I’ve previously written on multiple occasions about the many benefits of UX and UI design, and their obvious value to any business working on major projects such as websites or apps.
As with any skill, there’s a learning curve to UX and UI design. It’s easy to make mistakes in the early days. That’s why we’ve put together this guide on the most common errors businesses make on design project.
Designing the Product for Yourself
There’s a reason this is the first point on our list. Unfortunately, it’s a trap that inexperienced designers fall into every week: assuming that, because you find something intuitive and easy-to-use, your users will too.
It’s absolutely essential to get external validation from users in your market, which is why usability testing is such a vital tool in UX design. Trust us: You might love your design and your customer might love your design, but there’s no guarantee your potential audience will.
External testing shouldn’t be negotiable, and nor should conversion testing. You need to KNOW that your design will fly when it’s released into the real world.
Trying to be too Clever
This follows on from the above point. Designers are, at heart, creative, and their drive to do creative things is natural.
The trouble is that a good design should be clear and simple, and a clear design isn’t always the most creatively fulfilling one. You might have pulled off a stunning new method of navigation that looks great and hasn’t been done before, but that doesn’t mean users will like it. (Or indeed, even understand it.)
If you need to make a choice between a ‘cool’ design and a simple one, always pick the latter. It might not win awards, but you’ll do what really matters: retain customers.
Not Demonstrating Value
Your design’s priority should be to immediately demonstrate to the user exactly how the project will benefit them. What exactly are they going to get out of using your products or services?
Of course, your marketing materials should do some of the heavy lifting here, but the design really matters, too.
Your worst-case scenario is a user loading your app or site up, exploring it for thirty seconds and deciding it’s basically useless; that they’ll get no real benefit from it, and that your company has nothing to offer them.
Once they decide this, it’s likely they’ll never consider you again.
An effective user experience should take the user on a journey from unaware into a genuine prospect, and it should do so quickly. Remember, modern users are seriously impatient!
Focusing on Visuals, Rather Than Performance
It’s no secret that as people, we’re pretty shallow, and the lizard part of our brain will nearly always go with the most visually appealing option.
However, design should never come at the cost of performance. Absolutely come up with a great-looking UI, but if you’re confronted with a choice between something that looks good and something that works, choose the latter.
For instance, it might be you want to add a .gif or video to loop in the background of your website. After all, it’ll grab the attention a bit more. Right?
But what if the video impacts your site’s load time? What if it affects stability? The Tesla website is one of the best I’ve seen in a while, however the banner video consistently takes longer than 5-7 seconds to load. This begs the question on if a static image would have worked better.
In my opinion, that means it’s just not worth it. You’ll definitely gain users with a great aesthetic, but you’ll only keep them by giving them a good experience.
Offering the Unexpected
This is another major error, and again it arises from a lack of research and testing. (As do most of the points on this list.)
If there’s one thing that’s sure to drive your users mad, it’s a button or feature that doesn’t do what the user expects it to do.
There are a number of potential examples of this:
- A landing page presented to look like the frame of a video, complete with a play button and time bar – none of which are clickable
- A call-to-action button that doesn’t do anything when clicked
- Images that link somewhere without telling you
- Videos that auto play at full volume, without users requesting it (I hate this!)
And so on. The key to this is to remember that despite their differences, users tend to expect features to behave in a particular way. Break any of these traditions, and you’ll annoy people, guaranteed.
A good real-world comparison is a ‘Norman Door’ – that is, a door that’s designed in a way which tells you to pull when it’s a push door, or vice versa. Unexpected UX design is the equivalent of a door with a big pull handle that you have to push. There are few things in the world more annoying! Don’t create a Norman Door.
Not Being Brutal When Considering Features
As we’ve mentioned above, the biggest enemy to good user experience is complexity. Too many features, pages jammed with options, massive menus…you get the idea.
Any good UX designer must be prepared to be merciless when it comes to cutting features.
The chances are that if you’re struggling to introduce a feature into the rest of your design without making it harder to use, that feature probably isn’t worth the bother.
