Most consumers now are accutely aware of their experiences when interacting with interfaces, be they in the form of websites or apps on their tablet or smartphone. Granted, if you work as a digital designer or user experience designer then you might be more consciously aware of the way you analyse your experience as a user, but even casual consumers notice when things annoy them or don’t work as smoothly as they might. The following are some examples of user experience blunders that should be relics of the past but which are sadly still all too common.
Text as images. OK, so the casual user might not notice this unless it causes them problems, but us web designers hate this: the practice of displaying text with a graphic like a jpeg, rather than coding it as ‘real’ text rendered by the browser. What if for some reason the image doesn’t load? Vital information might be hidden to the user. What if the user is viewing the interface with a high-density display, like Apple’s retina display? if the image hasn’t been set up for high-DPI displays, text will look fuzzy and far from crisp. And even if the images do cater for retina displays, what happens when the user zooms into the make the text bigger? It instantly loses clarity. Urgh. When making websites, always render text as text, and keep it separate from pictures.
Separate mobile site versions of websites. The dreaded ‘click here for the mobile view’ button. These days, there’s usually no reason to have more than one version of a website. Designers should build their sites responsively using CSS3 media queries to detect screen width and alter the layout accordingly.
Splash pages: the ‘welcome’ page that a user encounters at the front of a website or app, which they must click through to get to the real meat of the interface. Horrid. Why delay the user from getting straight to the part of the information they’re interested in? Admittedly, there are probably rare occasions when splash screens are necessary. But they must be few and far between.
Broken things: links that lead nowhere; images that fail to load and show a space with the dreaded red cross; text formatted poorly; dead ends. Apps and websites should be thoroughly tested before being released into the wild, and they should be continuously maintained. Last week I received a promotional newsletter-type email from a large software company. The sole purpose of the email was to tell readers about the launch of a new software feature. The email contained only one ‘call to action’ link. When I clicked it, my browser took me to a 404 ‘page not found’ message. D’oh. Things like this just shouldn’t happen.
Horizontal scrolling. Caveat: sometimes this is intended and necessary. But you know what I’m describing: those situations where a website is displaying slightly too wide for your screen, and you have to scroll a little bit to the right in order to see the cropped edge of the page. Nasty, nasty, nasty.
Are there other examples of poor user experience that drive you crazy? Tell us in the comments, below!