5 Easy Ways To Screw Up Your Website’s User Experience & How To Avoid Them

User experience (UX) design might seem like an unnecessary expensive undertaking if you’re a small/medium business owner and a simple homepage/landing page is all you need. And I totally get it. 

Indeed, using a website template with minor customizations or a platform for building websites might be perfectly enough for your needs and there is no need to involve a user experience specialist in such a case. 

However, even when working on such small-scale websites, there are numerous ways to make design decisions (or adopt ready-made ones) that will raffle users’ feathers and force them to leave. And I bet this is the last thing you want them to do.

What are the most common user experience (UX) mistakes?

What are the common mistakes that can damage the user experience of your visitors and how to avoid them? Read further in this blog post ↓

Mistake #1: Designing the website look, before defining its content

Brainstorming on a website strategy, its information architecture, and content mapping, when there are more pressing business issues, sounds like a time-consuming and redundant thing to do. Instead, people often opt for browsing through website examples/templates and generating some content according to a chosen structure…

The latter approach, though, is fraught with idle information on a website and a loss of authenticity. Remember, website design is intended to support and shape your messaging. Not the other way around. 

Here is one common example. Sometimes (let’s face it) there might be not enough valuable content to put online. And it’s okay. A one-page website is a great solution in such cases. But without discovering content constraints at the beginning, companies adopt an expanded website template and end up waffling through its numerous subpages. As a result: more unnecessary work is done for a mediocre website with blurry communication in the end.

To avoid this situation, start from designing your content first. Understand what your users need and focus on providing that information. Then use this content as a foundation for generating design ideas that will wrap up your messages, help create a story, put priorities, and navigate users through different blocks of information.

Mistake #2: Text on the website is hard to read 

Even if you did your job well and prepared a killing copy for your website, it’s pointless if it’s painful to read it:

(One and only www.sindicatopide.org)

Poor text readability isn’t a problem of DIY websites solely. Big companies that seemingly have more resources go wrong with it too:

(Cluttered text on the webpage of Deloitte)

Even though Deloitte’s example isn’t that radical as the first one, it certainly has readability issues too. And no, it isn’t because the text is in German, as you might think. 

Just in one abstract, we have 4 different font sizes and line spacing, which are here to define hierarchy but fail to do so and perplex text scanning instead. The body text size is 14px. For comparison, websites that are made for reading (Medium, Forbes, Fortune Magazine, The Washington Post) go for 20px.

By changing the text size and spacing slightly, we can make it more pleasing for a human eye:

better readability
(The original webpage of Deloitte vs. the website of Deloitte after a few changes made via Web Inspector)

Are there any rules to follow to achieve good text readability? Sure, and here they are:

  • Typeface

Opt for a simple one. Sans-serif fonts are generally recommended for online reading.  Leave curvy fonts to wedding invitation cards. Avoid using too many fonts at once.

  • Text size and positioning

Don’t be afraid to use bigger typography. There is no golden standard here, but more and more websites go for 20px + to ease the reading process for their users, and here is a great explanation of why. Be generous about the spacing as well. Avoid fixed font sizes and let users resize text as needed.

Keep the line length between 50-75 characters. Make sure to use easy-to-digest paragraphs of 2-3 lines. Use subheaders, bullet lists, highlighted keywords to catch the readers’ eye. 

  • The contrast between text and background

There are certain guidelines for achieving sufficient contrast between text and background color. But unless you want to dive deep into color theory details, I recommend using tools like this to determine the right contrast for your website. 

  • White space

Leaving some space around text and titles improves comprehension, helps to increase readers’ attention, as well as makes your overall design light and fresh. 

  • Screen size and reading distance

Text legibility also depends on screen size and the distance from which users read. So make sure to test your website readability using different devices and considering normal reading distance for each of them. For example, test reading from the phone by holding it in your hand, whereas a Smart TV – by sitting a few meters away from it. 

Mistake #3: Creativity over clarity 

Many business owners want their website to stand out from the crowd, be unique, beautiful, and artistic. The bad news is that this approach hardly helps to please your audience unless you target artists or design connoisseurs.

(Creative web design approach was taken by MIT Center for Visual Studies. Also, the first website scrolling through which makes me literally nauseous)

Being creative is great. But when working on a website for your business, prioritize clarity and functionality over pure beautification. 

There are certain conventions and common standards developed on the web that users got used to. Like a menu with all primary navigation should be on the top. A logo in the top left corner should lead to a homepage, etc. 

Changing these practices creates additional work and headaches for users. If you decide to go in that direction and make your website look deviate from generally accepted norms, there should be a very good reason for it, as well as a truly professional design execution. 

If this is not your case, better express your creativity in communication and visuals instead of website structure.

Mistake #4: Slow website loading 

We are far behind the times of even minimum patience on the Internet. Noone tolerates waiting for the page to load. Slowness opposes user-friendliness. Google provides persuasive insights on how the conversion drops with every second of waiting time: 

mobile page speed
(Source: Google/SOASTA Research, 2017.)

Luckily fixing this problem isn’t rocket science. To keep your website load time under control: 

  • prefer flat design options
  • avoid using too many videos and other heavy multimedia
  • compress images (here is a free online tool for that) and files before putting them online
  • forget about Flash
  • check your hosting service provider’s performance
  • and if none of this works – invest in good developers.

Mistake #5: Ignoring mobile users needs

Mobile traffic grew rapidly during the last years and dominates over desktop usage (here is some data if you like). Many user experience designers advocate a mobile-first approach. And businesses who ignore these facts lose the lion’s share of their audience’s attention.

If you have doubts about whether your website is well optimized for mobile users, here you can do a quick check. Also, Google offers an easy mobile-friendly test.

To sum up…

The list of possible mistakes that are harmful to user experience is much longer, I just tried to explain the most fundamental and common ones. Hope this will serve as a good start for you. 

I cannot but finish with this incredible website design that just screams to all of us: “Never give up!”:

(Source: www.patimex.com)

Liked this article? Learn more here: UX Design: What Is It In There For Your Business?