7 Usability Mistakes Usability Experts Commit

Usability expert at work? CC: Bela donna by hypertypos.

Today, November 13th, is World Usability Day. I’m not really involved in it in spite of being really interested in

  • usability
  • user-centered design
  • findability.

With my soon 12 years of online publishing experience I’m still more of a DIY guy who learns everything himself by trial and error. I rarely go to conferences and the likes.

So being both keen on usability and an industry outsider I have a unique view point on usability.

In fact I can’t ignore my impression today that many usability experts commit basic usability mistakes on the Web.

Here are the 7 usability mistakes usability experts commit:

No images
Imagine a magazine cover without an image. Images of women have proved most successful at selling magazines of all kinds. Usability experts seem to hate women, they never display any on their pages. Don’t they want the people to actually use their sites? Websites need eye-catchers like magazines do. Use striking pictures.

Too much text
Usability websites tend to look like they’ve been built in 1995 when people still browsed without images. Not only that, they really focus on text. So in spite of the fact that the text is split up in small chunks you see huge loads of text on usability sites. It’s just too much.

People do not read long texts on the Web, not even divided ones. Also strictly text based pages are not attractive enough to retain quick to leave users, especially from social media.

Too large text
Usability experts love large fonts. I do too but not for the sake of them but for readability. Too large fonts aren’t readable as well. The eye can’t discern many too large letters at once so you are forced to look closely and strain your eyes.

Too much white space
I love white space for my eyes to rest on the Web and I use it myself excessively. It’s partly due to the fact that I’m not a designer myself though so I cant style it in a way that makes sense other than white. Usability experts tend to make sites all white on purpose. Excessive white space has at least two major disadvantages. An all white page appears empty. It’s too bright on the screen.

No or “sad” colors
While I guess usability experts want you not to hurt your eyes on the Web which is a noble gesture they seem to assume we’re all babies or something. Usability experts rarely use fresh, striking and bright colors. You don’t have to make your text red, but an occasional red element on your page does not hurt! Otherwise try a nice green or blue!

Boring interfaces
Why is everybody buying and using the iPhone lately? It’s not just a usable interface it has a sleek and sexy interface! Why are most leading usability websites that boring? Don’t they have designers working for them too? Or is it because they hate women so hey don’t want to be sexy?

Ugly headlines
Have you ever seen a huge bold Verdana headline on Windows? It’s clumsy and it’s ugly and it’s usability headline font #1. You barely can distinguish the letters due to their sheer thickness.

Usability sites Useit.com (Jakob Nielsen himself!), Usabilityfirst.com and even Upassoc.org used them, the latter in white where they’re even more difficult to read on the Web.

Just visit the sites that rank in the top 10 for usability. The World Usability Day site is not as bad as most of them but

only a few usability sites manage to be attractive.

What’s the use of usability if your site is so ugly that nobody visits it or stays there?

More articles by myself on usability:

  1. For Design, Usability and SEO Simplicity Is Key
  2. Top 10 Fatal URL Design Mistakes
  3. 10 Usability Sins that Make me Bounce and Never Come Back
  4. The 7 Simplest Ways To Lower Your Bounce Rate and Get More Conversions
  5. 7 Must Read Design + Usability + SEO Articles
  6. 5 More Design + Usability + SEO Articles: The Clean Dozen
  7. Findability, New and Better SEO? Experts Disagree; 12+ Findability Resources