Common user experience (UI/UX) mistakes that can hurt your website’s conversion

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:

Unclear Mission

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.

The Funnel

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!


Your users are your brand’s most important asset

Over the past year I have been involved in many different discussions and meetings with the purpose of determining a company’s or product’s customer. I quickly realized that there isn’t a simple answer that can be applied across the board. However, I sometimes like to propose a different question: Who is your brand’s most important asset? More often than not the answer is simple. The users.

How does this help?

If you are asking this question then you are missing something vital to your business’ success. Without users you have no advertisers and typically no content. This also usually means you have no revenue. Basically, you have no business.

Building for the user and thinking about pie


Keep this principle in mind as you build out your web service or product. With every decision you make ask yourself “Is this good for the user? Why?”. User-centric design is indeed on the rise but you’d be surprised how many UX and product designers are still slaves to aesthetics. Looks are nice but they are not everything. If your web app was a pie, aesthetics would be a single slice while user experience would be half the pie.


We truly are entering an era where the user is king. Customer service, customer interaction and user experience are becoming increasingly important in our society. This is because users, at their core, are the primary link to revenue. Users are the ones who add true value to your platform, product or service. Without them you don’t even have a business.

I also want to note that I realize this principle doesn’t apply to all products everywhere but most modern services and products would truly benefit from this user-centric mentality. So what do you think? Is the user really that important or are there other factors? Let me know in the comments section below. Thanks for reading!


How to stand out when looking for a new job

In our recent search for new devs at UrtheCast, I have grown pretty frustrated with the quality of applications we have been receiving. It’s like these people don’t even want a job. The thing is, in order to stand out, especially in San Francisco, you need to do something that gets you noticed. Just emailing an out-dated resume doesn’t do the trick. In fact, it’s a guaranteed way to get your resume thrown out before it’s even looked at.

Over the years I’ve realized that most people are just casting resumes out, focusing on quantity over quality, and hoping for a bite. The good news is, this makes it easy for others to stand out, you know, the ones who actually give a shit.

How to stand out in 5 easy steps!

1. A short, personable cover letter

A cover letter is a small window into your personality and is usually the first thing a potential employer sees when you send through an application. Typically, if I’m not sent a cover letter, I don’t even bother looking at the resume.. it’s that important.

Luckily, writing a good cover letter is dead simple. Talk about yourself, explain your passions, show your excitement to work at this amazing company, keep it around 3-4 sentences, and you’re golden. And always keep in mind that most people can smell copy+pasted cover letters a mile away so do yourself a favor and write a sincere and unique cover letter for EVERY application you send out.

2. The parable of the persistent widow

One thing I’ve learned is that you HAVE to keep your name on their minds. Without being an annoying jerk, kindly reach out when you haven’t heard back in a while. A simple “Hey there, just wanted to check on the status of my application and see if I could answer any questions for you guys. Thanks and keep up the great work!” goes a long way.

3. Link to everything

The more I can learn about a candidate the better. Don’t be afraid to include your website URL, twitter username, linkedin profile, stack overflow username, dribbble username, etc.. And, if you include your website URL, make sure it’s up to date!

4. Put some real effort into your resume

This is huge. When I pull up a resume and see a 4 page document with tiny text and a thousand lines I pretty much close the doc immediately. I suggest only putting the most relevant and important information on your resume and don’t be afraid to be brief. A little color doesn’t hurt either. The main things I look for here is relevant past experience, the right skillset and dash of creativity.

5. Research the damn company!

Before you send through an application and ESPECIALLY before you interview, research the hell out of the company and make sure you are as knowledgeable as possible. Candidates always score points when they are well informed and have some good, inquisitive questions prepared before coming into the interview.


This isn’t rocket science. Standing out is easy. Companies aren’t looking for a drone to fill a chair. They are looking for a passionate and personable member to add to their team. The key is to portray your passions and personality in every resume. After all, no one wants to hire a robot.

Do you have any tips to add? Let me know in the comments section below or send me a tweet @ericbieller. Thanks for reading!