Let’s be real: Embarrassment is a natural part of life; but when your embarrassment is over your website, odds are you’re not just going red in the face—you’re losing users, too. Taking the time to consider your user experience (UX) is important to creating a positive experience for your visitors, especially if you’re trying to convert them into customers through inbound marketing.
There’s some debate about the principles of UX, but for the most part, experts agree that it includes some interconnection of clarity, relevance, visual design, practical design, intuitiveness, and points of friction. When described like that, it’s no wonder so many experts in the UX field are nonetheless making embarrassing mistakes.
One key thing to note is that the UX includes the user interface (UI), but it is so much more than just that. Many mistake UX for user interface, which is how to get into trouble.
To help you spot where your UX has gone off the rails, here are some of the common embarrassing mistakes your web designers may be making and some methods to fix them.
Designing Just for You
It’s natural to run everything you do through your own personal experiences and lenses, but by doing so when designing a website, you run the risk of failing to attend to your audience’s needs. Remember, you (or your web designers) are the experts in the field—both in creating the website and building the company the website is for. What may seem obvious and explicit to you may be completely foreign and unknown to a visitor.
This is where ongoing research is your greatest ally. By conducting quantitative research, you can identify problem areas (where do users leave your site?) and with qualitative research, you can determine why they are leaving (in other words, what they were trying to do that they couldn’t). By prioritizing these issues, you can institute changes to your site to test hypotheses until you find a system that works for your users.
When designing your website, you must consider the expectation/reality gap. When your users visit your site, they’re trying to do something specific. When they engage with your design in a way that appears like it should provide the solution but doesn’t, you’re going to have frustrated users.For example, if you have a “Register Now!” box that looks like a button, but isn’t a button, visitors will not be taken where they want to go.
This is true for links that go to unexpected places or functions (such as a radial navigation) that are uncommon. By being clever with your design, you run the risk that users won’t get it.
Research is handy here, too. Get real users to use your site in front of you. Watch where they click and how they navigate the webpages. Do they hit walls because of your design? Do they become frustrated? Is there hesitation? Answer these questions, then design with clarity in mind and see what happens to your website’s bounce rate...
When you visit an ecommerce site, where do you look for the shopping cart? When you’re scrolling through a site on your phone and want to jump to the About Us page, where do you look? How do you expect menus to work?
It’s not just best practices that keep websites using similar styles—it’s defined prototypes. See, people come to expect things that are similar, such as a shopping cart, to act similarly. You may want to create the next best design by doing something totally different, but you’re sacrificing clarity to do it. You instantly make a design more complex by trying to create a new standard, and that is the enemy of quality UX.
Instead, you want to ensure your design’s functions are discoverable. This meansusers should be able to understand where to find information and how to quickly navigate your site. Again, to improve your site, look to research and testing; watch people use your site and build to their expectations.
Forgetting about Mobile
If your site isn’t mobile friendly, if it isn’t responsively designed, then you might as well packup shop and move on. These days, people are viewing your site from a variety of devices—desktops versus mobile phones versus tablets—and each UX is different! For many, their phones are their only point of contact with the internet.
What does your site look like on mobile? If users visit your website via smartphones, can they find information, click on links, and see clear photos?Fonts that lookgreat on your desktop display may be nearly invisible on the smaller screen of a smartphone.
How do you overcome the mobile mistakes? You guessed it—user testing! In this case, start in-house: test your site on different devices; your designers will be able to tell if the mobile version is impossible to use and start making fixes. Then, start testing with real users and watch for their pain points. The key to UX regarding different platforms is to optimize for each device separately. There is no onesizefits all.
When UX gets tied up too closely with the user interface, a lot of time is spent on perfecting the way your site looks, while losing track of how it performs. Make no mistake—people are more willing to forgive a simple or basic design if the site does exactly what they need it to do in an acceptable time.
How fast do your pages load across all devices? How many errors is the common user likely to experience during a visit? If the answer is more than “zero,” you need to wade into the code and find broken hyperlinks and whatever else is causing problems and fix them.
Performance, when done right, is invisible, which is why it’s hard to spot and often ignored. But with the right tools, it’s fairly easy to improve your website’s performance. Using your analytics, check for pages that have slow load times, and look for elements—such as files that are too large—that may be the culprits. Watch for common errors, too, and correct those (one of the easiest is fixing broken HTML links).
Always remember, your website is there to accomplish a goal. For you, this goal may be to generate revenue in some capacity. On the other hand, for users, the goal may be to make a purchase or find an answer to a question.
More bells and whistles are fun, but they often distract from the main goal. Learn to make smart cuts and keep your website focused on the task at hand.
These are just some of the mistakes your web designers may be making if they’re not considering the total UX experience. Whether your website hasn’t been updated in years or you’re sporting the latest Squarespace template, it’s always a good idea to consider your UX and how it’s affecting your bottom line.
You may be surprised to learn which design choices are actually pushing visitors away, and how easy it is to correct them. And remember—the secret sauce to successful UX is research and real-life user testing.