Modern technology evolves at a rate that is difficult to comprehend, and successful designers and developers must remain hyper-vigilant in order to keep up with the latest trends and advances in UX, but even the best of us occasionally “miss the memo”.
This list of outdated UX design principles will help you determine whether your current design is where it should be and how to fix it if it isn’t.
Huge, Overwhelming Menus and Submenu Trees
Few UI elements can frustrate and confuse users more than a poorly designed, overwhelming menu tree. Creating intuitive pathways for users can be challenging – particularly when dealing with an expansive list of menu items. Many progressive designers are exploring alternatives to traditional drop-down, fly-out and otherwise “tiered” menus. Though the aforementioned menu styles work just fine when devised and implemented correctly, they can become quickly perplexing if they grow too large or lack logic in their architecture.
Getting users from Point A to Point B in as direct a line as possible can be a lot easier than most designers think. Two quick tips:
- See through the eyes of the users, or better yet, arrange user testing. Create tasks that involve menu exploration and carefully note subject responses that can help you develop the simplest and most effective menu possible.
- Think outside the box (or in this case, the bar). Remember that links to product features and pages can be placed in a variety of locations in the form of text, icons, images and buttons.
No ‘Bailout’ Option
One of the biggest challenges designers face is devising a UX that speaks to multiple demographics or generations concurrently. Something like a refrigerator, for example, will be used by people of practically every age group.
While the tech competence of these generations will vary, one thing definitely remains the same: everyone wants a bailout option. They want to quickly and easily go back and forth through the menu – or start over if they have to.
Don’t fail to include a built-in ‘Start Over’ button (or something similar) that’s easy to locate and even easier to access.
Inconsistency through ‘Tacked On’ Options and Upgrades
This concept is best illustrated through the story of Mr. X.
One year ago, MR. X developed the UI for a smartwatch. After the first prototype was reviewed internally, Mr. X was tasked with adding an optional heart rate monitor function. Two weeks later, Mr. X is asked to add a calculator function. Mr. X is building the plane while it’s being flown. For some products, this type of feature-chain can seem perpetual.
Over time, this continual ‘add-on’ focus to your user experience takes a toll on the overall design. It’s a principle many developers use because it saves time. However, the resulting inconsistencies ultimately detract from the UX rather than improving it.
Instead of living in a state of flux, plan ahead for additions, changes or upgrades. Sure – you may not know now what those upgrades or additions will be, but you can still design a foundation that makes rooms for those types of changes in the future. We all know technology is highly liquid. Build with this fact front-of-mind.
The best way to ensure a successful UX? Rely on a design principle that will never become outdated: focus on user-centric design. It’s sometimes easy to lose sight of the end-user when you’re in the midst of complex functionality design, budgets, stakeholder meetings and equipment options, but in the end, none of that matters unless the user is happy.