disasters in the history of product development. User testing was never incorporated into the design process, and the tragic downfall of what could have been a raucously successful product release wound up being an embarrassment for one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world.
The lesson here is to not rely strictly on user expectation assumptions during the development of a new product, app, software title, or feature. Invest in market research, focus groups, user feedback, and iterative concept revisions until the final result emerges naturally.
The greatest thing about history is that we can learn from it.
In the UX space, learning from the mistakes others have made is an endless source of wisdom for product developers, application engineers, and website designers. By applying the lessons learned from these mistakes, we get ever closer to achieving a unified understanding of how to build the most powerful, beautiful, and delightful digital solutions—solutions users will rave about.