Lipstick on a Pig: Four User Experience No-No's and How to Avoid Them
Peter Panda

The experience someone has with your website can be the difference between a significant sale and a prospective customer who will never do business with you again.

It’s just one reason why redesigning a website without considering the user’s experience – or UX – is like slapping lipstick on a pig or polishing a…well, you get the picture…so I’ll spare you the descriptive mental image that was going to conjure up.

Your website may look pretty and even get a few ooo’s and ahh’s, but at the end of the day, if the users are not guided down the right path, if they don’t connect with the content, if it’s too difficult to use – they will not fill out your form, use your fancy calculator or buy something from your store.

But wait. You’re in luck. UX really boils down to empathy. Yes, empathy, along with the ability to put yourself in your user’s shoes (even if the shoes are tacky and so last season).

Here are Four User Experience No No’s and How to Avoid Them:

1. Not (Actually) Putting Your User First

It’s not always about you. Ok, well maybe it is sometimes, but definitely not always. Are you making a decision on your new website’s wireframe (the blueprint for the site), design or functionality because you like it or because you feel it provides value to your user or your business goals? If you can’t answer this, then you already know the answer.

2. Not Writing for the Web

Content written for print and dumped into a new, super sleek website by any other name is still well, word vomit. Writing for the web is just different. Users are scanning information and are typically only on a page for five to 10 seconds unless the content is good – really good. Walk a mile (or read a mile) in their shoes and ask yourself:  “What is the most important message? What would I want to do with this information?” If you don’t know the answers, scrap it. You most likely have a wide variety of communication tools you use to reach your users, your website is just one piece of this puzzle. Content should have clear sections, subsections, and various web conventions like tables, visuals, and accordions to convey information quickly to your users.

3. Creating Forms Only Your Mother Would Love

We know that you want to capture every juicy detail about your users so that you can put it in your tickler or CRM for follow-up. But, step back. Think of your website as a user just wanting to get their toes wet with your company. They are giving you the chance to court them or they just have a quick question. Ask for the basic information – Name, Phone Number, Email, Question/Comment. Then follow up. Build the relationship over time. You can’t get the milk for free, am-I-right? If the user comes to your form and is overwhelmed, doesn’t want to provide required information or quite frankly doesn’t understand why you need the information – they will bounce faster than you can say bananas.

4. Not Considering Mobile First (Or at All)

When was the last time you weren’t glued to your phone? Whether it’s walking down the street, curing boredom in a meeting, killing time when the in-laws are over or sitting on the john – users by and large are using mobile as their primary website and web application viewing tool. Having a responsive site (a site that responds/reformats itself to any device or screen size) is no longer optional. Users expect it. They silently (and passive aggressively) demand it. If you have Google Analytics installed (you should, it’s free), check it out. I would wager a guess that more than 50 percent of your traffic is coming from mobile. Mobile conventions need thought through, data should be limited, calls to action should be large and in charge. You get the point. If content is king, being mobile friendly is the crazy (but beautiful) queen you need to cater to.

See, not so tricky. We’d love to hear any no-no’s you have to share. If you need some user experience assistance….holler.

Peter Panda

Pioneering social media panda bear Tagawa “Peter” Panda was born on a Chinese game reserve in 1969. He emigrated to the United States in 1987 speaking no English, with only the fur on his back and $97 stored in a Jansport fanny-pack wrapped around his waist.

In 2003 while searching for food on the campus of Washington University, he discovered a computer lab where he would ultimately teach himself web development, graphic design, and immerse himself into the growing digital media evolution that was erupting at the time.

With his trademark surly demeanor developed during beatings on his boat ride from China to the U.S., as well as having a penchant for eating vast quantities of bamboo, and enjoying Scotch and cigars, Peter is broadly recognized for coining the phrase “social media” in 2004. He joined Elasticity in late 2009 as the agency’s director of social media strategy and wildlife relations. Friend him on Facebook here.

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