5 UX Design Mistakes That Are Killing Your Retention Rates

Mistakes happen, but a bad user experience could cost you big time.

What happens when Uber doesn’t load fast enough? You open Lyft. The worst-case scenario is the users go directly to a competitor – which is why you need to make sure they are happy. But what exactly keeps your users coming back for more? Truth be told, there’s no secret sauce when it comes to effective app design, but there are some general patterns to steer clear of.

UX design mistakes to avoid

According to Amplitude, the average app loses 77 percent of its daily active users in just three days after installing it. This creates a big hurdle for app companies because the best way to attract new users is to keep your current users. In order to know what you should be doing, it’s important to know what not to do. Check out these five user experience mistakes to avoid no matter what.

1. Packing it in

Information overload is real. You have to gently guide your users through the journey, the keyword here is gently. While fewer clicks are very much appreciated, users can quickly become overwhelmed with too much information. When a user can’t quickly find what they are looking for, frustration and mild panic sets in and they bounce, probably to another app or site to answer their question. On mobile, users tend to scan content, which creates a problem for information-intensive apps.

This ad for Google Podcasts itself is a lot to look at… but imagine trying to find the next binge-worthy podcast by just looking at the cover art. There’s too much going on here for the user to know which action to take. If they click on the cover, does it start playing audio or does it take them to an information page to learn more? Or, should they scroll down the page to the “For You” section. Anticipating and answering these types of questions through good design is key.

The Fix: Create a visual hierarchy. If you have a lot of content, you have to tell your user where to look first. Visual hierarchies put the focus on actionable items and headlines to give your user a jump start.

2. Forgetting the feedback loop

Your customers should be your greatest asset. They know your product inside and out, and it’s important to listen to them when they have feedback. Chances are there are others experiencing the same frustration.

The Hulu mobile app has an account tab at the bottom, with this less than helpful messages for their users. This page would be a great place to ask users for feedback, not leave them with a bad taste in their mouth. If I was trying to upgrade my plan and landed on this screen, I’d think twice about it.

The Fix: Build a forum. User-generated content like reviews can help your brand immensely – even negative reviews. Promote positive reviews and take constructive feedback to better your offering.

3. Assuming intent with iconography

Icons are a great way to declutter navigation menus, but they can also lead to a lot of unnecessary confusion. There are some obvious icons that are easy for users to understand, such as an arrow to take users back to the previous page or a gear icon for settings. But things can go wrong and when they do, your users will be clicking through your app trying to make sense of it.

While the overall layout is clean, this icon on Google Translate is unclear. The accompanying camera and microphone icons are easy for the user to understand what action to take next. This squiggly line icon is used to allow the user to draw their input for translation. 

The Fix: Label your icons. For consistency, label all of your icons – even the ones that are self-explanatory. If this makes your navigation menu clunky, then think of ways to reorganize and combine items. Prioritize the most common next steps and go from there.

4. Creating too many complex layouts

Another way apps can overwhelm their users is by using complicated layouts. If your customer has to ask “Where do I start?” that’s an issue. It’s important to create familiarity through patterns so that your layouts are intuitive to use. 

Habit Tracker, in theory, is supposed to make your life easier by helping you create good habits and squash bad ones. These complex screens, with tiny font and an explosion of color, are overwhelming. Furthermore, every time a user clicks into a new screen, the have to reset and comprehend a completely different layout. 

The Fix: Spend time wireframing. I mean really spend the time. Crafted early on in the design process, these ‘blueprints’ help designers decide what goes where within each and every screen of your app, to quickly discover and build out patterns.

5. Requiring long forms

Forms, in general, are a big barrier to entry, but long forms can turn people off your brand completely. It shows a lack of empathy for your user, at the same time you’re getting ahead with all the data they enter. This includes sign up forms – all you really need to require is an email and a password. The extra information is unnecessary, plus users can go into their admin settings and fill it in later for a more personalized experience.

There are instances when long forms are necessary, like this PayLane credit card form. However, you could have removed a few of these requirements – and even better, labeled them. It’s also important to keep in mind that if a user clicks onto the ‘Card number’ box, a number keyword should pop up instead of the traditional qwerty keyword.

The Fix: Follow up with your users. If you want more information from your users, asking for it later with follow up emails and surveys is a great touchpoint. This will make your customers feel engaged, instead of annoyed.

Experience is everything

It’s simple. No matter the use case, your users will stick around if you’re delivering on your promise and offering a great experience.

Read more about what UX designers do and what skills you’ll need to master to become one of the best in the business.

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