Most would agree that user experience (UX) is important to the overall prosperity of a website or web application. In some cases, though, the user’s experience can make or break a site completely. UX mistakes can affect conversion, piss off users and give your site a bad reputation for being hard to use. Here are some common mistakes that I see all over the web that directly affect customer conversion:
You would likely be surprised how many web designers don’t realize how important their mission statement is. Actually, this might arguably be the most important UX factor in regards to conversion. I mean, if a user doesn’t immediately understand what the heck your product does, why would you expect them to click around on your site and not just close the window altogether? Want to see an example of a mission statement done right? Checkout some of these examples of rocking mission statements:
Hidden Login / Signup
There really is a science behind login and signup placement. Some websites even put both right on the front page:
While this technique might not be right for every occasion, it really is an example of why it’s so important to grab the user without making them think too hard or click too much.
This technique may work wonders for sites like Facebook and Twitter but it might actually be a bad idea for smaller sites with less traffic. Most people have already heard of Facebook or Twitter and come to these sites with the intention of signing up. Less popular sites don’t have that luxury. Instead, it’s a good idea to use your header real-estate to grab the user’s attention with you mission statement and funnel them to the signup button.
Dribbble focuses on highlighting the work of it’s members to entice spectator’s and potential players to sign up.
I mentioned the funnel briefly but it deserves a bit more attention. Basically the goal of a web page is to take the user through a series of steps, the last if which is them signing up and becoming a conversion. A good funnel starts with a large mission statement (see the examples above). This gives the user a clear understanding, in as few words as possible, what your website is all about.
If your site is a social service, step two might be including a window into the social activity on your site. This might be a list of recent signups, comments, etc.. Having a social section on your front page lets the user know that they aren’t the only one using your website.
While most sites don’t seem to follow this trend, I believe that having an FAQ or a Learn More section on your home page is an excellent conversion tool. After all, why make the user click a link to get to these details when they are usually the best way to learn about your software or app?
Another popular conversion tool is video. It’s a hot trend right now to include a fun video right on your home page that shows how useful your service is. This only works if your video is good so please, if you don’t know video I would highly consider hiring a professional to help you out.
Here’s an example of how I might be converted to a user given a site with a proper funnel in place:
1) I take in the overall design aesthetic of the page
2) I read the mission statement, assuming it’s no longer than a sentence
3) If I am intrigued then I immediately search for a video or a learn more section near the top of the page
4) After the video ends I take a look at the activity feed on the front page and get the feeling that the site is alive with users and traffic
5) At this point I am interested in signing up so I look to the top of the site for a signup button
6) If the signup form is more than 4 fields or includes a captcha I close the page and move on
7) If the signup form has an option to use Facebook or Twitter to connect then I use that
While this certainly isn’t a blue-print for converting an average viewer into a user, it is the general path I take when making the decision to become a member of a service. A good practice might be to take a second and make a list like the one above and see what it would take YOU to sign up for your service. After all, we are all potential users.
Small but important UI mistakes
Using default input text as the label
A huge pet peeve of mine is when an input field has default text which doubles as it’s label. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, here’s an example:
The problem with this is that I usually tab through form fields. However, the label automatically goes away when a cursor enters the field. Then I’m stuck with an empty field having no idea what I’m supposed to enter. This may seem trivial but most users don’t like to think when doing mundane tasks like entering in a comment. A series of potential stumbling blocks like this could cause them to abandon their comment altogether.
5 Star rating systems
It’s slowly becoming common knowledge that these rating systems are highly flawed. The problem is, when a user likes an item they will generally give it a 5 star rating. If they dislike the item they will generally give it a 1 star rating. This leaves your site with only 2 types of content. Content with a 4-5 star and content with a 1-2 star rating. Instead it’s more practical to use a simple like/dislike or thumbs up/thumbs down type of system. The results can be output as a percentage or as a star rating. In either case this yields much better results.
YouTube actually recently abandoned their 5 star rating system for a more practical one:
What are some common UI/UX mistakes that you’ve noticed?
Are there any common issues you would add to this list? Let me know in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!