5 UX Myths About Your Website Users

Mar. 19, 2013 | by Jack.Josephy

Understanding website usability is a crucial aspect of a successful online marketing strategy. In this article we review some commonly held misbeliefs against our own experience with actual user research and testing.

1. Myth: Your home page is the most important page to your users

UX myth 1 homepage

Users rarely spend very long on your home page or care about it. They are on your site to get a task done and generally this won’t be found on the home page. We are not claiming you should ignore your home page content and design. But frequently business owners obsess over their home page, when users are more concerned with specific pages deeper in the site. As a function to your users a home page usually acts as:

  • A page for new visitors to understand who the website owner is and whether the site is the right place to fulfil their need.
  • As a navigation point to the key content areas or categories on the site, or a re-navigation point to re-orientate visitors arriving deeper in the site.
  • As a way to explore what else might be of interest to the visitor.

Lessons to learn

We always recommend to test your website including the home page with real users. However the following guidelines should be considered.

  • Ensure your home page summarises in some way the value proposition of the company and service.
  • Accommodate navigation for major content areas of the site, so users are cued to the available offering.
  • Keep any featured content fresh and up to date, with product advertisements capturing the attention of the widest or most valuable segment.
  • The home page isn’t usually the best landing page for natural and paid search campaigns, with the exception of brand terms or for single service websites.

2. Myth: Users won’t click more than three times to find what they are looking for

UX myth 3 clicks

Users on the web are admittedly impatient. However the idea that users won’t click more than three times is un-founded. Information Scent Theory points back to our own evolutionary history. Humans will continue to look for information whilst they see cues that suggest they are getting closer to their goal. So whats important is not how many clicks people make, but how well organised your site information architecture is.

Lessons to learn

  • Focus on organising your content in a logical and coherent way.
  • Aim for fewer clicks, but if it makes sense to make deeper categories then do so.
  • Provide clear cues at every point to orientate the user.

 3. Myth: Users want an innovative cutting edge website

UX myth innovative website

Users are generally on your website to get a task done. This may be quite ill defined, but they are almost never there to learn some fancy new feature you have implemented. Users don’t like surprises and are largely impatient browsing the web.  If your website is not intuitive then prepare to see high exit rates.

Lessons to learn

  • If in doubt use familiar design patterns and controls.
  • Don’t be innovative or different for the sake of it.
  • If you want to try something new, that’s fine but test it beforehand.

 4. Myth: Users interact with your website in the same way

UX myth user interaction

Though typical users largely have similar modes of behaviour on websites, they often have different ways of achieving the same task. E-commerce is a good example of where we have seen this un-fold in user research. Some shoppers have different motivations. A bargain hunter has different product searching behaviour to a brand junkie. Some users default to product categories, whilst others to the internal search function, which incidentally they are very un-forgiving with when search results are poor. Some users read large paragraphs of text, though most just skim the information. An interesting example we recently saw was a woman who tried to double click everything. She had obviously learnt this from using Windows and then translated the behaviour to the web.

Lessons to learn

  • User testing is the only way you will know how different people interact with your site.
  • Provide different ways of reaching content to suit different users mind-sets (e.g multifaceted filtering).
  • Provide content at a surface level and then let users drill down for detail.

5. Myth: Users will be persuaded to convert on your website by a specific coloured button

UX myth button colour

Though colours can have an effect on the emotional response of your users, change of button colour is unlikely to be the best tactic for conversion optimisation. Context is also key. Using the right colour contrast is important to maintain a professional look and feel and trigger an attention response from users. Ultimately there are much more important factors in conversion rate optimisation than your button colour. This includes your value proposition, persuasive content, trust indicators and the wording of your calls to action.

Lessons to learn

  • Don’t be fooled into thinking a certain colour will guarantee conversion results.
  • Consider that colour means different things to different cultures and international markets.
  • Use AB testing to isolate variables and statistically test Call To Action colour changes.

The bottom line

Online user behaviour can be as varied and un-predictable as it is in real life. Make sure your design decisions are based on grounded user research. Understanding your customers is key and keeping them central to the final look, feel and design of your site is vital for success. For more information contact results@icrossing.co.uk

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    Comments (8)

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    • Jack.Josephy

      Mark McKnight, we would not deny the importance of a well designed home page. For the type of first time user who knows nothing about your service or value proposition, your claim may be fair, but users frequently have a more specific task in mind and will want to deep link to more specific content.

      Follow the guidelines in the first point of this article and your users should be kept pretty happy in most contexts.Apr 3, 2013 05:09 pm

    • Jack.Josephy

      Mark@ Make Them Click, in agreement that these kinds of sites can work quite well in some cases. However this is a relatively new web trend so I would look to test long scroller designs on multiple devices. They aren't always appropriate to every context either.Apr 3, 2013 05:04 pm

    • Jack.Josephy

      Laura, it is largely un-true that users won't look below the fold. However the same "Information Scent" theory is applicable. If a user does not see something on the page that warrants further investigation they may leave pretty quickly. So when designing your landing page you should try to put the important points and calls to action above the fold.

      However given that device viewports are ever changing (e.g. new tablets and mobiles), we are seeing a wide range of viewport heights. This makes designing above the fold increasingly difficult to do.

      If you can provide visual cues that there is more below the fold then all the better, but at the end of the day today's web users are used to scrolling so don't worry too much.Apr 3, 2013 05:02 pm

    • lauraofbrighton

      Good article. Do you have any thoughts on the "users don't like to look below-the-fold" thing?Apr 3, 2013 04:45 pm

    • Mark McKnight

      I disagree with the first point. The homepage is the most important page on larger wesbites (not blogs). It sets the tone for the site, lets your visitors quickly get a feel for who you are and what you are talking about as well as leads your visitors into your inner pages.Mar 25, 2013 09:32 pm

    • Mark@ Make Them Click

      Don,

      great post, however as you are probably aware there has been a trend over the past few years for businesses to put almost everything that matters on the home page, and use navigation cues within the content to move people thru the page.

      IE the first screen above the fold looks like a simple webpage with an obvious CTA button.


      That button just moves them further down the page, where the process is repeated.

      In effect a multi page site has been turned into a single page.

      For the most part these work quite well.Mar 23, 2013 12:58 am

    • Don Seidenberg

      Nice post Jack. I like the way you structured the information with Lessons to Learn after each UX Myth.Mar 21, 2013 01:11 pm

     
    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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