Overcoming The Five Key Reasons for Poor User Experience

Product designer concentrating on his new design
Damian Headshot
Damian Rees
June 11, 2023
5 min read
Poor UX
User Research
Product Strategy

Despite the increasing buzz around 'User Experience' or 'UX' in the tech and business world, many of us still find ourselves frustrated with products that offer a less-than-stellar experience. So, what's the hold-up? Why, in an age where UX is the talk of the town, do poor user experiences persist? Let's dive in to unpack the top five reasons and, more importantly, look at what we can do to address them.

1/ Misunderstanding or Ignoring UX

The Problem

Some teams don't fully understand what UX is all about or don't give it the attention it deserves. They may be focused on creating the best product they can and overlook how users will interact with that product.

In the Nielsen Norman Group's report on key UX concepts, one of the points highlighted is that UX is often poorly understood, even within the industry. This lack of understanding often leads to neglect of user needs and a poor overall experience.

Windows 8 

Windows 8 start screen
Windows 8 Start Screen - Image from Wikipedia

When Microsoft launched Windows 8, they made significant changes to their interface, replacing the traditional Start menu with a full-screen display of apps. This drastic change was met with heavy criticism from users who found the new interface confusing and less intuitive. This caused some in the tech community to question whether the team fully understood the value of UX. The backlash was so severe that Microsoft returned to the traditional Start menu design in their next version, Windows 10. This case study serves as a reminder that significant design changes should be user-centred and thoroughly tested.

The Fix

Education is key. Hold team workshops or sessions to discuss the importance of UX. Explain how it's not just about the look and feel of a product but about making sure it works smoothly and meets the user's needs. Share examples of products with good and bad UX and discuss the differences. Remember, a product with top-notch UX can be a game-changer for customer retention and conversion rates.

As Don Norman, the cognitive scientist who coined the term 'User Experience,' says, "No product is an island. A product is more than the product. It is a cohesive, integrated set of experiences." It's not just about aesthetics but ensuring it works seamlessly and meets the user's needs. Sharing examples of good and bad UX can open a meaningful dialogue.

2/ Not Enough User Research

The Problem

Some teams design products based on what they think users want, rather than actual user feedback. This can lead to a product that looks great on paper but doesn't quite hit the mark in reality.

The User Experience Professionals Association's (UXPA) salary survey often cites the lack of user research as a common complaint among UX professionals. Without adequate research, it's difficult to design a product that meets user needs.

Snapchat Redesign 

Screenshot of Snapchat redesign in 2018
Snapchat redesign in 2018 - Image from TechCrunch

In 2018, Snapchat rolled out a major redesign that was meant to simplify the app and attract a broader user base. However, users found the new design confusing and frustrating, leading to a petition for Snapchat to return to its previous design and a significant drop in stock prices. The takeaway here is that user feedback should guide design decisions, and it's crucial to understand your users' needs and preferences before implementing significant changes.

The Fix

The user's voice should guide your product's development. Invest time in understanding your users' behaviours, needs, and preferences. Use surveys, interviews, or usability tests to gather data. It might feel time-consuming, but the insights gained can be invaluable in making your product truly user-friendly.

According to research from the Nielsen Norman Group, user-centred design can lead to a staggering 83% increase in conversions. Collect data through surveys, interviews, and usability tests to create a truly user-friendly product.

3/ Limited Resources

The Problem

Sometimes, there's just not enough money or people to devote to UX. Designing a great user experience requires an investment of time and money. This can be particularly tough for smaller businesses or startups, where every penny counts and everyone is juggling multiple roles. As a result, UX may be neglected in favour of other, seemingly more urgent, business needs.

In the 2020 Design Census by AIGA, many respondents reported a lack of time and resources as a significant barrier to good design.

As UX expert Jakob Nielsen explains, "Even the best designers produce successful products only if their designs solve the right problems. A wonderful interface to the wrong features will fail." Therefore, small, strategic changes can significantly enhance the UX.

Slack's Early Days

Screenshot of Slack UI in 2015
Slack Screenshot from 2015 Image from Sprint.ly

In the early days of Slack, the team didn't have a dedicated UX researcher or designer. However, they made user experience a priority and made use of affordable tools and methods like customer feedback and usability testing to guide their design decisions. This approach proved successful, and Slack is now known for its intuitive and user-friendly design.

The Fix

  1. Consider bringing in a UX consultant or freelancer who can provide expert advice without the cost of a full-time hire.
  2. Explore free or low-cost UX tools and resources available online.
  3. Remember that small, incremental changes can often lead to big improvements in UX.

