UX mistakes happen often simply because we’re looking at things from our own perspective.
For this post, I will outline several common (and natural) UX mistakes we make and methods we can use to retrain our point-of-view into those of our visitors, users, and potential customers.
By putting ourselves into the shoes of these people, we make it easier for them to convert into buyers.
UX Mistake #1: The Road that Leads to Nowhere
A common mistake that many people make when building their website or optimizing landing pages is only considering the destination and thinking, “What do you we want people to do on this page?”.
Because of this, visitors get trapped.
It’s like coming to a dead-end where the only options a visitor has is turning around and going backwards or bouncing on out by taking a quick exit.
This can especially be an issue when visitors come from search engines or referrers and the only way for them to to go back is to return from where they came from.
This might be ok when you want to offer people only two options on a sales or campaign-specific landing page (to take an action or leave).
The problem becomes more apparent when you actually do want people to visit other areas of your site or learn more about your product or brand or when your landing page hasn’t given enough information for them to make a decision.
Taking out navigational links is especially common on blogs and interior sections of a site that have their own area like media pages, knowledges bases, and FAQs.
Even top branding agencies and well-known organizations make this mistake on their sites.
The easy short-term solution: add navigation
The long-term solution: think about all of your visitors in and how they move along their journey rather than only on their destination. What additional information do they need to create a decision that’s in line with your goals?
Be a good host and hold the doors open for your visitors. Gently guide them, but let them decide what they need and where they want to go next.
UX Mistake #2: The Outsides Don’t Match the Insides
How many times have you been enamored by fancy marketing and then a little let-down by the actual product itself?
It’s become more common for startups and existing brands to design their sites with high-level photography and design.
This is a wonderful thing, unless the package doesn’t match exactly with what’s inside the box.
What can be especially disappointing in this visual world is getting excited to use a new software and then realizing that it looks like it was designed as an afterthought by overly-left-brained engineers (no offense to you great engineers out there!).
It’s ok to have a product that isn’t fancy-pants.
The problem lies when there is an expectation mismatch. This happens when your visitors see all those high-production promo videos and photography, but your actual product design and UX hasn’t been updated for several years to be in-line with your spiffy branding.
Beyond making sure your brand matches up across all touch-points, this can be solved by adding screenshots of your actual product and letting people experience a live demo of your software before they sign up so that they can get a taste of the product experience.
You can even take it a step further and allow people to try a product demo right on your home page without signing-up.
The software Web Engage has a dedicated page on their site for just this use: http://demo.webengage.com/awesome-demo/view
UX Mistake #3: Assuming All Visitors are the Same Person
When we build out our websites and landing pages, it’s easy to become focused on our goals and what we want visitors to do.
We narrow our view down to one persona so that we can cater to them specifically. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially when it builds empathy with our users and helps us see them as real people.
The problem comes when we forget that different people have different types of goals and needs.
One person might be doing research and looking for specific information while another might be all ready to sign-up. They both are on different paths getting to where they want to go.
Define your users.
Make a list of all of the different types of visitors you have coming to your site or landing page.
Some examples might be:
- Existing customers
- New visitors
- Repeat visitors
- People doing research
- People ready to buy
Once you have a good idea of what types of visitors you have, then write down the needs of each visitor.
- Existing customers goals:
- Quickly find support
- Quickly log into their account
- Quickly find their account and billing infos
- New visitors goals:
- Get oriented to your space
- Learn about what you offer and why it’s unique
- Repeat visitors goals:
- Get helpful information
- Feel a sense of belonging
- People doing research:
- Find specific information about your product
- Find references that allow them to compare it to other similar products and see its benefits
- People ready to buy:
- Buy your product as quickly and easily as possible without friction
- Get started using your product right away
Now that you have an idea of who your visitors are and what their goals are, that’s when you can start planning your layout around them.
Here’s an example of a home page design we made for a client that illustrates how we addressed each of these types of visitors.
What other goals can you think of based on your users needs?
