July 24, 2014

Top four UX design sins

Written By Martin Sandhu

User experience (UX) is a critical element to any product, website or app. Regardless of how innovative or exciting that product is, poor user experience will turn users off. Products need to be fun and easy-to-use, particularly when there is so much distraction around.

It’s said over and over but in order to achieve great design that will appeal to users, developers need to step outside of the box. Looking upon a product with the eyes of the end user is by no means easy, but it’s essential in order to get it right – there is no doubt that you can be too close to a product to make objective decisions.

While UX design will vary from product to product, there are four things all developers should avoid.

Don’t over complicate it

If a user doesn’t understand what to do almost immediately, they’re unlikely to be a life-long fan. Long, complicated processes to perform a task or a system of different gestures to remember (think Wii) will leave users less than excited about your product and more than likely a little frustrated.

Try to allow tasks to be accomplished in as few simple steps as possible; sometimes the ‘all singing, all dancing’ approach just isn’t necessary.

What’s with all the questions?

Whilst there are times when questioning user behaviour is necessary, “Are you sure you want to delete that?” for example, constantly questioning it is not good for user adoption.

It is not just questions that get frustrating though, it’s easy to over do user prompts in general. Tell users how to do things and what things mean once and once only, then provide FAQs or a help section where they can find the answer again.

Required fields are the enemy

Asking users for information which is not needed in order to use your product or make a purchase is likely to stop them in their tracks. Users understand that some information is mandatory, but when they you’re asking for their postal address in order to use an app for example, they will quickly be put off.

If you genuinely require a lot of information, add reassurance in the form of a prompt or help button to explain why you need it and how it will be used.

Consider external factors

Where you test your product or app is actually as important as how you test it. The way it is used will vary greatly from environment to environment and it’s important to consider all factors in the UX design. Use in a quiet, calm place with a strong wi-fi connection may be straight-forward, but what happens if the user is distracted by a text, locks the phone to get off the tube or loses signal whilst performing a task?

User experience is essential to the success of a product or app, but it’s design can be tricky when you’re so close to it, stepping outside of the box, ensuring adequate testing and taking on feedback is fundamental in getting it right.