The Five Worst UX Mistakes Websites Make

From a design perspective, it’s easy to get caught up in internal squabbles (“No, no, THIS is the content that has to be front and center”) or distracted by tools or methods (“I say we use lean UX on this project”). When this happens, we often forget that at the end of it all waits a person who wasn’t in on all these decisions, and just wants to get the information they need, buy the product, or be entertained for five minutes while waiting for the train.

Read all about The Five Worst UX Mistakes Websites Make at UX Mag.

Tl;dr –

  • Paying too much attention to the Macro (eg. IA, layout, nav) and not enough to the Micro (buttons, interactions, UI elements).
  • Putting too much time into designing the homepage – and not enough on the other pages.
  • Relying too much on text, when audio, video and images can be much more persuasive.
  • Designing for the wrong generation.
  • Ignoring multi-screen behaviour (ie. taking a desktop-only approach)

Why people don’t like carousels and what to do about it.

I got totally Baader-Meinhoffed last week with the accordion thing. Felt like flavour of the month, the way everyone wouldn’t shut up about it.

Actually it was just me and my colleagues having a rant. 🙂

In short:

People don’t like carousels, don’t care what they say
and don’t bother after the first panel
.

…so, for the ux-inclined, it’s frustrating that we still use them the way we do.

[B]oy does that homepage look like a juicy piece of prime real estate to a roomful of stakeholders. It’s hard to navigate these mini turf wars, so tools like carousels are used as appeasers to keep everyone from beating the shit out of each other.

via Carousels @ brad frost web

This ain’t a cry for blood, though. Typically, a design fails because of a combination of things – the medium, content and audience are incompatible. In the case of the humble carousel, we get the perfect storm of disharmony.

The Medium

Suppose your amazing marketing message is 4th in line on a carousel that spends 2 seconds per banner. This means the user will spend at least 6 seconds on filler before they get to your gold. That’s a long time in internet years.

The modern website carousel is like a TV ad break, only your favourite show won’t be back after those messages. Is this really the best way get users to pay attention and engage?

The Content

The write-ups on Nielsen’s Alertbox on Carousels and WeedyGarden’s Carousel Statssuggest that content can be a huge factor in carousels performing poorly.

After all, e-books and real paper books behave in the same way, sequentially feeding the audience one piece of information at a time – and most of us know how hard it is to put down a good book. This highlights the importance of storytelling in this space, something we tend to miss in the mish-mash of unrelated banners on a rotation.

Brian Krogsgard’s Sliders Suck says it could be totally appropriate to use a carousel when using the carousel is the end goal, not the means to the end.

The Audience

When a slider item is active, it’s more important than everything else on the page. When a slider item is inactive, it’s completely unimportant.

via Slide Rules @ Bearded Blog

The implicit assumption of a carousel is that the item on display will be relevant to the person viewing the page. I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here, saying how one size does not fit all.

And we don’t have to look too deep into behavioural stuff (like banner blindness, tunnel vision and selective attention) or user agent stuff (like hardware capabilities, or compatibility with screen readers) to figure we might be slightly sub-optimal in catering for our users’ needs with sliding banners.

So, what do we do?

The tests say no to carousels, and you’ll find many, many voices in chorus about why. But sometimes we’ll have to use them, and sometimes we’ll actually want to use them – it’ll feel right, even though it seems wrong. We all have nights like this.

The problem isn’t in the doing, but in how it’s done. And we could be doing it less wrong.

Start this way:

  • Make the content more interesting. (source 1source 2Can’t stress this enough.
  • Limit the number of items in a carousel. (source)
  • Make the navigation obvious, so users can skip. (source)
  • Mind the interaction design stuff, don’t do the annoying crap. (source)

Thank you to @niaalist for sharing the links in this post.

What makes good information design?

This infographic is a couple years old now, but still holds true.

good_infodesign_550

Source

We’ve encountered lots of this theory (often without realising) through planning blog content, writing help articles, designing and building landing pages, fixing customer tools. The principles even apply to non-technology stuff – “meeting the parents”, for example. 😉

It’s quite all-encompassing.

Lovely Package

http://lovelypackage.com

Admittedly, this is a design blog, so expect to see lots of “just eyecandy” entries – but once in awhile, you find a few pieces that cleverly combine form and function (and recycle-ability).

lovely-package-job-hunting-club1-e1333171369648 lovely-package-mud1-e1338950472856 lovely-package-otilia-erdelyi1-e1343972180246 lovely-package-yonatan-sheinker5-e1330223062526 lovley-package-lockhart-tennessee-whiskey1

How to train your chicken

Chickens can be stubborn creatures. The good news is that, because they’re motivated by food, you can easily use food to train their behaviour.

via Clicker Training Chickens

Users can be pretty damn stubborn too. Can you think of ways we might use good design to train their behaviour?

Information vs. Experience

Most of us here are old enough to relate to this article about web information vs web experience from 11 years ago. Some things still stick I think, but we’re getting able to overcome some of the old hurdles.

Interactive TV, for example –

We have come a long way indeed.