Web-design is a creative field that requires both technical skills and artistic flair. However, even the most experienced web designers can make some common UI mistakes that can ruin the user experience and affect the performance of their websites. In this blog post, we will discuss five of these mistakes and how to avoid them.
1. Ignoring Design Principles
Design principles are the fundamental guidelines that help web designers create effective and aesthetically pleasing interfaces. Some of the most important design principles are:
- Alignment: Aligning elements on a page creates a sense of order and harmony. Everything should be generally balanced in a way that forms a coherent picture
- Contrast: Using different colors, sizes, shapes, and fonts to create visual interest and hierarchy. Some elements should stand out more. The ones that do should be more important.
- Repetition: Repeating elements such as colors, icons, logos, and fonts creates consistency and familiarity. You can also break repetition, once you have established a pattern, to focus the attention of the audience on the breaker.
- Proximity: Grouping related elements together creates a logical structure and reduces clutter.
2. Choosing Trends over Usability
Trends are definitionally always hot. A lot of organizations tend to rely on them far too much. Firstly, trends are often short-lived and ever-changing, while usability focuses on creating a functional and intuitive user experience that stands the test of time.
Trends may not align with the specific needs and preferences of the target audience. Design choices should be guided by user research and usability testing to ensure that the website effectively serves its purpose and meets the user expectations.
Flashy animations, complex layouts, and excessive use of multimedia can distract and confuse users, leading to frustration and abandonment of the website.
3. Ignoring Accessibility
Accessibility is the practice of designing websites that are inclusive and accessible for everyone, regardless of their abilities or disabilities. Some of the common accessibility issues that web designers should consider are:
- Color contrast: Using colors that have enough contrast between them to ensure that the text and images are readable for people with low vision or color blindness.
- Keyboard navigation: Providing keyboard shortcuts and focus indicators for people who use keyboards instead of mice to navigate websites.
- Alt text: Providing alternative text descriptions for images, videos, and other non-text elements for people who use screen readers or have slow internet connections.
- Captions: Providing captions or transcripts for audio and video content for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Not taking into account accessibility can exclude a large portion of potential users and customers from accessing your website and can also affect your SEO ranking. There is a whole lot more to accessibility than this though, that much should be obvious.
4. Overreliance on User Input
User input is any information that the user provides to a website through forms, buttons, checkboxes, dropdown menus, etc. Relying too much on user input can also create some problems though, such as:
- Validation errors: These are errors that occur when the user enters invalid or incorrect information in a form field. For example, entering an email address without an @ sign or a phone number with letters.
- Security risks: These are risks that occur when the user enters sensitive or personal information in a form field that is not secure or encrypted. For example, entering credit card details or passwords in a plain text field or on an unsecured website.
- Cognitive load: This is the amount of mental effort that the user has to exert to process information on a website. Asking too many questions or requiring too much information from the user can increase their cognitive load and reduce their attention span.
The solution is to minimize user input as much as possible and to make it easy and intuitive for users to provide it. Some ways to do this are:
- Autofill: This is a feature that automatically fills in some form fields based on the users previous inputs or browser data. For example, filling in the name, address, and email fields based on the user profile or cookies.
- Default values: These are values that are pre-selected or pre-filled in some form fields based on the most common or expected choices. For example, selecting the country, currency, or language based on the userl ocation or preferences.
- Progress indicators: These are visual cues that show the user how much of a form or a process they have completed and how much is left. For example, showing a percentage bar, a step-by-step guide, or a checkmark for each completed field.
5. Inconsistent Visual Elements
We have already mentioned how pattern breaking can be useful. However, some web designers make the mistake of using inconsistent visual elements too much, or in the wrong place at the wrong time, such as:
- Changing colors: Using different colors for the same elements on different pages or sections of a website. For example, using blue for links on one page and red on another, or using different shades of the same color for different buttons.
- Changing icons: Using different icons for the same functions or actions on different pages or sections of a website.
- Changing images: Using different images for the same products or services on different pages or sections of a website.