Legends tell of a realm in the UX design universe, where creativity and functionality unite. It’s a realm overflowing with common UX myths and misconceptions.
Listen closely and you can hear the hushed whispers of designers here, clinging to their beliefs like lucky charms.
Chances are, you’ve been trapped in this realm on your journey to UX mastery.
Wondering how to navigate it without getting stuck or hitting a dead-end?
Well, join us as we take a closer look at the myths in this realm, paving your way to becoming a true UX design master.
Table of contents
- Myth #1: The 7+-2 rule
- Myth #2: End users don’t know what they want
- Myth #3: After prototyping, the job is done
- Myth #4: Users hate scrolling
- Myth #5: Fewer clicks, more dwell time
- Myth #6: Users are rational beings
- Myth #7: Cool UI? No problem
- Myth #8: Aesthetics = design
- Myth #9: Less is more
- Myth #10: Those images need to move
Myth #1: The 7+-2 rule
As we wandered into the UX realm, we came across a signpost that read “Only the seven may enter.”
This cryptic message was actually a nod to the work of George Miller, a cognitive psychologist and author.
Miller penned a paper with a simple theory: the average individual can retain seven objects in their memory (7+-2).
This became known as Miller’s Law, and was widely adopted as a rule in UX since design is usually influenced by psychology.
But, here’s where the plot thickens. Some designers began misinterpreting this as limiting the number of navigation items, lists, or menus to seven – which is far from what Miller meant in his paper.
And so, we grabbed our trusty sword of truth (cue dramatic music) and chopped down that misleading signpost. ⚔️
What George suggested was people remember around seven units of information per time.
He was only referring to the ability to recall, not a rule for design.
Simply put, if your website menus need more than seven items, go for it!
There’s no UX police handing out fines for extra menu items.
In some cases, menus with more than seven items actually simplify users’ navigation.
Take mega e-commerce sites like Amazon, for example.
Amazon has over seven menu items, all perfectly arranged with context and a great visual layout for a seamless customer journey.
With Myth #1 busted, we plunged deeper into this realm, ready to take down more illusions.
Myth #2: End users don’t know what they want
Our adventure next took us to a shadowy corner where whispers echoed, “Users don’t know what they want.”
It’s easy to believe that users are unsure of what they want. After all, we’re all guilty of moments of uncertainty.
But if this were true, designers would struggle to build engaging experiences for users with just trial and error. UX would become a guessing game.
So, what is the truth?
It’s simple: users do know what they want. They just have a hard time expressing themselves.
So, how do you know what a user needs then?
- Dive into their world with thorough user research. Become a detective of their behaviors, motivations, and pain points.
- Run extensive user testing. Here, you build prototypes of a possible solution for users to try and then collect their feedback.
- If their review gives you a thumbs up, you know it’s what they want. And if not, then take that feedback, implement it, build a new prototype, and try again.
Myth #3: After prototyping, the job is done
As we went deep into the thick jungle of the UX realm, we saw another signpost that made us do a double-take.
It read: “After prototyping, your work is done.”
Prototyping is often considered an expensive design stage that takes a lot of time and has to be perfect. So once a project gets past that stage, it’s easy to assume that it must be finished.
Prototyping isn’t the final destination in the design process; it’s more like the stepping stones to help you get there.
More specifically, a prototype is like a dress rehearsal for the usability of your product before it goes to market.
Once the prototype’s ready, you don’t just kick back and relax. You test it, tweak it, and maybe even redesign it.
Sure, the cost of prototyping can be expensive. But think of it as an investment that helps reduce your chances of failure in the long run.
You get to see what features users’ need, so you don’t end up releasing a product that’s not fully market-ready.
Myth #4: Users hate scrolling
There’s a misleading claim floating around out there that says users don’t scroll. It’s even got some believing there’s no point leaving information at the bottom of a mobile app or website.
In most cases, information gets crammed right at the top of a homepage so users don’t need to scroll to get to it.
This myth most likely comes from a bygone era of slow internet and old-fashioned computers (hands up if you still remember the dial-up sound 🙋).
Sure, the upper part of a web design gets a lot of views. But, this myth was busted wide open by cxpartners in 2009 with some user testing.
Their research showed that users are more than happy to scroll more to find what they’re looking for. 🤯
When users see quality content at the top part of your site, they’ll stick around to see what’s below.
So, want to keep them scrolling? Simple. Split valuable content into two parts – above and below the fold. You’ll soon see users don’t hate scrolling, they just need a good reason to do it.
Myth #5: Fewer clicks, more dwell time
We’d cleared almost half the UX realm of its shadowy myths, but there were still a few beasts to slay.
And that’s when we bumped into a strange one.
This myth claims that all pages on a website must be accessible in three clicks.
On one hand, it kinda makes sense. But on the flip side, not so much.
Because limiting the number of clicks doesn’t consider the variations in a user’s journey.
