When you start in the web design and software industry, you might forget the end game. You are designing a product for the end-users who you don’t know. But it is important to look at your designs from the perspective of another potential visitor, or rather a stranger. This will help you see things that you might fail to see while creating the design. It will help you create a completely different approach that will be more focused on the end-user perspective. The mission of a web designer is to create an engaging experience that will help the target audience in getting what they are looking for. During this process, the designers mostly focus on aesthetics and they end up following a generalistic design trend or pattern. Once you get distracted by the common UX design trends, you are sure to make mistakes. The reason is, most of the common UX design trends are inappropriately deployed.
When it comes to web designing, we do not want to learn things; we just want to do things. Most of the web designers focus on the visual appeal and they end up sacrificing usability. They presume that a “wow” moment is powerful enough to engage the user for a long time. As a UX designer, it is imperative to remember that if the users have a hard time understanding the UI, then the website will have a skyrocketing bounce rate. According to a quote made by Kate Runner, “ugly but useful trumps the pretty but pointless”, thus, the key is to create the right design that will have a balance so that it not only looks aesthetically pleasing but it also adds value. That being said let us have a look at the actual designers’ mistakes in 2021.
1. Large, fixed headers - a strict no
The first mistake that most of the web designers make is creating large and fixed headers. More and more tall sticky headers are seen on websites. Navigation menus with a fixed position and “branding blocks” take up a lot of space. They stick to the top of the browser window and then block the content as it scrolls below them. There are some headers on the big-brand websites and those are more than 150 pixels in height. This is not necessary. The fixed elements like sticky headers will have real benefits, but web designers need to be careful while using them.
If you have plans to opt for the sticky nav header, then it is better to test with few users. A common mistake is to go overboard with the sticky nav header with the content. With a fixed header, the browsing will be comfortable for the visitors. If you cannot find the right balance, it might result in leaving a small amount of room for the main content, thus, resulting in claustrophobic site experience. Sometimes with a simple workaround in CSS, you can make the sticky header a little bit more transparent. People will be able to see the content as they scroll and this makes the content area feel more substantial.
There is no doubt that a lot of users will be checking the website through their mobile devices. Thus, instead of a fixed header, it is better to opt for responsive design techniques. It will help you in designing different solutions for different platforms.
2. Get rid of the thin/light fonts
At present, the light fonts are in trend in most of the websites and mobile applications. With advanced screen technology and enhanced rendering, a lot of designers are choosing light fonts. Yes, they are elegant, trendy and clean. But the thin typefaces will cause usability issues and hamper the UX. The end goal of all text present on a website is to be legible and the thin type will affect the readability. Not all visitors will check the website on a display where the light fonts will be prominently visible. Some light fonts are challenging to read on an iPhone or an iPad that comes with a retina display.
Thin and light fonts indeed look trendy. But they should not only look good. The text should be legible as well. For the proper contrast and legibility, the designers need to focus on offering better combinations in design, size, weight, and color. It will be good if you can test the legibility of the fonts on different devices and screen sizes. Thin and light fonts might look good on expensive devices. But you need to remember that most of the end-users make use of standard monitors/devices that have substandard displays. Thus, the best practice is to check how the fonts look on major devices like laptops, desktops, iPhones and Android smartphones.
3. Scroll hijacking
A lot of websites try to follow Apple's concept of scroll hijacking, high-resolution images of different products and parallax effects. Remember that Apple has its target audience, a unique concept and exclusive content for the audience. Similarly, every website has got its unique target audience, its unique issues and they require tailored solutions that cater to those issues. While borrowing trendy UI patterns, the best idea is to create a prototype website or mobile application and test it on real-world users for avoiding any UX issues. A simple usability test will determine whether the implementation of a scroll hijack is feasible or not.
4. Do not opt for Carousels
Carousels are a slideshow that offers a variety of rotating content. This is a very common feature on the web. Some of the smartphones offer carousels as well. Yes, they can be useful at times, but carousels have multiple usability issues. According to Nielsen Norman Group, a lot of people immediately scroll down the large images and miss the information. It negatively impacts the UX because visitors will not see the valuable content in the rotating slides.
If you want to implement carousels, then do not just use it for decoration. Most of the times there are no arrows for controlling the carousels. They come with slide indicator dots. Thus, they have low discoverability, low contrast and lack a "large-enough" tappable area. The small clickable targets lead to poor UX and a website visitor will quickly exit from the website. If done in the right way, a carousel can engage users because of the striking images. The thing is, you have to make the indicators prominent and create labels to signify what the images represent. Also, if the images can have clickable links instead of being there for pure decoration, then it will be more engaging.
5. Poorly designed CTA (call to action) buttons
A call to action button can make or break any conversions on the website. It is extremely crucial. A lot of designers make the mistake of not bothering about the CTA buttons. Thus, it doesn't influence the user in taking the final action. Also, it is important to place the CTA buttons in a place where it is visible for the users. A properly designed call to action button will drive the visitors to perform the final purchase. Thus, a designer should not be reluctant about a well-designed call to action button.
6. Slow website load time
There is a difference between a "well-designed" website and an "optimally designed" website. A website might look beautiful but it doesn't matter if it takes too long to load. If your website is taking more than 3 seconds to load then it is not optimally designed. Users these days are not patient enough to wait for more than 3 seconds for a website to load. According to Google, 53% of the visitors leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. Thus, make sure that too many design elements are not making the website slow.
7. No properly designed website for mobile
Nowadays it is very important to have a mobile-friendly website. People these days mostly use their mobiles to browse the internet. If your website is not customized to be mobile-friendly, then you are missing out on a majority of your target audience. To reap the benefits from the huge market of mobile users, it is imperative to offer a seamless end-user experience on mobile devices.