User Experience (UX) is the journey customers go through on your site from the beginning (entering the landing page) to end (exiting satisfied that they have completed their task). Good website design makes this route easy and simple but where users get stuck or lost can be defined as a UX mistake.
As a web designer, digital marketer, or business owner, you may appreciate some animation here, image gallery there, or extended navigation on an overly designed site, however, it’s vital to remember that often you’re not the target audience. From a user perspective, most will not notice amazing web design, even if you’ve spent hours and days on your text, layout, colour pallet etc. Users come to the web for informational or transactional purposes and the task of a web designer is to make this process as easy as possible for those people. It is important to be realistic when designing your website as it can be said that a simple but functional site is better than a beautiful website that isn’t practical.
Ultimately, you’re looking to build a website that helps visitors achieve their goals (buy an item, learn the thing), create an engaging experience, and increase conversions. While these seem quite realistic objectives but you’d be surprised how easily you’ll get sidetracked into over-designing and then common UX mistakes seep into your site. Here we’ll cover the frequent errors that could cause your website to confuse users, raise your bounce rate, and finally cause you to lose business.
This is the biggest mistake anyone can make and can be applied to all our points so we’re putting it up top. One of the easiest pitfalls designers or business owners often walk into is to create a web layout for themselves. Once you’ve self-tested your own creation multiple times, you’ll become very familiar with the functionality, especially if it suits your style of browsing or shopping. Unfortunately, this may not be the same for everyone who might use the site because although you’re aware that there are click-through links on your images or you know exactly what your text says against a mismatched background, others might not.
When you’ve finished parts or all of your initial site layout and design, ask others to test how a user would navigate and operate what you’ve made. Don’t be afraid to take constructive criticism during the process, the changes you’ll make following any issues found (such as the ones we’ll mention below) will pay dividends down the line. Launching a functioning website will be much more beneficial than starting with one that’s difficult to use and altering it later on.
Now we’ll get into the specifics of common UX mistakes that can be found on the web. Written content is king in digital circles with more text being written a day than ever could be read in a lifetime. Indeed, if you’re lucky or skilled enough to get your targeted content or page to your potential audience, you’ll want them to be able to read it. Light and/or thin fonts are very trendy at the moment for the elegant, clean look however can be challenging to read particularly against a light background. The principle mantra to consider with the font is legibility is mandatory, not optional when choosing your style.
When testing your fonts on a web page, be sure to use a range of different devices including desktops, tablets, smartphones, and laptops for readability. A designer may be blessed with a high-end monitor that shows a slender type nicely in a dark room however in a real-life setting, it may be a different story like on a smartphone in daylight. Since users will not always have perfect conditions for reading it’s important to consider font size, weight, and colour for legibility, even adapting for mobile users by applying a thicker font.
This functionality often included by developers is a choice to allow websites to control how a user scrolls down a web page. Designers often love this function as it allows you to automatically move users to your desired content or to run animations instead of moving on. Unfortunately, while it may look appealing on occasion, in practical terms it can be one of the most frustrating trends on the web today. From a UX perspective, scroll hijacking takes away from one of the fundamentals that a user takes for granted, being able to navigate the site at their own pace.
Since traditional scrolling is universal that anything else feels alien to a user so it can be easiest to say avoid scroll hijacking altogether. If your aim is to present a high design site, focusing on slick features feel free to include it in however for all other functioning websites it’s best to do without.
Fixed or sticky headers are also becoming featured more on sites in 2020. This is where the navigation menu or branding block has a fixed position and often takes up a significant chunk of the screen. When scrolling, fixed headers will be glued to the top of the browser and can block a lot of the content while moving down the page. There are benefits to having this feature including easier navigation from wherever you are on the page as well as extra branding throughout the page.
When you’re trying to increase your pages visited per session or the connectedness of your site, it’s very easy to go overboard with the header design. A fixed header that can be considered too big will be distracting for users and cause them to miss a large part of your content. A clear example is a header on ATP’s player profile which takes up a fair portion of the screen with 3 levels of information and the effect is compounded on mobile where screen space is precious. This feature is more contentious for the benefits it holds but the key will be to find the right balance in header size. Test your header sizes with subjects to find the size that’s right for your site.
A carousel can be a useful addition to your website. A slide show that rotates your highlighted content or images are very popular at the moment and often showcased on the homepage. Using the feature can be an opportunity to increase the amount of above the fold content but on the other hand, the list of negatives usually outweighs this positive. Users can think a frequently moving image could be an advert so will ignore it, vital information could be missed if not shown when a user visits or if they don’t click through.
When done correctly, the carousel can be a very effective way to exhibit your dazzling pictures however practically they offer little to the user experience if your content can be missed. Try to avoid using carousels on too many key pages and use different areas of your site to showcase the content you want. If you or the client insist on using a carousel then be sure to make your directional buttons clear without taking up the whole image, then it would be more likely that users will discover your content.
There are certainly some big UX mistakes that can be made in addition to the ones listed here. The big take away should be to always test your designs several times before submitting them to the final cut. Avoiding scroll hijacking and difficult to read fonts are clear but carousels and fixed headers can be argued for inclusion if done well. Ultimately, when deciding on your features, ask yourself, do they have at least 3 benefits and no drawbacks? If your only bonus is cosmetic then you can safely leave it out.
If you’re looking to improve your digital impact or visibility for your business, contact one of our friendly website experts at HROC today!