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10 common UX design mistakes & how to fix them

That sinking feeling of seeing high bounce rates, low conversions, and complaints stemming from UX design mistakes is one we all recognize but want to avoid.

Last updated

22 Apr 2022

While some user experience (UX) design mistakes are inevitable, errors can be minimized. Adopt a proactive approach to stay ahead of the curve and remove blocks to user satisfaction.

To help you get there, we’ve compiled the ten most common UX design mistakes—and provided solutions. Keep reading to find out what these mistakes are and why excellent UX design is vital to the success of any online business.

Sidestep UX design mistakes with Hotjar

Sign up for a free Hotjar account, uncover valuable user insights, and take a proactive approach to creating optimal UX

The importance of excellent UX design

Strong UX design is the best way to produce a customer-centric product or website that brings in new users, retains existing ones, and creates customer delight.

If customers have a positive, frictionless, and enjoyable product experience (PX), they’ll reach their desired outcomes, continue to use your product, and recommend you far and wide.

On the other hand, when users have a frustrating, confusing, or downright negative experience, they may cancel their subscriptions and stop using your product, or share negative reviews with their community.

In a nutshell, designing a great UX: 

  • Builds trust and credibility

  • Saves time and money

  • Converts new users

  • Drives adoption

  • Boosts customer retention and loyalty

  • Reduces churn

  • Improves SEO rankings

Pro tip: user willingness to recommend a product to their friends, family, and colleagues is a great indicator of overall customer satisfaction. It’s one of the most important questions asked on a Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey. Use Hotjar's Feedback tools to set up an on-site NPS survey to find out the likelihood of users recommending your website to others, potentially bringing in new customers.

#Asking your customers, 'How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?' helps calculate Net Promoter Score and gauges user satisfaction

#How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?” is one of the key questions in a Net Promoter Score survey

10 frequent UX design mistakes you should avoid

As customer pain points and needs evolve, you’ll need to optimize the UX you provide in a continuous loop to deliver the best possible product, which can be a challenge

Rather than waiting for bumps in the road, why not take a proactive approach to UX? Use our list of the ten most frequent UX design mistakes to develop an awareness of common UX problems and solutions—and sidestep common blunders before they happen.

1. Striking the wrong balance between aesthetics and functionality

To offer excellent UX, your product should both look great and work well—not one or the other.

If you tip the scale too far in either direction, you risk customers getting frustrated with poor functionality or giving your brand a bad reputation due to a low-quality visual experience.

Usually, functionality should be slightly prioritized over aesthetics. A great-looking product is important, but if it doesn’t work well, the UX will suffer.

Let’s start with a few examples. Take discount airline EasyJet’s website homepage: the overall design is eye-catching, but the functionality leaves a lot to be desired. 

#Easyjet’s homepage looks great, but it distracts visitors from doing what they really want. Img source: EasyJet homepage
Easyjet’s homepage looks great, but it distracts visitors from doing what they really want. Img source: EasyJet homepage

The majority of EasyJet visitors land there because they want to book a flight. But Easyjet’s flight booking form and 'Inspire Me' tools take up almost the same amount of space on their homepage, so users aren’t sure what they’re being asked to do. The site also has a busy top menu bar and excessive pop-ups and dynamic visual elements—there’s too much going on here.

Visitors are likely to get distracted or confused before they successfully book a flight. Even though the user interface (UI) looks cool, it’s not practical and leads to a confusing customer journey.

#Skyscanner’s homepage gets straight to the point and focuses on the essentials. Img source: Skyscanner homepage
Skyscanner’s homepage gets straight to the point and focuses on the essentials. Img source: Skyscanner homepage

Travel search engine Skyscanner shows a much better blend of aesthetics and functionality. Their design is straightforward and focuses on what site visitors want to do: make a booking. They get the win here.

As a general rule, make sure your users can accomplish what they’re trying to do with your product as seamlessly as possible. Start with the basic jobs-to-be-done framework in the design process. If a design element takes away from that process, remove or adjust it.

Then, confirm your product’s functionality works the way it should with a product experience insights tool like Hotjar Session Recordings, which puts you in your users’ shoes and helps pinpoint any problems or bugs.

2. Ignoring user needs and feedback

Your user should be at the center of everything you do. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you know better than your user or even worse, that you are your user.

It’s vital to take their feedback seriously to close the gap in understanding user needs. 

