When developing software products the earlier you identify usability issues the better. It is cheaper to make changes in that design phase that once the product is live. Yet, “50% of a programmers’ time during IT projects is spent doing rework that is avoidable” – Human Factors.
In Nearsoft’s UX Team, we see this everyday. We have helped several companies improve their product’s user experience. In some cases, the product is already on the market, but the engagement is so low that the business is in trouble. Companies end up spending thousands of dollars on customers support to “train” their users on the app.
In the last five years, we have analyzed hundreds of products. This analysis had let us to identify usability issues that appear over and over.
Here’s the three most common usability problems to keep in mind when building your software product. Avoiding these usability issues will save you thousands of dollars in rework. It’ll also make your product more intuitive, and your users will be happier.
Have you seen a door without a lock? How do you open it? For most people, the intuitive action will be to push it since there is no way to pull it open. The same thing happens when a user is interacting with a new app. Based on what they see they will assume what can and can not be done. If you want to lead a user to complete an action the first step is to let them imagine it is possible.
Affordance is defined as “A use or purpose that a thing can have, that people notice as part of the way they see or experience it.”
– Orford dictionary
In the digital world, we can think of it as the characteristics of a feature that will prompt behavior for the user.
If we see a blue text underlined, we assume it is a link we can click on. The same thing happens with buttons and other design elements. Affordance is a way to give hints to users on how to interact with the system.
Many software products have false affordance in their user interface (UI). Buttons that don’t look clickable or text that look like buttons. It causes frustration for the user since they see it as an error in the system.
False Affordance exists when there is no action possibility but the information that specifies it is
In digital products we have seen many apps with false affordances. Their call to action look disable or unclickable. Colors, contrast and hierarchy play an important role on this matter. We’ve seen many products using gray or very light colors in the styling of their active buttons.
This standard style gives the impression that they are disable, so your user’s won’t click on it.
If you’re having challenges with your conversion rates, take a look at your call to actions and make sure they are sending the right message to your users.
Users want to feel in control. Uncertainty is an enemy when it comes to trusting an app. Imagine if we lived in a world without feedback and instant response. How would we know if a restaurant is open or not? How would we know how fast our car is going? Would you trust a bank if they don’t give you a receipt when you make a deposit? The answer is no. The same thing happens when we interact in the digital world.
When an app doesn’t provide users with enough feedback, the user ends up not having enough information to make a decision. Remember knowledge is power. Letting the user know the status of their interaction makes them feel in control. As a result, they test your product and keep using it.
According to Jakob Nielsen, 10 Usability Heuristics for User Interface Design “The system should always keep users informed about what is going on, through appropriate feedback within a reasonable time.”
When building your product make sure to pay attention to the feedback you’re providing to your users. You can do a quick assessment by asking the following questions.
- Is a user able to know if an action has been completed successfully?
- If an error occurred, would the user be able to identify where and what happened?
The lack of Information Architecture (IA) is another common usability issue we have identified often in software products.
“IA is the art and science of shaping information products and experiences to support usability and findability”
– Peter Morville, Louis Rosenfeld
Paying attention to your product’s Information Architecture will allow you to organize the content on your app into small pieces that make sense for your users. We like getting into a store that is well organized, with labels and guidance on how to find a specific product. It turns out we expect the same of digital products.
We have used may methods to structure information one is card sorting. It is as a way to structure information, organize menus, navigations and content categories. Also, Dan Brown created eight principles of IA that can help as a reference to start with.
Avoid Rework, Save Money
These are the three most common usability issues we’ve identified in software products. We encourage you to invest in User Experience early on your development process. At the end of the day investing in UX equals a more profitable business.
If you identify with some of these usability issues or want to prevent them, reach out. we can help you build products people love and buy. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org