You can’t wait to get your new product off the ground and out into the wide and open internet space! But beware: There are a number of UX mistakes out there waiting to rain on your parade. Remember that UX is more than just a neat design or catchy layout. Here are our top 10 UX pitfalls and how to avoid them.
#1 Poor content
Congrats, your site finally launched showing off an awesome new design! Unfortunately, while spending plenty of time planning out the exact structure and layout of your site, you forgot about the content. Remember that great UX is not just structure and design – content is still king and the reason why people come to your site. Make sure to sit down with your marketing and content team early on to develop a strategy for creating and maintaining effective and useful content for your target audience. Avoid undermining your UX by second-grade content or outdated content and keep in mind that content requires updates on a regular basis or you will risk boring and losing users. When redesigning a site, critically analyze its content, i.e. text elements, pictures, videos, to decide which elements have become obsolete or should be replaced with new information.
#2 Too much content
Just like content can be too old, there can be too much of it. While you may have a very specific vision for your site circling around in your head, keep in mind that internet users have incredibly short attention spans and don’t usually read all of your texts. The vast majority of visitors will leave your page straight away if they can’t find what they are looking for quickly. So, don’t swamp them with too many facts and figures and risk losing them to your competition. Critically evaluate which content really is relevant to your audience and prioritize important content. Consider visually highlighting the most important facts or main features to aid the user in digesting the content of your site. Avoid lengthy copy, for example by trying to cut word count in half. And of course, make sure that the information provieded are not only up to date, but precise, effective and useful. You know best what your target group is interested in, which language they speak and how you can trigger them best. So make sure that your site’s UX isn’t undermined by an information madness and turn your visitors in loyal customers!
#3 Ignoring platform specifics
You are looking to make your product available on different mobile platforms to make it truly “cross-platform”? Great idea: With an average of 3.3 hours spent on their smartphone each day, 85% of the people consider mobile devices an essential part of their everyday life. But remember that the big mobile platforms have not only similarities, but significant differences as well. So don’t sacrifice great UX by cutting corners and releasing the exact same version for all platforms. Make sure to understand and account for the specifics of each platform when going mobile with your product. There’s a fine line between being consistent across platforms and frustrating users with a UX that doesn’t fit in with what they are used to.
#4 Ignoring UI guidelines
Each of the big mobile platforms provides designers with very detailed guidelines, but since you are an absolute ace and about to revolutionize the market, you listen to your intuition to design what feels right. Don’t! Depending on the platform, users expect certain layouts, behaviors or navigation options in their apps. Avoid frustrating them or, even worse, losing them by ignoring UI guidelines. Stick with the recommendations and deviate only where it is absolutely necessary, for example because it serves a very specific purpose. Favor industry standards and best practices over individuality: Just remember how often you facepalmed due to hidden menus or buttons, unclear icons, blurry gestures or navigation paths and confusing visual effects. Reading and following the applicable human-interface guidelines – at least for the commonly used systems iOS and Android – should help you create a pleasing experience for your users.
#5 No prototyping
You have done your user research, have sketched down some ideas and perhaps even created some wireframes or a design comp and think you’re all set? But you’ve forgotten one vital step: You didn’t build a prototype! While static wireframes or mockups are a great way to flesh out some of the basics in terms of structure and design, they do not help you figure out if there are issues with the navigation flow of your product – and you know the devil’s in the details! To make sure that you have covered all major issues to tackle during the design process, you should build a real prototype as early as possible. This will allow you to uncover weak points of your product, like a poor navigation, missing native gestures or other problems and will show you any areas of your product that need animations, changes or other special attention that will require significant time during design and may have been overlooked during project scoping. Prototyping will also give you more confidence in judging and planning for sufficient design and implementation time. So, to avoid unpleasant surprises, better start prototyping now instead of jeopardizing your product’s well-being.
#6 Too much prototyping
Prototyping is a critical part of the design process, but with ever more powerful prototyping and wireframing tools at our hands, it’s easy to get tricked into creating all too elaborate prototypes and get lost in unnecessary details. Don’t waste time on pixel-perfect prototypes that will be thrown away anyway in the next iteration. Instead, focus on the important aspects of your product. Design the things that are controversial, not what is common sense. Instead of trying to preempt the visual design, spend time on developing alternative solutions to UX problems that you can test with users and then pick the best-performing option. Most of the time, you can gather great feedback with simple interactive prototypes that model the flow of your product. Remember that there’s a trade-off between time spent and the benefit of being able to get feedback early on in the design process using prototypes.
#7 No testing
What you gain on the swings, you lose on the roundabouts. You may save time by skipping the testing, but you may pay for it later with a suboptimal UX. Sure, you may not have endless time to test every teeny-weeny bit of your product, but without any feedback from real users you will never be able to understand fully how they will be using it, what the shortfalls and potential UX problems are or what your customers love about it. This means you will not be able to deliver the best UX or evolve your product to match exactly the needs of your users. Avoid this by planning for sufficient testing time during the design stages of your project and build in a functioning feedback loop. Also, make sure to test with real-world users in real-life settings, so you can detect problems related to environmental parameters such as operating system, browser, type of device or even the situation in which users are engaging with your product – the context of use. Often, just five people are enough to detect up to 85% of the problems. If in a crunch, you can also set up an in-team test or ask a few power users of your product for an in-depth interview. Testing really pays: The more issues you can solve before the release, the less time you will be wasting on fixing them later or winning back frustrated users.
#8 Ignoring feedback
We all don’t like getting our noses rubbed in the mess we’ve created. Dealing with criticism on one’s work can be difficult, but the solution is not to ignore the feedback because these are just some users’ opinions. Doing so means risking that your product’s UX will not be what it could. Instead, remember that every piece of feedback is like a little present – users are taking time to tell you how they think you could improve your product. Once, test results are in, better start the treatment immediately. Prioritize, which issues are critical and need immediate fixing. Sort out feedback that is related to strategic design decisions. But listen carefully: Are you possibly trying to solve the wrong problem? Or may you have picked the wrong target audience? Early feedback can give you insights beyond product design that may change your entire product strategy, since you may uncover new use cases or find that the ones you were adressing are irrelevant. Don’t waste this chance!
#9 Trying to be unique
Yes, your product is your baby! But you don’t need to be unique in your design. Trying to be too original can be a UX liability, especially when it comes at the expense of ignoring known user interface patterns just for the benefit of creating a unique UI. Doing so will likely pose a burden to your users as they will need to learn your UI in order to understand and cope with its unique behavior. Most of the time, using native UI elements and sticking to well-established patterns is the best way to go. Avoid burdening your users with novelty and instead focus on simple designs that make your branding stand out. This will also help you prevent users from leaving because they feel as if you didn’t care about them, which 68% of them tend to do.
#10 Lack of communication
More often than not you will be working in a team consisting of such diverse roles as product managers, designers, coders, marketing experts or business analysts. Each one brings a different point of view to the table, which can be difficult if each person believes they know best. This can quickly result in a war of opinions and put your project’s success at risk. Avoid becoming one of the 97% of websites that fail at UX by making time for communication at each stage of the design process. Try to facilitate discussions and make sure that goals are clearly communicated and accepted and that solutions derive from well-understood problems. Ideally, you have already established some UX principles or even developed a UX guide that can help steer discussions the right way or avoid lengthy arguments. It also helps to have clear team structures with clearly define roles and decision-making processes and regular meetings, perhaps even a communication guide. Also, think about involving different roles in user testing so they can whitness how users respond to certain design decisions and make room for informal communication, such as lunch-and-learns or hackathons to improve communication between team members. Learn from each other’s experience and focus on creating an amazing product!