Keep your product user-centered by prioritizing customers at every stage of the product design and optimization process. Ask yourself how you can optimize your product so it presents a seamless solution to user pain points.

Throughout your product’s lifecycle, be proactive about collecting user feedback with UX surveys so you can create a consistent cycle of listening to your users and optimizing your product accordingly.

Hotjar Surveys help you gather long-form user feedback while Feedback widgets allow you to hear from your users on the go while they’re experiencing your product.

“Think in systems. Don’t think about your design as a stand-alone, but rather as part of a bigger journey and conversation that your users navigate through.”

Saskia Everard
Product Designer, Hotjar

3. Bombarding users with pop-ups

Nothing turns users off like getting hit with a range of different pop-ups as soon as they land on your homepage. Rather than obtaining the information they want, they have to deal with closing or navigating away from a bunch of pop-up windows before they’ve even started their product or web journey.

Not all pop-ups are bad, but be mindful of poorly placed and poorly designed pop-ups, as well as those that can’t be closed easily.

To design UX-friendly pop-ups, consider how many you include and when. It’s best to stick with one per page and ensure that it doesn’t interrupt the UX by taking up the whole screen. Your pop-ups should also be simple to close, easily addressed in just a few clicks, and relevantly placed.

“Effective pop-ups know the right problems to focus on and the right reasons to bother users.”

Maximillian Piras
Product Designer

Pro tip: be sure to ask users for pop-up-specific feedback during the testing phase if you want to be extra sure they’re not disrupting people. Use Hotjar’s Feedback tools to learn what users like (and dislike) about your website in real-time. They’re designed to be unobtrusive and addressable in as little as one click, so they fit seamlessly into the user’s web experience while providing you with valuable insights.

Hotjar's tool stack is designed to gather speedy user feedback without disrupting the UX.

4. Overlooking the 'in-between' states

In the design world, just like in life, things rarely turn out exactly as planned. Great UX design anticipates unexpected circumstances as much as ideal scenarios.

Consider your users’ entire experience with your product throughout the design process. This should encompass the beginning, the end, and the in-between stage.

#Your product’s empty and in-between states also contribute to overall UX. Don’t forget about them! Img source: dribbble.com
Your product’s empty and in-between states also contribute to overall UX. Don’t forget about them! Img source: dribbble.com

Imagine your user is signing up for a free trial on your website. If everything goes perfectly, the main two states your user will experience are the initial sign-up page and the success page. 

But bumps in the road happen and more often than not you’ll need to spend time considering the 'in-between' states, such as:

  • What do users see while entering their information?

  • What do users see when they submit their information but forget a field?

  • What do users see when they submit their information but have already used up their free trial?

  • What do users see when there’s a system or connection error?

Always consider the full user experience. Account for the design of the in-between just as much as the main states and best-case scenarios, and build in a high fault tolerance so you’re still delivering great UX even when mistakes happen.

5. Hopping on every design trend

Just like fashion, music, and hairstyles, the design space is full of UX trends that come and go. While it’s important to stay up-to-date with trends, don’t feel pressured to go along with everything you hear about just because it’s a trend.

For instance, flat design became a popular UX trend in the early 2010s. Flat design is an offshoot of minimalism characterized by a lack of 3D visual elements. It has largely gone out of style because of the UX issues it presents, like confusing users about which elements are clickable and which aren’t.

#Consider the raised button vs. the flat button above. Which one entices you to click on it? Img source: codenameone.com
Consider the raised button vs. the flat button above. Which one entices you to click on it? Img source: codenameone.com

Always consider how a design trend will impact your users:

  • Will it make your product easier to navigate, reducing friction to make your user's life easier?

  • Does it have better visual aesthetics and produce an improved first impression for new users?

  • Does it make your UX writing easier to read?

These are all important questions to ask that keep you focused on whether a given design trend will really improve your users’ product experience.

6. Treating UX writing as an afterthought

Although UX content isn’t necessarily part of product design, it’s an essential part of the user experience. All too often, UX content is added to products as the last step or even as an afterthought. This can result in a disconnect between what users read and what the overall design is telling them to do.

To make matters worse, writers sometimes have to produce UX content without seeing the product’s design or where their copy will ultimately be placed.

To address this problem, design with the ideal placement of UX content in mind and communicate this throughout the product development process. Delivering screenshots and wireframes to UX writers can help them understand how their copy will fit into the finished design.

