If you’re just starting out your business and looking for ways to grow, then money is probably a bit tight at the moment.
You’re looking for ways to minimize costs – save a few dollars where you can. Most of the time, it means compromising on printing paper, no glitter pens and definitely no unicorn Frappuccinos on days you get stuck in the office.
Basically, you’re trying to cut down on everything that doesn’t allow you to see the results you want for your business right here and right now.
However, while skipping the caramel shot in your morning latte may make you see the dollar or two you’ve saved – it’s right there in your pocket – not all the ways you save money, in the long run, are that visible.
You need to invest to successfully start your own business, they said.
But no one says a thing that skipping to invest in creating a good user experience may cost you much more in the future unless you do it the right way.
Keep reading on to learn about some of the most expensive UI/UX mistakes in history – and see for yourself whether you can learn a few things you can apply to your own business!
*slurps unicorn Frappuccino*
“Skipping to invest in creating a good user experience may cost you much more in the future unless you do it the right way.”
Wait, what’s the deal with the Frappuccino?
Well, not much – except that somehow, it makes you feel nice and special, and creates a positive user experience. *and it’s good for getting you Instagram followers*
Everyone in the business world knows that they’ve got to come up with a good product to start a business.
However, not many are aware that if you want to get returning clients – the type of clients that make your business grow – you have to create and maintain a good user experience.
Even though now it might seem more appropriate to save money on the UX and instead focus on other things that will allow you to spread your name around – market research, sales, ads – ultimately, it may pay off more to do it the other way around:
Save all of that for later and focus on the user experience now.
“Focus on the user experience in the beginning.”
Oh good, my business is up and running – I don’t need UX!
Now, all Frappuccinos aside but this is where you’re wrong.
The UX – or UI – part of the game isn’t only about growing your business – actually, if you’re looking to build a brand of yourself, you’ll very likely have to constantly work on the UX and adapt to the needs of the market.
Let’s look at Starbucks again.
Would you buy their smoothies if they didn’t offer the wider straw for easier drinking?
Would you buy their hot coffee if they didn’t give you the zarf thing?
*yes, we googled and the paper thing you put on your cup is called a zarf*
Would you promote their products yourself – think Insta-worthy pictures here – if you didn’t like them?
Of course not! If you’d like to stay on top of your game, then you’ve got to improve your product all the time.
And this is exactly the part where things get tricky.
“If you’d like to stay on top of your game, then you’ve got to improve your product all the time.”
I can go wrong even if I constantly try to improve UX?
The user experience is a concept that includes plenty of trial and error all the time. However, sometimes the error part may mean millions of dollars or… something even more than that.
Anyway, the good part of the story here is that sometimes you can learn from other people’s mistakes before doing them yourself. And we can all agree we’d love to save a few extra millions on the side.
Here are what we believe might as well be some of the worst mistakes in the history of UX Design – though we’ve made sure to pull out a lesson for you out of each.
1. Minimalism isn’t always the best solution
If you ever needed an icon or two, you’ve probably headed over to Icons8, a free website that offers thousands of free icons. In fact, the guys over there are so nice, that they’ll even make you an icon themselves if you want it but they don’t have it.
Now you’re probably thinking – how can they possibly go wrong with that? They give people what they ask for!
Well, in an attempt to simplify the icon request for their users, they changed the website interface – the UI part – and saw a 47% reduction in the number of people using their icon-request service.
Here are some before and after pictures.
As you can tell, before they had a voting system going on – which worked pretty fine.
In all fairness, it may have looked a tiny bit more complicated on the first glance but actually, it felt more intuitive for their users to follow! Oh, and it encouraged them to scroll down the page and you know, interact.
Icons8 stated that they used this experience as a learning curve – not everything made to be simple always works.
And let us tell you – users absolutely hate when you make things hard for them.
“Not everything made to be simple always works.”
2. The customer isn’t always right
Surveys and online polls are a place from which UX designers often seek – and find! – the inspiration for change. However, while getting the opinion of your clients matters, what matters more is observing their behavior and seeing for yourself what feels natural to them.
Let’s take Walmart for example – they sure know a thing or two about relying too much on their customers’ opinion, since their sales plummeted by about $1.85 million once they tried to improve customer experience!
The thing is, they had a whole team working on creating a better user experience; naturally, the team made a survey asking customers whether they wanted less clutter in the stores.
Now, let’s be real here – if you ever did some shopping at Walmart, you’d be crazy to answer no to that.
However, their biggest mistake, in this case, was relying a bit too much on what their customers said – they didn’t need the survey, they just needed to observe people’s habits!