While some tasks can be completed in three clicks or less (e.g accessing contact information), others can’t (e.g purchasing a product).
This theory also turns a blind eye to several key factors:
- The usability of the website.
- The efficiency of the user’s interaction.
- The user’s familiarity with the site.
It’s not about the click-count; it’s about the quality of the user’s interaction with your site that determines user satisfaction.
An engaging user experience takes simplicity, clarity, and ease of use into consideration.
Simply put, this is not a one-size-fits-all UX rule.
Myth #6: Users are rational beings
The next UX design myth is a golden oldie. It suggests that people are naturally rational beings.
The idea came from an economist, John Mill, who claimed the average person has the ability to make infinite rational decisions.
He called this person “the economic man or homo economicus.”
However, it’s since been disproven by behavioral economists like John Keynes.
So, what’s the truth?
Humans are both rational and emotional beings.
Our decisions and actions are a mix of cognitive, social, and emotional forces.
But, by understanding these different parts, you can build immersive, unforgettable experiences that resonate with your users.
Myth #7: Cool UI? No problem
As we ventured further, a digital sprite sprung from the shadows, asking us to save it. It was an enchanting user interface design (UI), that had the power to leave lasting impressions on users.
But even with all its charisma, it wasn’t destined to stand alone.
That’s where UI design lost its way in this realm.
You see, for UI to be effective it needs to be partnered up with user experience (UX).
Without that partnership, UI’s sparkle starts to fade.
So, if you think creating a cool user interface is all you need for your website design, you’ve been trapped in the dark landscape of UX myths.
To free yourself, you must know the truth.
UI needs to go hand-in-hand with UX and user-friendly structure.
In fact, user experience should come before UI for a seamless user experience.
And that, my friends, is how you create a strong connection with your audience.
Myth #8: Aesthetics = design
This next myth is a common misconception people have about UX design.
They say to wow your audience, all you need are the right aesthetics.
It must be elegant and good-looking or else what’s the point?
Designers now look at UX from a visual design point of view and not as a journey to customer satisfaction.
UX design is about functionality and solving users’ problems.
How, you ask?
Through the power of research, testing, and prototyping.
It’s about getting into the minds of the brand you’re working for, their target audience, and what makes them click (no pun intended).
UX design also involves auditing your web app with tools like MarkUp.io to assess its performance and usability.
But how do you do that?
First, you’ll need to create a Website MarkUp by typing the site’s URL into MarkUp.io’s platform. Just like this…
Then, share the MarkUp with stakeholders via email or a shareable link so they can review it.
They’ll test the site to see if it’s solving customers’ pain points and leave comments by dropping pins anywhere on the MarkUp.
This way, you know what exactly needs reworking in your design.
Now, on the flip side, that’s not to say the user interface (UI) isn’t important on its own. In an ideal world, they’re twins that shouldn’t be separated.
Myth #9: Less is more
This myth started out as an innocent method designers used to create sleek, uncluttered interfaces.
But somewhere down the line, it got adopted as a rule that’s been taken out of context.
Now, designers are oversimplifying complex processes in the name of “less is more”, eventually making them feel lost.
So, are we saying this idea is wrong and designs should be cluttered with information?
Well, yes and no!
It depends on the kind of web page or product you’re working on.
Sometimes less genuinely is more, and it elevates the user’s experience. But other times, it makes navigation confusing.
The ‘Less is more’ mindset loses its importance when misused.
In other words, you don’t want to replace functionality and experience in the quest for a minimalist design.
The best way to approach this is to focus on the user’s experience and understanding what they want.
It’ll help you know when best to apply this rule.
Myth #10: Those images need to move
This one sprouted from a well-meaning idea: use videos to hook users and keep them glued to the site. But over time, it’s become a full-blown myth.
Some believe using videos is vital on their site because of how appealing they can be.
Of course, using videos or moving images in a slideshow can capture people’s attention. But they’re not a must-have.
Even though video is a popular content type, you need to be sure of two things before using it:
- Does it address your audience’s pain point?
- Does it fit the kind of experience they want based on UX research?
If your answer is ‘no’ to both, the videos might become a distraction instead of boosting engagement.
In a nutshell, moving images aren’t essential in the world of web design.
Dwellers of the UX realm, our job here is done.
But before we go on, here’s a potion to tackle any myth that tries to creep into the land again.
Over to you
D’you know why it’s sometimes difficult for UX professionals to wrestle with these myths?
Because some of their clients still believe they’re real.
So, how do you get them to see the truth?
One way is by sharing different versions of designs – one with the myth and one without. It’s like giving them x-ray specs to see the reality behind the illusion.
To do that, you’re gonna need a tool that offers design sharing, annotation, and seamless communication.
MarkUp.io is just the tool you need. Sign up for a free trial and start slaying those myths for a more productive workflow.