4/ Communication Breakdown

The Problem

In many companies, different departments operate in silos, with little communication or collaboration. This can result in a disjointed user experience, where the design, development, marketing, and customer service aspects of the product don't align.

In the UX Design in Business Survey by UserZoom, poor communication and lack of collaboration between teams were cited as significant challenges in the UX design process.

Jared Spool, a recognised leader in the field of usability, famously said, "Good UX doesn't happen by accident. It is the result of careful planning, analysis, investment, and continuous improvement." By working together, you can create a unified user experience.

Nokia's Decline 

Photo of a buliding with Nokia in capital letters at the top
Nokia HQ - Photo by M. Rennim on Unsplash

Once a market leader, Nokia failed to adapt to the smartphone revolution. One reason often cited is the siloed working culture at Nokia, where different departments were working separately and not sharing information effectively. This lack of collaboration and communication led to a disjointed user experience and ultimately contributed to Nokia's decline in the mobile market.

The Fix

  1. Foster collaboration and open communication across your team.
  2. Regularly hold cross-departmental meetings where everyone can share updates and ideas.
  3. Use project management tools to track progress and ensure everyone is on the same page.

A unified team will create a unified user experience.

5/ Quick Wins Over Long-term Success

The Problem

Companies often prioritise quick wins over long-term success. They may be more focused on getting a product to market quickly rather than taking the time to design an optimal user experience. This short-term focus can lead to poor UX, as key aspects may be rushed or overlooked.

In McKinsey & Company's The Business Value of Design report, a short-term focus on product launch rather than long-term usability was identified as a common issue.

BlackBerry 

Photo of a hand holding a BlackBerry phone
BlackBerry Phone - Photo by Thai Nguyen on Unsplash

BlackBerry was a leader in the early smartphone market, known for its physical keyboard and secure email service. However, BlackBerry failed to anticipate the shift towards touchscreens and app-centric mobile experiences. In an attempt to catch up, BlackBerry rushed the release of their touchscreen device, the BlackBerry Storm, without adequately addressing usability issues. This resulted in a poor user experience and further eroded BlackBerry's market share.

The Fix

Remember that a product's success isn't just about getting it out the door quickly. It's about delivering a product that users love and want to keep using. So, take the time to properly test your product, gather user feedback, and make necessary improvements. Your users—and your bottom line—will thank you.

As per the Google UX Playbook, reducing the complexity of a registration process can increase conversion rates by up to 20%. Take the time to thoroughly test your product, gather user feedback, and make necessary improvements.

Conclusion

In conclusion, while challenges in UX exist, they're not insurmountable. With focus, collaboration, and commitment to understanding your users, you can develop a product that not only functions well but provides an exceptional user experience. 

As Steve Jobs once said, "Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works." Make your design work seamlessly for your users, and success will follow.

Please share this article with your team, discuss it, and let it spark new ways to enhance your product's UX. As the old adage goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The journey to excellent UX starts with understanding and addressing the common hurdles that hinder the process.

Blue smile icon

Want more human-centred insights?

If you enjoyed this post, sign up for updates and exclusive insights on human-centred design

By subscribing you agree to with our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use
Amazing! Welcome aboard. Please check your email to confirm your subscription.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Latest Insights & Articles

We write about the importance of making products and technology more human.

Illustration of woman browsing an ecommerce store

The Secret Sauce of High-Converting E-commerce: Mastering Information Architecture

Master the unseen hero of e-commerce—Information Architecture—to boost sales and enhance user experience. From effective navigation to robust search systems, discover the keys to reducing cart abandonment and increasing ROI.
ecommerce
information architecture
ux
Illustration of a man using a laptop at home with a credit card in his hand

Making eCommerce More Human: Key Takeaways from our Recent Webinar

Explore key insights from our webinar on enhancing eCommerce success. Discover the importance of human-centric design, effective conversion narrative, the importance of storytelling, understanding customer behaviours, and learning from industry leaders like Amazon.
eCommerce UX
Customer Behaviour
Webinar
Young man experiencing cognitive load with his head in his hands

Reducing Cognitive Load for Better User Experiences

Reducing cognitive load is essential for successful SaaS products. It happens when the volume or complexity of information overwhelms users. By simplifying and organising information effectively, businesses can enhance UX, engagement, and retention.
Cognitive Load
User Experience
SaaS