Remember, it’s better to do four things brilliantly than eight things badly!
Not Treating Mobile Behavior as a Separate Thing
In 2017, we’ve reached the stage where mobile traffic now outweighs desktop. More mobile devices access the web than PCs or Macs.
One major error UX designers often make is assuming that people browse in the same way on both types of devices. Let me be clear here: they don’t. It’s a completely different experience with different behavior.
(In fact, responsive web design was partially introduced in order to allow websites to offer an experience ideal for every platform.)
It’s vital to ensure that your design is cross-tested, to make sure it works on every device. However, this isn’t just a test of functionality: it’s vital that you carry out thorough – and separate – user testing on every platform.
You’ll want separate research, separate testing, separate priorities and so forth. Obviously you’ll need to keep the same branding, but other than that you want to optimize each experience for the people who’re going to be using it.
The last thing you want is a design that performs superbly on desktops, but gets ignored by mobile users.
Overdoing How Much Information You Ask For
This is a problem that comes up again and again, and until we stop seeing people doing it, we won’t stop talking about it!
People have short attention spans and tend to be lazy – and that goes double for people online. One of the worst things you can do when trying to improve conversions is to ask for loads of information.
Let’s say the aim of your page (or app) is to have someone sign up to your e-mail list. So, they click through expecting to be asked what their e-mail address is. Instead, they’re asked for their e-mail address, their name, their phone number, their occupation, their date of birth and so on.
What do you think happens to most people when confronted with this? That’s right: they leave. Never to be seen from again.
Never ask users to give you a load of information you don’t really need. Some users won’t do it because they can’t be bothered, and others will be suspicious of why you’re even asking.
When it comes to information requests, ask for the bare minimum.
The only exception here is, of course, an e-commerce transaction. In this case asking for relevant information is obviously necessary!
Integrating UX Too Late
If you’re going to focus on UX techniques in your design, you need to do so at the beginning of the project.
Why? Because UX design will inform everything else. It will impact the colors, the layout, the functionality, which features you include and so on.
If you leave the user experience research until later, you’ll inevitably have to waste time and effort making multiple changes. In some projects, you may even need to completely overhaul the work done so far, making the hours spent on the project up to that point meaningless.
By prioritizing user experience, you’ll save your company time, money and effort – and you’ll end up with happier users at the end of it.
There’s nothing better than getting things pretty much right first time!
This is more of a direct design tip, but make no mistake: it’s very relevant to user experience.
Why? Because low contrast designs are harder to navigate. If a user needs to squint (or zoom in) just to see what your menu says, they’re going to get annoyed and go somewhere else.
This goes double for mobile screens, which are already much smaller and harder to read!
This tends to occur more often in situations where the designer is trying to be elegant or sophisticated. Why? Because sophisticated designs tend to use thinner, narrower features (the minimalist movement): the sort of features that can easily get lost in a scheme containing too many similar colours.
If in doubt, contrast is the way to go. UX design tools can help make the selection process easier if you’re stuck.
Making Assumptions and Copying the Market
We’re going to finish with this, simply because it sums up the general theme of UX and UI design as a whole: by all means use advice and tips from other designers, and take inspiration from other projects.
However, you shouldn’t follow so-called ‘rules’ of design without conducting research first. Don’t make presumptions on what your audience will want or need. Know what they want or need.
It can be tempting to look at the style adopted by your competitors and to assume that – if they’re all using it – it’s going to be more effective.
By doing this, you’re no longer focusing on giving your users the best possible experience: you’re taking shortcuts.
If you do the work of proper market research, there’s a chance you’ll hit on a design that’s better than your competitors (many of whom are probably just copying each other!) and will give your project the chance to dominate the market, rather than just take a share in it.
Again, there is an exception to this. If your market has ONE outlier – a company that’s far out-stripping everyone else – then you should definitely look at what they’re doing differently and consider mimicking their approach.
Remember, we’re always ready to help you on your next design project. Our UI/UX team is one of the best in the industry and we’re specialists in getting genuine results for our clients. We’d love to do the same for you.