UX Mistake #4: Too Much, Too Soon
How many times have you sat next to a generous stranger on a plane who proceeds to tell you their whole life story?
You’re a good person, so you listen and patiently make small talk while you look at all of their photos of their beautiful grandchildren.
It’s not that you don’t mind, but secretly, you’ve been wanting to use this time to relax and take a nap to get your jet lag under control.
Instead, you’re so tired you can barely keep your eyes open and your head is blowing up with stories about that one family reunion 23 years ago in Wisconsin.
This is kind of like what happens when you give too much information to your visitors, too soon. They’re like:
“Whoa! I don’t know you, stranger. Why are we getting so intimate already?”.
The big difference here is that while a person in real life might nod their head and listen to you politely, a visitor on your website or landing page will pack up and leave in a matter of seconds.
Prioritize and then trim off the extra fat.
Make a list of the things that are truly important and cut everything else.
We know it’s important for you to explain to your visitors about your company and familiarize them with you.
But, is that the first thing people should see when they visit your site? Does it align with their goals (see #3 above).
Play the devil’s advocate and ask yourself if this thing you want to add in really needs to be there.
For example, let’s say you want to put the latest news about your company at the top of your home page. Before you do that, ask yourself these questions first:
- Do your site visitors want to see your news first or do they have other goals in mind for themselves?
- Is this taking up space that could be better used for another, more important item?
- How does putting this here serve us, really?
Or, if you’re not sure what to put, you can always start with your different types of visitors’ goals first.
I know, here we go again with those goals.
For example, what needs to be on your home page for your existing customers? Let’s review the goals again for that visitor type:
- Quickly find support ← Add a meta menu secondary menu at the top of your site just for them and link to support
- Quickly log into their account ← Again, add a link at the top of your site
- Quickly find their account and billing infos ← What do you know? Another meta secondary link.
Once you have your new structure in place, you can get a general idea about the effectiveness by tracking a few basic stats after you’ve made the changes.
Here are the results of a site restructure we did for a client after identifying the most important goals for their website. This meant placing their services front and center on their home page and taking out a lot of secondary information.
As you can see, for a similar period, the average page views increased to 4.5 pages per session up from 2.63 pages. That’s a big increase over time and means that visitors are being better guided to what they need.
It’s easy enough once you plan a little, right?
UX Mistake #5: Starting with the End in Mind
When you first start optimizing for conversions and user experience, it can be helpful to concentrate on all of the end-points of a process like the customer buying your product, a visitor signing up for your newsletter, or a sales call to close a deal.
This is a great technique to learn where your friction-points are and how to make those last steps as seamless as possible.
Too much concentration on those end-points can cause a jarring experience for your user though. All that focus on action can be overly stimulating for a visitor and move them out of a natural flow.
What’s more, we often become so accustomed to how we do things, that we lost sight of what the experience might be like for other people.
Get familiar with all your touchpoints.
Once you’ve addressed all of the issues you can think of in your sales and on-boarding processes, then comes the time to start thinking about the whole journey and experience of your users and site visitors.
Touchpoints happen each time a user comes in contact with you, but I’d like to extend that definition to consider the whole experience for the visitor.
How to get familiar:
Pull up a comfy chair and your website, landing page or app.
Now imagine yourself as a specific user type. Go through your whole website or software and place yourself in that user’s role.
Are you doing research for your own needs or perhaps those of your boss? What information do you need? Can you find it quickly?
What do you see when you first visit your website or landing page?
When you click on a link to learn more about your product, what happens then?
When you view a video on your site, what then? If you read your website’s copy out-loud, how does it feel?
When you’re done, do it all again using a mobile device and see how you feel (you are prepared for mobile, right?).
All of these little micro-actions add up to a whole and potentially compelling experience for your user.
Making a great user experience is all about careful planning and then revising as you go gain more experience, information, or your or your users’ needs grow or change.
Your work will never be totally done, but it’ll always be worth the doing.
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