18/09/2019 Andreas

5 Online UX practices that drive me nuts

Online services have improved quite a lot, but there’s also an alarming amount of clutter that makes me irritated, mad and even nauseous! Here is my top 5 list of the worst UX practices that have been quite common. Luckily big tech companies have recently focused on making mobile UX more zen with restrictions on how to use push notifications, notification dots and other UI elements that are invasive by nature. We don’t live in a perfect world though… and never will!

1. Overt use of push notifications

This makes me absolutely nuts. I’m using an Android phone and the notification drawer gets filled quickly with NUMEROUS obsolete notifications. This issue was way worse a while back, but push notifications can still be stressful.

To make things worse my Android phone LED blinks a different colour for different app notifications, which in my case tend to be completely irrelevant 90% of the time. This causes psychological stress and creates a pressure to constantly check on your phone. In my case though, this has lead to sensory “numbing” and I don’t react to notifications as quickly as I used to, this may cause me missing something actually important.

This “feature” has been heavily exploited by the worst of the worst : free to play mobile games that uses predatory means for monetization. Mobile games is a whole another topic which I’m passionate to rant about and I’ll save it for another post.

2. Youtube autoplay

I’m a bit conflicted with this one since this works quite fine on Android TV. But with mobile and desktop experiences, they haven’t given me any extra value. I’m not willing to fall down a Youtube rabbit hole on these devices. I usually am interested to watch a specific video and that’s it. It drives me crazy to always turn off autoplay – I use autoflush on some browsers due to testing reasons and my browser tends to forget this setting.

When I’m watching TV I’m more receptive for auto-suggestions since I’m comfortably laying on the couch and on a relaxed state. This is where this works really well for me!

However, autoplay shouldn’t be on as default on mobile and desktop. But that’s my experience and it’s a personal preference. I’m not always open for forcing content on me.

3. Sticky videos

This! I’ve seen this used especially on media sites and when I’m *hoping* to read an article and have a clean, peaceful reading experience, a video minimizes and sticks around and I have to close it by clicking a very tiny X-button on the corner. Worst thing is if the video happens to be an advertisement and I happen to hit the video itself and not X. But that’s what you marketing people are going for, huh? Sticky videos suck, they are poor UX on mobile and they should be buried in a deep, deep, endless hole.

This also applies for Youtubes mobile app (Yes… Android), hitting “back” button during a video should be a clear indication that I’m not interested in watching the video anymore. But no, the video sticks around minimized on Youtubes root view. Screen estate isn’t that excessive on mobile even with infinity displays. Just, no…

4. General clutter

You land on a site and the first thing you see is a “Allow cookies”-bar, then a useless chatbot pops out from some corner and EXPANDS, then you get a pop-up for a newsletter you’ll never ever subscribe to. Your website might also want to send notifications for some weird reason. You might also experience some other intrusive practices slapped against your face as a warm welcome. Just… why? If too many of these are stacked and forced on a visitor, you are guaranteed to lose visitors.

I created this abomination to prove my point.

Cookie bar is understandably mandatory for some businesses, but please use consideration with everything else. Cognitive burden is something that isn’t always considered… sadly.

5. Exploiting the notification dots

Red notification dots are eye-catching and tickle your brain to think something new and relevant has happened somewhere . But in some cases, nothing of value can be found when opening the page / view. Notification bubbles may be exploited for marketing purposes to give user advertisements or other uncalled “information”.

Ugh. So there they are, I most likely missed some issues. Machines / AI / whatever were supposed to replace UX designers but since corporate greed drives bad design decisions, I don’t think we are even half-way (or ever) to a perfect online experience