Game thinking from Adam Clare

Tag: user

UI and UX Mistakes to Avoid

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).

Some User Experience Design Pitfalls

First off, here’s some context as to what user experience (UX) is all about from this great introduction to UX by Smashing Magazine:

Those who work on UX (called UX designers) study and evaluate how users feel about a system, looking at such things as ease of use, perception of the value of the system, utility, efficiency in performing tasks and so forth.
UX designers also look at sub-systems and processes within a system. For example, they might study the checkout process of an e-commerce website to see whether users find the process of buying products from the website easy and pleasant. They could delve deeper by studying components of the sub-system, such as seeing how efficient and pleasant is the experience of users filling out input fields in a Web form.

Making a UX plan can be a cumbersome process or a very easy on, it all comes down to how you approach the task. Some common mistakes that people make can be found in these five UX research pitfalls by Elaine Wherry. Here’s a snippet from the first point:

pitfall 1: it’s easier to evaluate a completed, pixel-perfect product so new products don’t get vetted or tested until they’re nearly out the door.

Months into a development cycle and just days before the release date, you realize that the UI has serious flaws or missing logic. If you’re lucky, there is enough flexibility in the schedule to allow grumbling engineers to re-architect the product. More likely, though, the PM will push to meet the original deadline with the intent to fix the UI issues later. However, “later” rarely happens. Regardless, everyone wonders: how could these issues have been caught earlier?

Still confused, here’s an OK presentation on what UX design is all about:

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