5 Common UX Problems and How to Avoid Them
How many of us visit a website, and suddenly find ourselves thinking quietly: if only the designer of this website would change a few things around, the user experience would become so much better. UX is easy to ignore because so many want to compensate UX with personal preferences. Web designs stem from one idea to the next, from one inspiration to the other, and it’s easy to come across websites that clearly are benefiting from the ideas of others, but aren’t fulfilling the technicalities of making a design work.
As a designer, it is your job to follow UX standards and practices that ensure a smooth browsing experience. Like Steve Jobs said before, the design of a project is not how it looks, it’s how it works. Design experts warn that it’s easy to fall into misconceptions about UX design, so we will depict these misconceptions — problems — by taking a closer look at each. What kind of UX problems do we need to avoid?
1. Indefinite UI Elements
An unclear User Interface is as bad as having no order for the presented website whatsoever. UI reflects each of the elements that we portray within our website’s pages, with the problem arising when parts of our UI are telling users one thing, but doing something completely different.
Simple fix lies in our competence to build/design our website in a way that it is compatible with modern and older versions of web browsers, and without features that could influence the UX amongst common devices.
2. Grueling Forms
Filling in forms is an unavoidable part of web experience, logging into Facebook means we are submitting a login form, sending an email means that we are submitting an email form, the dynamic web is built around forms, and there should be no constraint when it comes to using a form to complete an action; which isn’t always the case.
For example, it is much easier to submit a comment to a website when you don’t have to enter your data in a form every time, than it is to fill out Name, Email, and Website Address each time. Of course, this kind of UX is very subtle, commenting platforms like Disqus and Livefyre have worked hard to find a solution for this, allowing a global comments account, and instant social login features.
Forms, of course, are an essential part of the web. We use forms to subscribe, to purchase, to contact, amongst hundreds of other actions, but what matters the most is that our forms are easy to navigate, and provide concise choices for completing an action. Users of your website will quickly retreat from a design that’s difficult to understand, or hard to work with. Filling out a form should be one of the most convenient UX aspects of your designs.
Contact forms in particular should emphasize the most important and required information, anything else should be tagged as “required” and “not-required”, here is a beautiful example of well-designed and UX oriented contact form:
and depending on the type of business you are running, you can pick which individual form choices are most important to you, in this example above — it’s the email and phone number, two solid communication methods. Emphasize the required fields with highlights or clearly understandable messages, organize your forms so that users can intuitively fill them out, and work on adding specific messages for errors, and hints on common errors.
The most popular forms builders online that you can get your hands on today are all relying on these core foundations for helping designers build sturdy, yet flexible online forms.
3. Inconsistency in Design
Far less of a problem now that majority of WordPress themes follow modern web standards, design inconsistency can be a major turn-off for anyone who is being exposed to it. For the sake of finding relevant information, the user might be okay with having to deal with design inconsistencies, but when it comes to long-term community aspects, people aren’t interested in broken designs to confuse and irritate them all the time.
If the majority of forum board titles are “16px” with “Joesfin Sans” font, why make the other titles be unique, or stand out in a certain way? It only confuses people and creates a duality between what is important to the designer, and what the user needs to focus on.
The easiest way to remain consistent in your design is to create a roadmap for each of the grids that you wish to design and eventually develop. Start by creating a simple list of all the individual features you want to have for your design, then categorize them by groups of functions that share similarities; this creates consistency. The last step is to choose a particular UI element that you will use for the unique group you have created. Creating elements one by one is a waste of productivity.
4. Carousel-style Content
In a world of Ad Blockers, and decreasing revenue generated per user, content sites are resorting to extreme measures to retain pageviews, time spent on page, and advertisement impressions. One of the most extreme measures of this kind has been the introduction of “carousel content” or “slideshow content” — an annoying way of presenting content to the user and requiring the user to go through each item in the post separately, by having to open a new page.
Forbes Magazine is one such good example of how media websites can capitalize on their trust levels to make users spend more time on content pages, when in fact there really is no valid argument as to why they should. The web was never intended to be read like a book, so why try and make it so. This will also be the easiest fix in our list, simply don’t use carousel/slideshow content presentations and your users will inevitably love you. Another good solution is to offer users to open all post items within a single page.
5. Cross-device support
With modern web design in full swing, creating interactive, dynamic and unique websites is becoming the passion of every front-end developer. But how far can we really stretch a design, before we realize that this particular design will only work with the latest version of Google Chrome? A common UX problem we find in web design is that developers forget about making functional versions of their designs for people who might be using unique smartphone devices, with older browser versions. Getting out of this problem of course, is not so straightforward.
Time needs to be invested in understanding how to position certain UI elements so that they work as good on an old BlackBerry as they will on a new iPhone. With the combination of modern HTML5 and CSS3, it’s possible to achieve a result that will please both desktop and smartphone device users.
Common UX Problems
Good design comes down to the experience that the user is having with it. As designers, we constantly find ourselves challenged by the logic behind certain problems, and the required understanding to develop solutions to these problems in efficient manner. Great designs are divided into layers, where each layer builds on top of another, but doesn’t directly interfere with the functionality, mobility, and extendability of the overall design we are building. With such a vast array of frameworks and design standards to work these days, common UX problems are becoming much less common.
Alex Ivanovs has worked with many high-profile campaigns that have revolved around web design and how to achieve the best possible results for a good website design that delivers on marketing goals. Alex can be found managing Colorlib, a famous WordPress theme platform.