It pretty much goes without saying that user experience is extremely important to keep in mind when you’re designing a website, creating web content, or running an online business. You want to communicate effectively and inspire your users to keep coming back. You aren’t going to be very successful at it if your UI leaves people lost, confused, or just plain annoyed.
Here are some of the most common, and most annoying, UX mistakes people make, and how you can avoid making them.
1. Having little to no restraint
Now, I’m not saying that you should avoid creative, awesome ideas that really push the envelope and set you apart from the competitors when you’re building a brand or a website.
Too often, though, people have a hard time editing down all of the ideas they come up with and it starts to become a mess.
Instead of one or two really powerful and useful design choices, they end up overloading the user with information. The last thing you want to do is make a customer confused or annoyed by your interface.
How to avoid this mistake: There is such thing as a good idea that’s bad for your website or content. Even if you have a really awesome image, layout, copy, widget, etc. that you personally love, you need to have the strength to leave it off it it’s not right for your website.
It’s like making a really clever joke, but you’re the only one who gets the reference. You might think it’s hilarious, but if no one else is going to get it you’re probably just going to make people think you’re weird.
Take a step back, pretend you’re a customer who is seeing the site for the first time, and ask yourself if it really does make sense. Would you know which text block to read first or which button to press to get to the next step if you didn’t already know what that next step is? Better yet, try to find someone who has no idea what you’re working on and can give an unbiased opinion.
Ask them to toggle through your site and ask them to point out spots that are confusing, counter intuitive, or that aren’t adding anything positive to the experience.
2. Not knowing the difference between UX and UI
It’s something that gets confused a lot, and even though the abbreviations are really similar, UI and UX are not the same thing.
- User interface (UI) refers to the structure and look of the experience, as in how someone gets from point A to point B and what that all looks like.
- User experience (UX) is concerned with how the user feels and reacts to what’s in front of them.
The two are certainly related, if you have a confusing interface the user will probably just get frustrated and their experience is ruined (or the interface is seamless and intuitive, making for an easy, enjoyable experience), but the way you create good UI and good UX is usually pretty different.
How to avoid this mistake: You now understand the differences between the two, so when you’re talking about UX and UI you can be clear and concise about what you actually mean.
- Do you want them to make sure that the UI is straightforward? – i.e. by pressing this link or button it makes sense to direct to this page.
- Do you want the UX to be straightforward? – i.e. the copy needs to not only follow the brand’s style but also be a legible typeface, type size, color, etc.
You can also ensure success by starting with a strong and comprehensive site map (UI) before you even start to think about user interaction and design elements (UX). Make sure the flow of the website makes sense from the start and then keep referencing back to that map. Having a good balance between UX and UI and don’t focus on one or the other you’ll almost certainly come out the other end with a beautiful and usable site.
3. Annoying users with pop ups
You’ve probably gotten annoyed by this yourself. You click on an article you want to read and before you get even get through the first sentence the screen gets covered by a massive box asking you to create a sign in, subscribe to their newsletter, or follow them on Twitter. If that’s not bad enough, sometimes the button to close the pop up is so tiny you can’t even see it and instead of continuing to try to read the article you just close the tab and move on.
How to avoid this mistake: If you don’t like being bombarded by pop ups the moment you enter a website, your users probably don’t like it either.
There’s certainly value in asking people to subscribe to your newsletter or share your content on social media, and there are ways that you can do it gracefully and without making people mad at your site.
Here’s where some UI choices come up. Consider having that popup come up when a reader reaches the end of the page, or put that form for the email newsletter in the sidebar. If you are going to have a popup, use humble, funny, sincere language.
Something like, “we know these things are annoying, but we’d really love if you would sign up for your newsletter!” or, “thanks for reading, if you liked this maybe take the time to share it with your friends?”
4. Ignoring the data
You have so much data at your disposal, why not use it? A lot of times just a tiny change to your UI will completely change how people interact with it and the impact you leave on them. Even though it usually only takes a small tweak to see a big change, people won’t bother to try it because they think everything is fine the way it is, or they honestly don’t realize what a huge impact it could have.
How to avoid this mistake: Don’t be afraid to try and fail. Run tests on the site to see what people actually respond to or ask people to fill out surveys about what they like or don’t like about the UI and UX of your site.
There’s also a bunch of data already out there that you can use to your advantage. Like did you know that people spend 70% of their time looking at the left side of a screen and only 30% looking at the right side? Maybe that’s why people aren’t clicking on that banner– they aren’t even looking at it. It’s information like that which can make your site not only beautiful and functional, but make it actually effective in doing the job you want it to do.
5. Changing too much too often
I know, I just told you that it’s good to change things here and there, but sometimes people go way too far.
If you look at the data and you see that people are more likely to click a super creative call to action versus a simple, straightforward one (or maybe vice versa), then go ahead and make the change to using those creative CTAs. What you don’t want to do is constantly change your site’s design and interface just willy-nilly.
Tumblr is a good example of this. If you use the site at all you’ve probably been around when something’s changed, like a new feature is added removed or things are moved around for seemingly no reason. Well, Tumblr users are not shy about sharing how they feel and they’re almost always livid every time there’s a change to the site (and it happens a lot). Changing a site too often and seemingly for no reason will leave users feeling completely confused and annoyed by having to relearn how to navigate the site over and over again.
How to avoid this mistake: Make sure that if you’re going to make changes, you’re making them for the right reasons. Listen to people’s feedback and when in doubt, trust the data.
If you’ve read through this list and realized that you’re guilty of making one or more of these mistakes, don’t feel bad because you’re definitely not the only one.
UX is one of those things that’s always changing, by nature of it being so integrated with new technology and new discoveries. The cool part is that for all the ways UX changes, UX is changing the world around it just as much. Just look at how much dating has changed because of the experiences people have with the sites and apps that are out there. So don’t beat yourself up about making some “mistakes” here and there.
So long as you stay engaged with the ways UX changes and influences society you’ll always be ahead of the game.
What UX tips have helped you improve your website?