26 March 2019

Top 10 mistakes in Bad UX

Last Thursday, March 14, I had the pleasure of attending “T3chfest 2019” at the University Carlos III. I want to share with all of you the presentation that I liked the most: "BAD UX" by Almudena M. Castro (MásMovil), graduate in Fine Arts and Physics. I hope it’ll make you crack a smile, and maybe even teach you something.


Almudena started off with the following:

"We live surrounded by websites, applications, services... and, unfortunately, this means that we live surrounded by bad user experiences. To banish so much unhappiness from the world is the great task of designers, but not only that, this is a mission that must involve all of us: product managers, developers, QA, legislators (tougher penalties against painful websites) because, at the end of the day, we are all users.
Trying to define the profession of UX specialist... There is always that moment during dinner with the family when they ask, 'but what exactly do you do?’ Hmm... Designer? But then I would be lowering my salary by 50%, so I always reply with the following: "Do you know the Renfe website? Well, my job is to prevent it from happening again"."

To begin with, Almudena classified the different types of user effort: mechanical effort, visual effort and cognitive effort. “Mechanical effort is the 'least serious', and cognitive effort is the one that must be minimized to the maximum; the user does not like to think. Don't make your user think.”

Did you know there are about 1M UX Designers in the world? But how many websites are there? More than 200 million active. With so many websites there are many, many errors to analyze. But here are the 10 most common; as Almudena explains: “Questions that may seem basic at this point... until you see the Renfe website, reminding us that nothing is too obvious.”

1. Thinking you’re the same as your users (aka Mystic Syndrome). This is a common mistake: because you, UX Consultant, would act in a certain way, you assume that your user would also behave in the same way. But this isn’t always true--and also, nobody is "more user" than anybody else. Different behaviors can actually be the norm.

2. The average user: does not exist. "UX without data is useless. It’s necessary to collect data in UX, no way around it. Trying to make a prototype of an "average user" is to work in vain."

3. Clippy is trying to make you read: "Users don't read. If there's one place where illiteracy reigns, it's the internet. The user doesn't like to think... so don't make your user think. Thinking causes cancer.”

4. The unicorn: lives in an ideal world. "The UX Consultant assumes that the user will take into account the indications and have a 100% rational online behavior. And that has never happened, and will never happen."

5. The unicorn plus: users make optimal decisions. Here Almudena refers to the fact that the UX Consultant tends to think that the user will behave efficiently when pursuing a goal (see photo).

6. The click counter: "There is an idea that you have to limit the number of clicks, but it depends; clicks are a mechanical effort, and it is always better to save a cognitive effort. You have to avoid making the user think... (remember, thinking is cancer)."

7. Wanting to see the world burn (the Joker): Here, Almudena refers to two fundamental patterns of UX, and recognizes that she gets really uncomfortable when they are not respected.

Consistency - if you adopt a pattern, follow it (if the button to advance to the next page is yellow, it should be on the next page too, etc. do not change color suddenly if it is to fulfill the same function).

Convention - bear in mind the conventions (self-explanatory example in the photo).

8. Aesthetics do not matter (The Orc): incorrect. "An unsightly interface will require a visual effort from the user. Beauty is closely related to perceptual fluidity."

9. Dark patterns to deceive, trick, cheat the user: Try to deceive or hide information from the user, as in the case of web pages where there are 7 'download' buttons and you never know which one will really work.

10. Spam: We all know what spam is, it's a classic and there's not much to say... It is clear that it’s not OK to send something that the user has not asked for or does not expect.


To conclude, UX is part of our lives. We are all users after all, and it never hurts to know when and how we suffer the evils of bad UX while being fully aware of it. If you want to see the full talk, you can view it here: