With more and more consumers solely using digital media to seek out media and products, effective UI/UX design is more important than ever. Whether you are working with a website redesign or a detailed interactive web app, visitors will make flash judgments of your work depending on how easy it is to find what they are looking for and whether an emotional connection is made with the content. Here are 7 of the biggest UX blunders that will kill your conversion rate.
1. Designing without Purpose
To quote famous American designer Charles Eames “Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose”
Almost every designer can think of a time they encountered a beautifully crafted website built with extensive eye-catching graphics and cleverly subtle animations that ultimately failed to generate leads. This may have been for many reasons. Perhaps the graphics were not relevant to the content, the site lacked a clear path to action, or it forced users to click through too much information before ultimately dropping off. Regardless, they can all be traced to a single fundamental problem. Design without purpose.
Good user experience design does not just visually delight and immerse users. Good user experience design guides viewers down a planned path to a clear and achievable goal. Designing with purpose is the dynamic process of preparing and creating an experience with a clear and concise goal in mind.
When building a new application or website, always start with a clear goal in mind, and tailor every design choice you make to support that goal. If you are unsure about an element in a design, ask yourself “what will this achieve?”. If the answer is unrelated to the goal of the project, remove or replace it.
2. Designing for too broad of an audience
You’ve likely heard the phrase “To design for everyone is to design for no one”.
Every company wants their product to reach as many people as possible, but pitching to a broad audience will always be more costly and less effective than pitching to a specific group of people.
Consumers are most likely to respond to advertisements that have people who look like them, or imagery relevant to their personal lifestyle. By picking a single group of people, taking the time to understand them, and tailoring content towards their interests, you greatly increase your chance of building rapport with prospective customers and leads.
Before starting a project, always take the time to research your audience and create visual references that you can easily use during the creative process. Never design for more than one target audience at a time and when possible, seek out feedback from your target audience as you advance in your design process.
3. Skipping Research
When building out a website or app, regardless of your experience in the field, you can never make assumptions about your target audience with absolute certainty. In a world of short deadlines and quick turnovers, it’s always tempting to skip steps in the design process, but skipping this one will set you up for failure.
While we are hired to build projects by companies and contractors, we ultimately create content for users and understanding them is paramount to understanding the purpose of our design. When doing research, don’t just rely on data. When possible conduct interviews, visit and observe businesses that you want to emulate, and absorb media that helps you better understand your audience.
4. Designing for only one screen size
As a designer, I cannot count the number of times I've seen a website that translated beautifully on widescreen devices, only to completely fall apart on mobile. This is a common problem, especially in web design, as it is still common practice to design for full screens first. Today, users consume 69% of their media on smartphones. If your website is not optimized for small screen devices, that is a huge percentage of potential conversions that you will miss.
When starting a digital project, it is best practice to design for small screens first and to design with responsiveness in mind. A good design will look good on every screen size that you put it on, not just one or two.
5. Skipping User Testing
Whether you are building out an intricate web application or a common company website, user testing is paramount to a high conversion rate. As designers, we can make educated assumptions about what user experiences will look like when strangers view our work, and if those assumptions have errors in them, user testing is your most valuable tool to ensure quality assurance.
While not all projects have the budget and time to do large-scale user tests, never push a site live without having non-specialist eyes review it. Once a site is live, user testing does not stop there. Leverage analytics and track visits on your site after it is live to snuff out weaknesses in the user interface.
6. Ignoring Performance
With constantly-shifting web trends and ever-expanding visual options, it is easy to get caught up in making our websites animated and interactive at the expense of performance. According to a large study conducted by Google, 53% of users will drop off a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Yes, you read that correctly. 3 seconds. Your website may contain the most stunning and immersive experience available to modern technology, however, if you miss this load-time window, a high percentage of your prospect conversions will not even see your site.
Every time you add a new, complex feature to your project, you dig into performance. Always take the time to optimize the loading time of your site and run speed tests both during and after the production phase.
7. Having an inefficient navigation
Good navigation is important for a lot of reasons. Not only does it build trust with viewers and guide conversions, but navigation also plays a pivotal role in how much traffic you get from search engines. Overly complicated and confusing navigation systems will drive away potential conversions while hurting your website's reputation and rank.
Always build out a plan for navigation before you design a website. Don't just build the navigation to organize web pages. Use research for your target audience and reference storyboards and buyer's journey maps. Keep your navigation as simple and straightforward as possible. Have no more than 7 main menu items unless absolutely necessary. Also, keep your conversion goals in mind and provide multiple avenues to lead visitors to those goals. For example, if the goal of a page is to compel viewers to fill out a "contact us" form, include a "contact us" link in the main navigation as well as several CTAs through the website that also links to the form.
When building out a website, never forget the importance that good effective design plays in conversions. UI/UX design is an ever-expanding field that seeks to create intuitive human-computer interactions. Start your next project on the right track by reviewing and avoiding these 7 common UI/UX design mistakes.