5 common user experience pitfalls and how to avoid them

By | March 31, 2014

Regardless of how much work you and your development team put in behind the scenes, the success of your website or mobile apps ultimately boils down to user experience. A solid user interface can often make or break a company, so make sure you’re avoiding these five common user experience (UX) pitfalls.

1. Too much information on one screen

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As a company, you want to make sure that your website or app conveys as much information as possible. In doing so there is the temptation to cram too much content onto a page. Take the screenshot above from the British Airways Executive Club member page for example. The screen is ‘organized’ into so many blocks of text that it’s difficult to determine what the main focus on the page is.

How to avoid:

– Identify a clear focus for each screen or page and stick with it.
– Remember, you don’t have to rely solely on text to relay information to your users. Increasingly, innovative companies are utilizing images, infographics, videos and audio to communicate ideas while still maintaining a clean and readable user interface.

 

2. Poor Navigation

We’ve all been to websites where we look around, click on a few pages, then suddenly find ourselves lost. This usually happens as a direct result of a poorly designed navigation menu, like the example shown below from Healthcare.gov. The site offers up a menu that reads more like a FAQ page.

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How to avoid:

– Put yourself in the user’s shoes. Think about the primary reasons for why they are accessing your site or app, and layout navigation options accordingly.

3. UX as an afterthought

Attempting to mold a user interface around existing functionality adversely affects the end user experience. A user interface is not a means to an end. When carefully thought out, it can help to entice, engage, and retain users. The screenshot below, taken from the homepage of a major bank, is an example of a site where the UX was clearly an afterthought. The page does not dynamically adjust to fit different screen resolutions, the menu is small and scattered, and the overall organization of the page is very poor.

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How to avoid:

– Start thinking about the UX from day one; incorporate the user interface design from the initial planning phase onwards.

 

4. Lazy copywriting

4_ba_2 Poorly written or translated text damages brand credibility and is so easily remedied that there simply isn’t any excuse for it. Bad copy comes in many different flavors: poorly translated or untranslated text (e.g. multilingual sites that have error messages in only one language), ambiguous form fields and error messages, and copy that contains poor or awkward grammar.

How to avoid:

– Words are powerful: employ writers or other qualified individuals to create copy. Don’t rely on developers to come up with their own text.

– Use natural language to create a narrative that supports your brand.

– Proofread, proofread, proofread. Typos and grammar errors scream unprofessionalism.

 

5. Designing for the wrong demographic

With so much focus these days on Millennials it can be easy to forget that internet users span a very wide age range. According to a 2014 Pew survey, an incredible 88% of Americans aged 50-64 use the internet. If your audience skews older, simple changes like increasing font size, adding color-coding, and using call-to-action buttons can go a long way in optimizing the UX. The e-commerce site below is an example of a user-interface that is likely to cause problems with older, less internet savvy users. Notice that the page uses relatively small font and there is a lack of color coding or color contrast.

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How to avoid:
– Identify your user base and design an interface to suit their needs.
– When in doubt keep things simple, especially when it comes to forms.

Category: Mobile and video games trends Web and software development

About Cheylene Thongkham

Cheylene Thongkham is a London-based technical writer and experienced software tester. She earned her bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2007 and an ISTQB certification in 2010. After working as a web application tester in the US, Cheylene assumed the role of Senior QA Analyst at a FTSE 250 company in London where she oversaw testing for mobile websites, business intelligence, and Oracle databases. She is currently working towards becoming an Oracle Certified Professional.