Common User Experience Fails that are Easily Fixed

15 Mar 2018

The thing about user experience (more commonly known as UX) is that you don’t have to be an expert to recognise bad UX. If something doesn’t work, is confusing, or frustrating, then it’s simply no good.

So as someone who is certainly no expert, here’s some easily fixable usability and UX fails that I’ve encountered in my day-to-day life, and how they could be fixed.

Forgetful infinite scroll

As seen on YouTube

This one is surprisingly common, and really drives me nuts, as infinite scroll is the replacement to pagination that no-one asked for, and is often implemented in a way that’s worse than the pagination it’s replacing.

For example, when scrolling through videos on a YouTube channel, as you scroll down, more videos are loaded on demand and added to the list. The problem is if you click on one of those videos, and then use the browser’s back button to return to the list, you get dropped back at the top of the list, and you have to go through all the scrolling and loading again to get back to where you were.

The fix

This is a problem that was already solved with good ol’ pagination, as pushing the browser’s back button would always take you back to the correct page. It’s also a problem that could be solved with HTML5’s history.pushState() to change the URL every time more items are added to the results page, that way the back button would take you to the correct page, instead of going back to the very top.


Duplicate Buttons

As seen on MailChimp

When editing a text content section for a news letter template in MailChimp, there are two buttons labeled Save & Close at the bottom right of the screen:

The first of these buttons saves the changes to the section of text you’re current editing, which is most likely the button you want. The other button saves and closes the entire newsletter template, without first saving the text. Thankfully if you do click this button when you’ve been editing text content, MailChimp will ask you to confirm that you really want to close without saving the text. But still, having both buttons labeled identically, and so close to each other, is pretty confusing.

The fix

An easy fix would just be to change the labels, eg: one could be “Save Text & Close”, and the other could be “Save Template & Close”. Better yet, they could disable the template save & close button while a text section is being edited.


Useless Error Messages

As seen on Saber

I’m going to call out my own startup here (although I have already fixed this issue). When using Saber’s form builder, if you tried to save a form with with no fields, you would get the following somewhat cryptic error message:

The fix

Of course, it was really easy to fix this, I just made a much better error message:

The hard part is finding these kinds of issues, which is where a website feedback tool like Saber can be really useful, as it allows your users to easily tell you about issues like this.


Ambiguous highlight

As seen on Tesco Money

This one caught me out recently, when trying to order some foreign currency. When choosing whether to have the money delivered or to pick it up in store, it wasn’t obvious which option was currently highlighted:

My first instinct was that the blue button was currently active, as it’s the contrasting colour, which is usually used to show when something is highlighted.

The fix

An easy fix for this case would be to remove the blank space between the active button and the content below, and use a less prominent colour for the inactive button, that way it would become a tab interface, making it obvious which is currently active.


Unnecessarily resetting forms

As seen on Gumtree

This happens when searching on Gumtree, every time you change any of the filters (eg: price, location), the sort order resets to Most Recent First, even if you’ve previously changed it to something else:

This is particularly annoying as the page reloads as soon as you change the sort order, so if you change the sort order before specifying search criteria, it will reset to nearest first, and you’ll have to change it again.

The fix

Again, this is an easy fix, just make sure all form field values are maintained when submitting.

So there’s some common and easily fixable user experience and usability issues. Where possible I’ve reported these issues to the respective websites, and the Tesco Money one has already been fixed, hopefully the others will follow suit soon. Be sure to check out Saber Feedback if you’d like your users to easily report these kinds of issues to you.

Thanks for reading.

- Matt

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