The 5 Biggest UX Myths and How to Compensate for Them

Every new project begins with an education. Just as designers need to learn all they can about a particular client and their goals, the client needs to understand what designers bring to the table, and how their experience informs the decisions they make. This is especially important when it comes to designing the user experience for each project.

UX is informed by testing, repeatedly and with a wide range of users, and will always provide value to the project at hand. Thankfully, the UX field has existed long enough that it has given us a ton of valuable information on how users interact with digital media, websites in particular.

The following is a list of the most common UX misconceptions I’ve encountered in building websites and apps, all of which have been dispelled by extensive user testing and research.

Myth #1: Users Don’t Scroll

They do. Study after study has revealed that users are very comfortable scrolling down a web page. In fact, they’re more likely to scroll down a long page than clicking through several pages in a series, as in a paginated article. A major data analytics provider reported that 66% of user attention is spent below the fold.

What This Means

Don’t be afraid to use space to tell your story. In the past, web design was often cluttered, attempting to get all relevant information above the fold. As long as the content is compelling, and the design is inviting, people will instinctively scroll down.

Myth #2: Slideshows Are an Effective Way to Show Content

They’re really not though. On the surface, they seem like a clever way to add interactivity to a page while also saving space, but they have an embarrassingly low click-through rate. A large study showed that only 1% of users interacted with a slideshow when presented with one, and most of them only did so on the first slide. Furthermore, several eye tracking tests have shown that users often skip over slideshow content entirely.

What This Means

Don’t bother with fluff content. Pinpoint your message and serve it up with confidence. If you want to tell a story, consider an image grid, a dynamic scroll, or even a video. Let’s use slideshows in the specific situations where they work well, like showing multiple views of a single object.

Myth #3: The Most Important Part of Your Website is the Homepage

Not so much. When web design was just taking off, homepages were often thought to be a virtual storefront. Many assumed that as long as the storefront was inviting, customers would find their way into the store. But websites don’t work that way. Users can enter a site from any page, and studies are showing that homepages are getting less traffic each year. Maybe users are catching on to the idea that a homepage is more of a marketing platform than a place for meaningful content.

What This Means

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. While it’s nice to have an inviting homepage, focus your design efforts on the pages where your most valuable content lives. I typically design the homepage in parallel with the most substantive subpage for this very reason.

Myth #4: Design is Decoration

Not when it’s done properly. This is a myth I used to believe in myself, at the beginning of my design career. But I soon learned that good design is more about function than art. Do the elements work well together? Do all the parts fit? The most accurate definition of design I have is “creative problem solving.” In this vein, design should not exist without content, else it runs the risk of being reduced to decoration. In the realm of web design, getting the most out of a designer means having final content ready at the outset. After all, that is the picture at the center of the frame, and only by having a content-first approach can the final piece work as a whole.

What This Means

Before starting any web project, know what needs to be said. Prepare content first, then use the design team as a medium for translating that content.

Myth #5: Your Website Needs to be Redesigned Every Few Years

But does it really? Maybe it’s a sign of our throwaway culture to junk our websites every two or three years, and do a top-to-bottom redesign. However, time and again we learn how much users hate change. The more practical approach to a tired website is to zero in on the aspects of it that aren’t working, and realign accordingly. The biggest websites in existence rarely do a complete overhaul, but rather make adjustments and corrections as user needs or business goals change. Think Google, YouTube, Amazon, and Apple. These sites don’t get replaced, but evolve in subtle and deliberate ways.

What This Means

Let your changing goals guide the scope of the design changes you make to your site. If you are upending your business model, then a complete redesign may be warranted. But if you are simply enhancing or improving your business, consider a more targeted strategy. This is a very good reason to think of your design team as an ongoing partner rather than a one-off production house.

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