8 Myths Busted: Misconceptions in UX Design

User Experience includes aspects such as usability, functionality and overall satisfaction from usage. Take a look at some common myths about UX here.

Napoleon was short. Sharks don’t get cancer. Goldfishes have a three-second memory.

If you believe or have believed in any of these, you have been influenced by myths. It’s the kind that has shaped human thought throughout history. Though ancient societies revered the power of myths, this concept stems from genuine technological misconceptions today. Being distinct from contentious ‘myths’ such as vaccines are dangerous, the earth is flat, and climate change denial.

This article debunks widely held UX myths that designers have to contend with. It explores how each might impact your UX design plans, and what you can do to avoid them.

1. UX and UI are interchangeable

A customer’s experience is very similar to traveling. The journey is as important as the destination. If either is found lacking, then it ruins the overall experience. Similarly, modern information architecture requires both UI and UX to serve distinct. However collaborative functions when combined lead to an acceptable user experience.

A user interface (or UI) refers to the point of interaction between a user and a device or platform. This can involve touch screens and buttons on a website. Therefore, UI design addresses the service’s “look” and visual design. So that to ensure the user stays on the website. It is similar to the ‘destination’ in the analogy above.

User experience (or UX) design refers to the entire experience via a given platform (i.e. websites, applications, etc.). The best UX frameworks are those that instill a desire in users to want to return. Thus, serving as the ‘journey’ in the analogy above.

A good UX design should be addressing:

  • Usefulness:
    Am I useful? Do I serve a major purpose?
  • Strategy:
    Am I envisioning a good customer experience? Do I need to realign my goals?
  • Aesthetics:
    Does my website look good? Do I think customers would want to return?
  • Usability:
    Can people understand my website interface? Do I need to make adjustments?

The answers to these questions can vary significantly. However, they clarify one key aspect. Which is that UX design and UI design are distinct but conjoined qualities.

2. UX Design is All About the User

This may seem odd, but designs that are too ‘user-centric’ can be damaging to the organization instead of helpful.

This does not mean that user-centered design should be abandoned altogether. However, it suggests that overly optimized designs for the “digital user experience” will not succeed. Thus not being able to achieve the company’s business goals.

Steve Jobs once said, “It is not the customer’s job to know what they want.”

Jobs, like many others, was aware that users- in terms of UX- generally don’t know what they’re looking for. Hence, it is important to make sure that consumer opinions do not forge myopic UX designs. Which are often largely devoid of the designer’s own creativity. The S.M.A.R.T framework is a helpful way for UX designers to brainstorm different angles. They can be easily targeted with their designs.

User experience research is still imperative and yields numerous benefits on its own. This is why companies should not cease to invest in different types of user research methods. However helpful it might be, its findings should not be treated as gospel.

3. The More Choice, The Merrier the User

Research has shown that limiting the choice of an individual is likely to not only make them purchase an item at a store. It also is more likely to leave them satisfied with their overall decision.

Having choices is usually good, isn’t it? It makes us feel like we’re in control. However – especially in terms of UX design – we could not be more wrong. Having numerous choices can tend to confuse users and trigger a phenomenon called decision paralysis. It is characterized by the user overthinking their decisions and failing to respond at all. This causes users to leave your website or application in search of one that does not oversaturate their options.

As far as websites go, Google is a great example of a website that does not force the user to choose too much. It has a simple search bar with two options and a small icon in the corner to access its further features. Google is currently the most popular search engine in the world, with over 70% market share.

4. Usability Testing is Optional

In 1992, Robert Virzi claimed that only 5 users are required to uncover problems associated with a UX. The goal was to show how businesses waste time and resources on usability testing that could be better spent elsewhere.

Comparative Usability Evaluation (CUE) studies have shown that this is not the case. Often, even teams of 15 people could only report about 60% of the issues related to the UX.

First thing’s first: what is usability testing?

In simple words, usability testing is the process of requesting users to complete specific tasks. The process is accompanied and observed by researchers or analysts. This is to identify user problems, which are then fixed for a better user experience at launch.

Qualms with user testing arise from the premise that user testing is a waste of time and resources. This is due to the ineffective and time-consuming usability testing methods. It must be noted that usability testing can only be viewed as “unnecessary” if the defects found are not dealt with.

