Brand Design

5 UX Myths Debunked

By Andy Clowes 10 August 2018

5 UX Myths DebunkedThere’s a lot of information out there about UX – from best practices to current trends. But because technology, design and digital spaces evolve so quickly, some of this information can date quickly. What once seemed like an indisputable truth is now obsolete. Here are 5 UX myths that might have been true once, but no longer apply.

Myth 1: Users must be able to achieve their goal in 3 clicks

There’s a widely-held belief that users need to be able to find what they’re looking for in 3 clicks or fewer. And while it’s true that unnecessarily lengthy customer journeys can decrease conversion rates, customers are more interested in being able to find what they’re looking for than the exact number of clicks it takes them to do so.

In fact, a recent study by UIE found that that number of clicks a user makes has no relation to whether or not they’re successful in finding what they’re looking for. The analysis found ‘hardly anybody gave up after 3 clicks’ and ‘there wasn’t any more likelihood of a user quitting after 3 clicks than after 12 clicks.’

What’s more, their study found that ‘fewer clicks do not make more satisfied users.’ In fact, there was little variation in satisfaction between different lengths of ‘clickstreams’.

While the three-click rule is useful to help designers think about optimising the customer journey, what’s most important is delivering what it is the user wants. If users find the content, information or service they’re looking for, it doesn’t matter how many clicks it takes.

Myth 2: Design is just about making a product look good

Many people believe that design is the finishing touch – the element that makes an otherwise excellent product look pretty. But design is about so much more than aesthetics: it can be the difference between a good product and a bad one.

Take an email, for example. You might think that it’s the content that makes an email effective – and it certainly does. But design plays an important role, too. If an email doesn’t look professional or is a dense block of text, then it doesn’t matter what it says: a user is going to delete it unread. A call-to-action button in the right place can make the difference between a user clicking on it or not. The positioning of elements can encourage a user to keep scrolling to the end. The right colour scheme makes key messages stand out and increases the likelihood that a user will engage.

When you think about design purely in terms of aesthetic, you’re missing an opportunity to think more creatively – to influence a user’s behaviour and to increase engagement with your product.

Myth 3: People don’t like to scroll

We’re told that in the age of social media, with shorter attention spans and greater demands on our time, nobody has time to scroll to the bottom of a webpage. You therefore need to ‘front-load’ your webpages with all the important information and key benefits above the fold.

But research shows that users do scroll – providing the page offers content they’re interested in. Chartbeat found that when it comes to normal content (e.g.. content that hasn’t been promoted or placed in a publication by advertisers), 71% of users scroll all the way to the end of the page. When it comes to native ad content, however, only 24% of visitors scroll to the bottom.

In the words of Chartbeat’s CEO, Tony Haile: ‘This suggests [that] brands are paying for – and publishers are driving traffic to – content that does not capture the attention of its visitors or achieve the goals of its creators.’

The lesson? Create content that genuinely appeals to your target audience and meets their needs. If you’re offering something with real value, people will stick around to read about it.

Myth 4: Usability testing is too expensive

Usability testing used to be cost prohibitive, requiring an expensively equipped testing lab and weeks of time. But research by Jakob Nielsen and Tom Landauer found that you actually only need to test your product on 5 users to get the best results. Their study found that ‘as you add more and more users, you learn less and less because you keep seeing the same things again and again.’

Their research found that in order to find all the usability problems in a product, you need to test with at least 15 users – but you’re better off dividing your budget between 3 different tests. Tests with 5 users reveal more than 85% of the design problems in a product. So conduct one test with 5 users, fix the problems, and then conduct another test with another 5 users, and so on. That way, you’re not spending all your testing budget in one go, only to discover that you fixed the original problems but created a whole new set of flaws.

It’s clear then that you don’t need to conduct lengthy tests with dozens of users. A few short tests will yield the same results for a lot more value.

Myth 5: The more choices and options you give a user, the more satisfied they are

It’s easy to look at the shift towards an omnichannel approach and assume that the best way to keep customers happy is to give them lots of options and ways to engage. But an omnichannel approach only works if you can use all channels effectively. Otherwise, you’re just creating more points of frustration for your customers, and a more complex customer journey.

Giving too many options – whether it’s too many channels, too many features on a web app, or too many buttons on a single page – can have a negative impact on customer satisfaction and conversion. For example, it canlead to decision paralysis (the user is overwhelmed so they just walk away and don’t make a decision), poor decision quality (the user is overwhelmed, so they just pick a choice at random rather than considering their options), decision satisfaction (the user made the right decision, but now they’re wondering if they’re missing out on something better), and more.

You therefore need to find the right balance and give customers enough options that they don’t feel restricted, but not too many that they feel overwhelmed.

See other posts by Andy Clowes

Head of Design and UI/UX

As Head of Design & UX/UI for Engage Hub, Andy has over 17 years’ experience across blue-chip organisations; from technology and financial services to automotive and consumer-lead industries. Being Prince2 certified & following ISO 9241 principles, Andy is a specialist in brand management, research-driven UX design and delivering creative, yet native, digital solutions for customers.

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