Bad design always irks me. Knowing user experience (UX) design and what makes a good user interface (UI) gives me mixed feelings. On one hand I know what to look for and can appreciate when I see good design; on the other hand, when I see or experience bad design it drives me crazy. It’s like when you first learn Photoshop and then can tell where the software was used (and what tool) when looking at a picture.

That experience can probably be translate to a lot of fields actually. Once you learn to drive a car you realize that nobody (except of course, yourself) knows how to drive. I digress.

Here’s some UI and UX issues that you should be aware of and avoid committing .

Icons don’t make sense


At the site Cucumbertown they made custom icons for their website like the one above which ended up confusing users. They wrote about their mistake and pointed where else this common error happens.

Remember to always use what users would already be familiar with. There is no need to reinvent what already works.

Useless dialog boxes
OK Cancel

OK/Cancel is the worst. Next time you encounter a dialog box like this just think about how confusing this can be. After like 20 years of popular GUIs the number of OK/Cancel interfaces are finally decreasing.


Pop-ups and dialog boxes always need to be clear, if they aren’t you are just befuddling your user. bad communication just bothers everybody and gets in the way.

Buttons should always have an action associated with them to ensure clarity of what’s about to happen. This gives user something hey can better understand.

Dark Patterns

This is something everyone will want to be at least aware of as it impacts designers and consumers in different ways. Designers may be asked to exploit these tricks while as a user of the products you may get tricked.

I hadn’t heard of the term ‘dark patterns’ until recently, so if it’s new to you too check out this brief description:

A dark pattern is a user interface carefully crafted to trick users into doing things they might not otherwise do, such as buying insurance with their purchase or signing up for recurring bills. Normally when you think of “bad design,” you think of the creator as being sloppy or lazy — but without ill intent. Dark patterns, on the other hand, are not mistakes. They’re carefully crafted with a solid understanding of human psychology, and they do not have the user’s interests in mind.

It pretty much sounds like malicious design and is broken down into a few categories:

  • Trick questions
  • Forced continuity
  • Misdirection

The above and more information can be found in the Verge article on deigns meant to trick you. It’s a long but worthwhile read because it provides multiple examples in multiple contexts.

Some of the dark pattern design choices come from the end goals of the product. THe end goals can be user conversion or it can be keeping users tied to a service they may not actually want. These dark patterns are important to be conscious of particularly when designing freemium games (true you can exploit these ideas but please don’t).