When you’re shopping in a mega-store like that, you’re very likely to put things you see right there, in front of you, in your cart – even though you didn’t intend to in the first place.
*think of all the M&Ms you’ve bought over the years just because they were… there*
True, things like that – or the bargain deals everyone goes crazy for! – may clutter the store a bit but at the same time, improve the profits!
“Getting the opinion of your clients matters – but what matters more is observing their behavior!”
3. Even the government isn’t always right!
Yes – even governments have to rely on UI/UX design to make things work! It may be surprising to hear but healthcare systems could benefit massively from investing in the UX design.
*Hint: things will be easier for doctors and nurses and they’d be able to focus more on taking care of patients*
In this case, the UK government was trying to implement an IT system that would centralize patients’ records throughout the country.
Their general idea wasn’t as bad as it may seem – the end goal was to enable different hospitals to share information easily and to gain quick access to medical records in case of emergencies.
However, their biggest mistake was probably applying the one-size-fits-all concept – which obviously backfired quite a bit, since they’ve wasted about 12 billion pounds on a system that didn’t meet their usage and functionality targets.
*that means doctors & nurses absolutely and positively hated the system*
The main problem here: they didn’t do enough targeted research on people who’d be using the system, so they couldn’t tell what was wrong with it.
“Target your research as much as possible – one size doesn’t fit all.”
4. Meltdowns don’t always happen out of nowhere
No matter the type of business you’re trying to run, you’ve probably had the occasional meltdown here and there – and in some cases, that can even help you get a new perspective on things.
*gets a fresh idea while sobbing and eating a gallon of chocolate chip ice-cream*
However, some meltdowns are scarier than others – and an actual meltdown happening at a nuclear plant ranks as, well… pretty scary to us.
All the way back in 1979, at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating System the coolant somehow escaped the nuclear reactor because a valve got stuck open. Of course, we don’t know much about nuclear plants but guesses are, a valve getting stuck doesn’t sound good.
In the end, the reactor overheated and radioactive gases were released.
By the time someone noticed something was going on, almost half of the uranium melted – 140,000 people had to be evacuated within a 20-mile zone due to the radioactive gases!
Now you’re probably thinking – how come no one noticed this at a freaking nuclear plant?!
Well, the user interface on the computer panel wasn’t as sophisticated as you’d thought it’d be. True, there was a light supposed to act as a warning whenever the valve was open or not – on if it’s open, off if it’s closed.
It’s just that someone made the light turn off once the computer sent the signal to close the valve – and the light did indeed, turn off after the signal was sent, no matter whether the valve got closed or not.
*no one thought the valve could get stuck*
The moral of this story would be that yes – it’s strongly recommended to think of the main purpose of the product you’re trying to design or improve – just so no one gets a meltdown.
“Think of the main purpose of the product you’re trying to design or improve – just so no one gets a meltdown.”
5. Bad UI/UX always costs more than money
In some cases, poor UI/UX design may even cost lives – or as Jonathan Shariat would say, this is exactly why we need more UX designers in “untouched” fields.
And that happened to be the case with “Jenny” – a fake name for a little girl who died because of the stupidest mistake ever!
Jenny was battling cancer for four years before being discharged. After a while, she relapsed and had to be admitted again to the hospital, where she was given some strong chemo meds.
Now, chemo meds are no joke and this time, they were so strong, she had to be given pre-hydration and post-hydration for three days straight with I.V. fluids. Three different nurses were taking care of Jenny and all of them used their charting software to enter the information needed to make the appropriate order.
BUT here’s the twist:
They were so busy entering information into the system, no one noticed the tiny, really tiny red alert going on – Jenny wasn’t getting her fluids!
The next morning, Jenny died of toxicity because three different people – all of which were pretty well trained – couldn’t figure out how to use the system.
In the original post, some screenshots from the medical software were included – and the screenshots look like a UX designer worst nightmare coming to life.
“In some cases, poor UI/UX design may even cost lives!”
Oh my – I had no idea things could be so serious!
While not all UX design mistakes cost lives – and thank God for that! – most of the time, they will cost you your time and energy.
And one thing is for sure – you can’t get those back.
In the end, the important part is that we should all learn from our mistakes. Actually, the whole concept of UX design is based on plenty of trial and error!
However, the important part is not to forget about why you’re doing what you’re doing: to make things easy and simple for your users.
Because in the end, those who will use your product matter the most.
“Most of the time, UX design mistakes will cost you your time and energy – you can’t get those back!”