Bad user experiences and how to fix them

Standard Beagle
6 min readOct 17, 2022

Are you sure your product is free of bad UX?

How often do you come across bad user experiences (UX)? For example, bad UX could be a website where the navigation takes you a couple minutes to find what you’re looking for. Or maybe you bought a neat gadget, only to find yourself carefully reading through the manual because it didn’t work the way you expected it to.

People hold expectations on how to interact with a product, and it does matter whether the product is digital or physical. Ideally, we want this experience to be positive. In fact, a positive.

SaaS products should aim for a streamlined experience. However, many users continue to struggle with SaaS products with bad user experiences and user interfaces (UI). These negative experiences may be easily fixed. Studies have found that humans remember negative experiences in more detail than the positive ones. In this article, we will cover some common bad UX practices and how you can fix them.

Examples of bad UX:

  1. Information overload (Navigation, onboarding, drop downs)
  2. Lack of user control and freedom
  3. Auto-play
  4. Dark UX

Bad UX: Your product is overloaded with information

Information overload is common in B2B SaaS applications. B2B products often have a lot of data to manage, so it can be difficult to present all of its capabilities in a way that doesn’t overwhelm users, especially in their first time experience.

Too much information can hinder a user’s decision making process. In fact, offering too many choices can actually trigger negative emotions.

If we really want our users to complete a task, we have to help them make a decision. And we need to smooth out their path to completing a task.

Main actions in a B2B product should be clear and separate from any other sub-actions. Make sure to provide a clear hierarchy to action items.

Product onboarding is also a very crucial step to consider. Think of a product onboarding as a first handshake with someone. It’s a brief introduction where you provide a little about yourself. You would never keep holding on to someone’s hand to tell them your entire life story, would you? It’s not a race to get the user to know your product. Onboarding should be simple and concise, focusing on the basics. It’s not a place to showcase everything that you have to offer, but rather it is the time to provide information that is relevant to the user. After all, you don’t want to lose users during an onboarding process that was supposed to help them.

Dropdowns can also trigger information overload. Forcing users scroll endlessly to find a single menu item can quickly cause user frustration. When your menu list is so long it doesn’t fit the screen, we have a problem. You can improve troublesome dropdowns by providing a search function with auto-suggest, or auto-complete. You can find more on this topic (along with the benefits of a search functionality) in our recent article.

Check your product for information overload:

  • Does your product make it easy to focus on the next action?
  • Have customers consistently called and asked how to find something?
  • Are users clear on how to use your product?

Bad UX: Your product does not appear to give the user control and freedom

User control and freedom is one of the ten usability heuristics. Including this in your B2B product means that you provide users with the ability to undo or redo an action. Here are a few examples:

  • Allowing users to go back a step,
  • Allowing users to skip certain steps
  • Allowing users to cancel an action
  • Allowing users to save and come back to finish their action later.

Google Drive has a great example of providing user control and freedom. When users relocate or delete an item, it automatically shows the user what they did and gives them an option to undo the action.

Users who may have accidentally deleted or moved an item can see exactly what happened and go back.

A product’s “trash can” also provides the user control. If the user accidentally deletes a document, image or post, the user can restore the media by finding it in the trash. The action istemporary, not permanent.

Check your product for lack of user control and freedom

  1. Does your product allow the user to restore a deleted file or undo an action easily?
  2. Does your product allow the user to move freely or skip screens?
  3. Does your product allow a user to save and return to where they were in the application?

Bad UX: Automatically playing media

Auto-playing anything, whether it is a video, audio, or a marketing carousel is something that may seem like a good idea. Afterall, media catches user’s attention more than plain text. It’s more engaging, so businesses tend to rely on these tools.

However, as UX experts, we do not recommend auto-play in any shape or form. Most users find it annoying when the media starts playing automatically (NOT including functions like auto-save or auto-fill). Using auto-play means that we have made assumptions about the user.

It’s important to think about the user’s context. The user could be an area where they can not have volume on. Users who have cognitive disabilities may find media distracting or worse. The media may trigger seizures and other physical reactions. While there can be some benefits to auto-play, the disadvantages of them not being inclusive or accessibility-friendly weigh them out.

If auto-play video still seems like it would benefit you, make sure to:

  1. have it muted on default
  2. provide closed caption/transcriptions for all users
  3. offer an easy escape
  4. only play what is relevant to the user

Bad UX: Dark patterns

Dark UX or dark patterns are deliberate steps a design takes to deceive, conceal information, or attempt to trick users into an action.

Dark patterns are the antithesis of a user-centric design; rather than focusing on usable functionality, it deliberately focuses on misleading the user into choosing certain options over others. Most of the time, this won’t benefit the user but instead will leave them frustrated or cheated on, losing any trust they might have had.

Users will hunt down the option that they desire even if you hide it. What was supposed to be a simple user flow has become one frustrating obstacle course for them. If they have a choice, they may close your product to find an alternative.

Ways to improve? Don’t deceive users. Dark UX doesn’t pay. You don’t want to find yourself in the hall of shame for deceptive design.

Takeaways

To businesses, building out new features and capability can take priority over improving UX. However, remember the people who use your product. Focusing on their needs by improving the UX can make their experience of your product better. This can increase customer retention and ultimately lead to higher top-line revenue.

Originally published at https://standardbeagle.com on October 17, 2022.

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Standard Beagle

Award-winning UX agency helping B2B SaaS and health tech level up against competition to win customers through UX strategy, user research, and product design.