Common UX myths
UX myths and how to avoid them
User Experience (UX) design is the practice of building a product which is centred around the needs of the end user.
It combines research, analysis and testing to guide the design process so that your product provides a seamless customer experience.
Failing to apply this methodology to your web design can drive visitors away, damage your reputation and harm your bottom line. We’ve outlined some of the most common UX myths that repel web visitors, and what you can do to avoid them.
UX myth no. 1: people don’t scroll
There is a common misconception that people don’t scroll, so breaking a long page into multiple pages is a better way to present content online. However shorter pages create a disruptive experience by forcing the user to view several pages to get the information they need. The result? Visitors quickly lose their way, get frustrated and bounce off your site; not a desirable outcome for any website owner or business.
The truth is that scrolling has long been an accepted user behaviour with research as far back as 1998 revealing that users are perfectly willing to scroll.
Scrolling is also an accepted requirement to read content on smaller mobile screens. This coupled with the fact that social platforms all feature infinite scrolling means that long-scroll has now become a standard navigation pattern.
Bear in mind that with longer page content, there are certain design principles you should follow to keep the user interested. Present your key information at the top of the page and use hierarchical H1/H2 tags to grab the reader’s attention and help them identify whether your content is worth reading.
UX myth no. 2: all pop-ups are good
Ever experienced the irritation of one or more pop-ups on a single page that are difficult to close and prevent you from reading the page content? More than likely you got frustrated and left the site before you even identified whether the content answered your question. Pop-ups and overlays of this type are known as ‘intrusive interstitials’ and any website found guilty of presenting them on a mobile device will be demoted in Google search results.
There are certain exceptions to this rule. When used responsibly, pop-up formats that fulfil legal obligations such as cookie or age verification notices are perfectly acceptable.
Likewise, pop-ups that take up less of the screen (15% or less is recommended) are ok as long as they’re easy to dismiss. Other supported formats include timed overlays, such as a pop-up that appears when users have read your blog post, or one that is triggered by exit intent. Whatever format you choose, make it non-intrusive and use it sparingly.
Interstitials used on desktop won’t be penalised by Google, so some web owners choose to disable them on mobile format. This option should be used with caution though as intrusive ads that diminish your UX on desktop could be punished under future Google updates. You can learn more about pop-up dos and don'ts here.
UX myth no 3: web pages should be accessible in 3 clicks
A common UX myth is that people will leave your site if they can’t find the information they need in three clicks or less. For complex sites in large organisations such as universities and hospitals, libraries or e-commerce platforms, this belief is particularly problematic. It doesn’t provide the depth or structure required to place content logically, leading to overloaded top level pages that overwhelm the user and prevent scalability.
The truth is that the number of clicks affects neither satisfaction nor success rate. There is a wealth of usability studies that back this claim and the following graph from UIE further proves there is no correlation between the number of clicks and decreased levels of satisfaction:
Ease of navigation is more important than focusing on the ‘3-click rule’ so you shouldn’t waste time worrying about the number of clicks. Help your readers find the information they need by providing a logical site structure with descriptive links to keep them on the right track. With an efficient and effective navigation system, the number of pages required to find the desired content won’t be an issue.
UX myth no. 4: people read on the web
No - most people don’t read on the web! People are incredibly busy and have very short attention spans when it comes to reading online content. Rather than read word for word, most users will quickly scan a page to identify if your content is relevant. They will look for visual clues such as headings, bold text, bulleted lists and short sentences and paragraphs to help them determine a page’s relevance.
Given a typical user will only scroll about 50-60% of your article, it’s essential you provide scannable, concise content. Follow our advice on writing user-friendly content, and use the BBC as an example of how to present your content in a skim-friendly format. Their use of short, one-sentence paragraphs, bold text and bulleted lists makes the following article much easier to scan:
Need help designing your site so it meets user needs? Contact one of our experts today for further information on improving your UX and debunking these common myths!
Other articles that might be of interest:
- Web design that converts
- Common web design fails and how to avoid them
- 6 telltale signs your website needs a redesign
- How to write user-friendly content for the web
- How often should I update my website?