In addition, be sure that your writers are well-versed in the principles of visual hierarchy. Your most important UX writing should be placed in high-visibility areas, which can be evaluated with tools like Hotjar Heatmaps.

#Hotjar Heatmaps show that the highest-visibility areas are at the top of the screen. Users are also frequently clicking on the images and menu bar tabs.
Hotjar Heatmaps show that the highest-visibility areas are at the top of the screen. Users are also frequently clicking on the images and menu bar tabs.

7. Overwhelming users with too much information

If you’re part of a product development team, you’re an expert on your product and passionate about it. So, it can be tempting to overwhelm your users with too much product information right off the bat.

This kind of data overload can quickly confuse users if they don’t have time to wrap their heads around the info you're giving them and digest it.

The first webpage or app frame your users see shouldn’t be too overwhelming. If it’s busy or contains too many different elements, users won’t know where to begin and may drop off your page before learning anything.

To sidestep this design mistake, start with the essential need-to-knows and be mindful about how much content you’re sharing at once. Great UX is when users can get started with a new product intuitively, without too much learning at the outset.

8. Including unresponsive design elements

One of the most frequently discussed responsive design mistakes is designing with desktop computers in mind and overlooking mobile. But these days, the majority of UX designers understand the importance of mobile-friendly design.

Nowadays, a bigger problem is designers who only keep mobile design in mind. Mobile traffic accounts for about 50% of web traffic, but that means another 50% still comes from other sources like desktops and tablets.

Often, mobile-focused design elements leave a lot to be desired when viewed on large screens. A quick peek at Instagram on your desktop computer is a great example. The large amounts of white space, poor balance, and tiny icons make it clear that this interface wasn’t designed with a large screen in mind.

#Instagram’s UI looks great on mobile but falls short when viewed on a desktop computer. Img source: Hotjar Instagram
Instagram’s UI looks great on mobile but falls short when viewed on a desktop computer. Img source: Hotjar Instagram

Great UX design is responsive no matter what kind of device it’s viewed on. Strive to design for the medium and be sure that your product team takes the time to brainstorm and test what looks and works best on different screen sizes. If you get stuck, try using Hotjar Session Recordings and Feedback tools to identify user problems.

9. Forgetting to label icons

Some UX designers either forget to label icons or simply believe it isn’t necessary, partly due to minimalist design trends.

Not labelling icons is a mistake for two main reasons:

  1. Commonly used icons like hearts, checkmarks, or smiley faces mean different things on different websites, which can confuse users.

  2. Overly detailed, novel, or complicated icons can be unclear so users have to spend unnecessary time and energy figuring out what they mean.

It’s also worth noting that unlabeled icons reduce your product inclusivity

The solution to this error is simple: words and images together are a powerful force, so make sure your icons are labeled.

When a user clicks a button or a link on your website, they’re trusting that you’ll provide them with the information you say you will.

For instance, if a button on your website says, 'Click here to learn more about our pricing,' it should lead to your pricing page and nowhere else. Not a registration page to sign up for a free trial, not a contact information form…just information about your pricing.

Likewise, stay true to your word when it comes to different kinds of content. If you’ve got a link on your webpage that says it leads to a video, make sure that’s really the case. Don’t mislead users and offer them a blog post or a landing page when you’ve promised a video.

Be meticulous about checking your links and buttons to ensure they deliver exactly what they promised.

UX tools like Hotjar Heatmaps and Recordings help identify problematic links and buttons. Watch out for users clicking on something and then dropping off right away, which can indicate frustration or disappointment with where the link took them. Also, be mindful of rage clicks, which are a common indicator of poor UX and broken links.

Avoid these frequent design mistakes and watch your UX soar

UX design mistakes are a normal part of the design process, but that doesn’t make them a fait accompli. Instead of waiting for UX blunders to just happen, anticipate and avoid them before they cause user frustration.

Informing yourself about UX problems and solutions is a great place to start. Take note of the biggest mistakes, consider whether you’ve made them, and take action to resolve them if necessary.

Remember, excellent UX is at the heart of any product. Prioritize addressing UX mistakes, and your business and users will reap the benefits.

Sidestep UX design mistakes with Hotjar

Sign up for a free Hotjar account, uncover valuable user insights, and take a proactive approach to creating optimal UX

FAQs about UX design mistakes