7 common pitfalls of a novice UX designer and how to deal with them
Usability testing, UX wireframing, user empathy and more: guest blogger Lexie Lu tells UX design newbies how to rectify UX mistakes from day 1
When you start out in the web and software design industry, it’s easy to forget the end game. That is, you are designing a product for users you’ll never have the chance to know. But looking at your design through the eyes of another a potential visitor — a stranger, so to speak — is exactly what you must learn to do. Keeping this end game in mind can have an impact on how inexperienced designers face challenges, and ultimately helps them increase their expertise.
When you look at things this way, you see that you can’t just dive in and start building a design. You have to spend some time getting to know the target audience you are creating the UX for and what they will want out of the product.
It’s more complicated than it first seems. So, you’d be forgiven if you were to make a few mistakes along the way. Heck, there are so many mistakes you can make, you should probably expect something to happen during your first few projects. That doesn’t mean you can’t do your best to avoid them.
Here are several novice UX designer mistakes you might come across and advice on how to deal with them when they happen.
1. Choosing the wrong typography
We get it. You’re new at this and you want to experiment. You really want to push the limits of what you can come up with. But choosing an unorthodox typography — or font — is not the way to do it.
Choosing the wrong font can ruin even the greatest designs.
Want an example of what’s bad? It’s easy to spot a bad font choice, even if you can’t quite explain why.
The best way to avoid making a mistake with your typography is to test on a lo-fi or hi-fi prototype and follow these simple rules:
• Never use more than two or three different font families on a single project.
• Match the typography tone with the tone of the design and content.
• Pay attention to the thickness and contrast of a type, especially when background images are used.
• Make sure the font is easy to read.
If you want to spruce up your typography a bit, you can pair up a serif and sans serif font, but make sure they are similar in appearance. Otherwise, stick to sans serif to offer a more fluid reading experience.
Finally, test your font on different screen sizes and resolutions to make sure it’s visible no matter what device your users are browsing on.
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2. Not Optimizing a Design for Mobile
It is estimated that in 2017, over 63.4 percent of mobile phone users will access online content. So, it’s safe to say mobile is extremely important. Don’t forget about it when you sit down to hash out a UX design. Not optimizing a design for mobile can be a costly mistake, and failing to do so can lose you clients.
Always perform some kind of testing on a mobile device so you can get a feel for the user experience. Make sure your buttons and visual elements appear correctly and that they are the ideal sizes. Also, pay attention to navigation elements and whether or not they play nicely on smaller screens.
Is your UX design responsive and clean on mobile? Is the text readable and aligned properly? Can you access the same functions on mobile as you can on desktop?
3. Avoiding White Space
It’s easy to forget that certain elements need room to breathe, especially when you’re trying to cram a lot of information or graphics into a single space. Yet, the last thing any designer wants is for their design to appear cluttered. That’s why you should never be afraid of blank space, especially as a UX designer.
Make sure every element has enough padding to remain separate unless you specifically want something merged. If you have to, set up a grid so you can organize a design space more efficiently.
Don’t be afraid to play with your margins, adjusting size as necessary to provide enough space for the main elements of your design.
4. Using Too Many Effects
Visual effects are nice, especially when they work perfectly. But they require more resources to work most of the time, and they don’t always show up, especially on older devices. It’s okay to spruce up your design here and there, but never sacrifice the user experience to do so. If a particular effect is causing a fuss or you run into problems across different devices, just get rid of it. The whole point of UX design is finding a proper balance between the visual and hands-on experience.
5. Asking Too Much of Your Users
People are inherently lazy. The more you require of them, the less motivated and intrigued they’re going to be. In fact, a study conducted by Imaginary Landscapes showed that reducing a user input form from 11 fields to just four increased conversions by 120%. Try to limit the amount of information you are asking your users to provide. Lengthy forms and extended engagement may be more than they bargained for, which will scare them off. No UX designer wants their project scaring users off — and certainly not a novice.
This doesn’t apply to just forms either. Consider what kind of interactions you require for navigation, content viewing and general browsing. For example, do your UX elements require multiple clicks or interactions when there should only be one?
6. Using Too Much Color
Watch your color usage. You don’t want to end up with a flashy color palette or UX elements that clash. Poor color choices can make a design look cluttered and unprofessional. Oversaturated hues will strain the eyes of your users. Pairing colors improperly can even ruin a great design and make the experience less enjoyable for your audience.
93% of consumers look at visual appearance of a product, while 84.7% say the colors are the primary reason they buy something. If that seems a bit insane, consider this: research shows that most people make a subconscious decision about a product within 90 seconds of viewing it. Anywhere from 62% to 90% of that initial assessment has to do with color.
What do all these statistics tell you? Color is extremely important from a design perspective, so don’t screw it up.
Don’t use more than two or three colors for a design, and pair bright or vivid colors with more neutral ones to keep things on an even keel. Varying colors should remain separate, so pay attention to contrast. You don’t want two similar colors — like two blues — bleeding into one another. It can make things confusing and looks ugly.
7. Not Conducting Usability Testing
When you finally have a UX project put together, don’t forget to conduct a few usability tests. And don’t forget, while it’s okay to do some initial testing yourself, make sure you bring in a few outsiders to look at your design. Consider conducting your final tests with hi-fi prototypes for optimal feedback. Present these prototypes as if they were the real thing. This will help you iron out the last minute kinks and highlight any design flaws you may have overlooked.
One thing you’ll need to come to terms with as a novice is that you are not a perfect designer and you never will be. But it will be difficult for you to pick out the flaws in a design you created, especially if you’re fond of it. That’s exactly why you need an extra set of eyes. Always have people test out your design before you go live with it.
Lexie Lu is a freelance UX designer and blogger. She enjoys researching the latest web design trends, manages Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.