One explanation of the upsides of usability testing is highlighted by Digital Loom’s design of the NEFA website. Digital Loom was largely on the fence about testing and only decided to do so quite late into the process. They discovered that the ‘donate’ button on the website was not visible to most users. This meant causing significant damage to the website as well as losing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Websites that are concerned about the time it will take to conduct usability testing should try implementing usability testing heuristics to help cut costs.

5. UX Research is Easy

Man using several computer screens.

It is often cited that UX research is inexpensive and can be done easily and quickly.

Though it is possible to conduct UX research on a budget, the reality is that its costs can range from $48,000 to $60,000. It can be quite difficult, especially for small web-based organizations with limited resources.

These costs exist for a myriad of reasons. User experience research is a complex process. For websites with high amounts of traffic, user tracking can be extremely difficult. Several issues end up neglected if they are not properly monitored or invested in.

The bigger issues arise when UX designers need to take into account the needs of different users that visit their pages. Users have unique needs, and acknowledging them all is not simple. In fact, even Google Analytics research can be wrong or misrepresentative. This issue is further exacerbated by an array of factors that need to be taken into account when making websites on different platforms. Such as screen size, resolution, browser compatibility, and the like.

The information architecture behind UX designs is not simple. Hence making sure that it is able to cater to every user’s needs comes at a cost.

6. UX Benefits from Less Clicks

The 3-click rule is a popularly known usability standard in the world of UX. It means that doing a task on any platform should not take more than three clicks.

This might have been a useful benchmark a couple of decades ago, however, today’s tasks involve increasing levels of complexity. Most cannot be done in just three clicks and many users are aware of that.

A study showed that in tasks that ranged from as few as three clicks to as high as twenty-four. There was little to no variance in the levels of satisfaction that users experienced. This is a key finding for UX designers, who are fixated on reducing the number of clicks on their websites. So much that they make trade-offs with more important UX design elements, such as simplicity.

If including clicks helps users make fewer mistakes, it is more likely to help you get users to return to your website or application. Additional clicking is not a time-consuming or exhausting task. Therefore it is best not to jeopardize your page’s success by underestimating the effort required to move from one webpage to another.

7. White Space is Bad Web Design

White space, or negative space, is commonly considered to be a ‘waste’.

People that truly understand web design and user analytics know this to be untrue. Not only does white space have the ability to make a design look easier on the eye, but it has the benefit of allowing for better readability. Research conducted by Wichita State University showed that white space improves reading comprehension.

It also drew attention to what the UX designer feels is an important element on the page. As it helps them guide the user to what they want them to see. This is in fact useful because too many items on a webpage can distract from its intended purpose. Thereby resulting in users missing the intended destination.

This is particularly useful for mobile applications. Where a large amount of content on small screens can often be dissuading and unpleasant to view. A good example of the use of negative space is Dribble Analytics. This has a clean mix of fewer elements with empty spaces between and below them.

8. Web Users Read A Lot, Or Not At All

‘Either you’re a reader, or you’re not ‘is one of the most common myths on the internet.

The problem with this is that we intuitively know it isn’t true. That is because, even if everyone has a preference for a particular medium, many users will inevitably read more than the average person.

Thought patterns like this lead to harmful UX design practices. Such as the creation of websites with minimal content and pages that do not scroll. Websites that are too minimalist can confuse users and fail to deliver their messages properly. As an outcome, users abandon their search.

Not only is infinite scrolling now a common navigation practice, but studies show that users are more than happy to scroll through pages without complaint. Several websites use this to ensure that load times are minimized and users are engaged.

Prominent examples include Facebook and Twitter. Which are the biggest players in social media today and have infinitely scrolling feeds with a large amount of written content.

We hope you’re not questioning all that you’ve ever learned about UX. It is in fact quite achievable to design a website or app with an experience that users enjoy.

What is good UX?

Creating an enjoyable UX, despite any unintended impression, is actually not that difficult. That is only if the underpinnings of the process are considered and implemented.

To do this, try to focus your attention on the elements that will deliver your intended message instead of pandering to what users might want to see. Make sure that your UX design provides a balance with the options it presents to users. While also ensuring that your UX is well tested before release. Next up be willing to invest in UX research to understand your users better. All while ensuring that the UX design is supported by a simple framework. Finally, make sure that your content is representative of the website, and is not premised on users choosing to skim read it.

The top industry players didn’t always have the deepest wallets. They too figured out how to create a rich and rewarding user experience that bypassed the UX myths. Thus so can we.


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