Best Practices on Preventing User Errors
There are a number of UI design best practices where well-known digital products that we often produce are tested for user mistakes. However, real-life and interaction experiences do not always live up to our expectations: errors still may be an integral part of the design process. It’s essential to check on the interface elements that should help users quickly recognize certain interactions or content available. We examine user errors to make those elements as the most useful.
How to Prevent User Errors?
We need to prevent mistakes by means of helping the user to preview and build a better mental model of the product interface. According to NN Group, for that it’s essential to use design patterns that may communicate how they work to users, encourage users to double-check their work (especially before deleting), and warn before mistakes are ever made.
Following these easy designers’ practices may help you figure out where exactly your users are making their mistakes and make a plan ahead. So, there is a range of ways how to achieve that. Let’s look at what they are, what they do and how to use them wisely.
Gather User Data
In order to avoid errors, it is essential to identify the precise discrepancies between users’ mental models and designers’ mental models. To do this, user data must be collected. There are many user research methodologies that may be used in different situations, so it’s crucial to choose one that gives you context for why consumers make mistakes and what their expectations are.
Contextual inquiry, field studies, and ethnographic studies are effective techniques for learning early about users’ mental models and expectations when a new design is being developed. Once a system (or at least a prototype) has been created, qualitative usability testing can be used to identify discrepancies between the expectations of users and the designers’ mental models.
The truth is that users might often be not quite aware of the full actions impact that they’re actually making. You should let them review what the changes they make will look like which will help them see and understand the future and often solve their own problems before they even happen. It will also allow them to get a chance to play around while experimenting without actually distorting anything.
Users can do, undo, redo, or repeat many actions. When you allow them at least do and undo some of them to see how they interact, they will know an error and can easily fix that. Being able to undo any action from multiple recent actions will be useful and satisfying for the users. This is a direct counter to the users’ mistakes and can make the user more confident. For example, using features like a trash bin also works like an undo function because it allows you to revert the changes by retrieving deleted items.
See what features are going to be added to your product design, vote for what you would like to see in the application first, or share your own ideas with the potential users. They should also make suggestions as their feedback. The designing team will make some notes which features may be revised, etc.
Progress indicators let people know that your application isn’t stalled while it loads content or performs lengthy operations. In your react native app you may want to have a progress bar animated values, and the attractively animated progress bars filled up correctly may be a problem. And this way they should be well-revised with the users.
Motion design is now in trend, many developers are striving to put not only functional animation into the interface, but also decorative. Why not? A moving picture will work more powerfully than even an illustration. All that is needed to apply animations wisely.
Provide subtle, contextual real time warnings to notify while a user is actively making an error. They can help them to quickly and accurately correct it. You may need to install these warnings in those areas where you particularly know users are more likely to make their mistakes over and over again.
For example, the MailChimp service often shows you if you’ve met each password requirement or not with the help of a checkmark while you’re typing a new or wrong password.
Create useful limits so users are unable to choose incorrectly. Limiting a user’s options is not always a good idea, but when there are clear guidelines for what is acceptable and what is not, guardrails are necessary to avoid errors.
Follow Design Conventions
Visual Design Conventions are normally the models that aim to govern the application’s look and feel. They aren’t visual design choices that an art director would make, of course. They’re more the things that have shown to improve your app usability.
Thus, some standard design conventions may help because they improve the users understanding of what actions they can take. And that’s a one of designer principles. Users that interact with your button on a website or application have used thousands of other sites and apps model, and expect common interactive system elements to look and work in a certain familiar to them way.
Use Color Accents
Web design requires a clear structure and unobtrusive visual solutions. The user, having entered the site, should immediately understand what the main thing is and what secondary, is, etc. Unlike, for example, an advertising banner, where the main message fits into a couple of lines, the interface is more loaded with information – therefore, it is more difficult to highlight the main thing, but you can quickly ruin all the work.
You can’t just make the main button the biggest, boldest and most colourful because there are other important buttons. Hierarchy is created through small accents. Mind that to prevent the user errors.
Our brains are good at reading patterns. If some element is knocked out of the general row, it has no chance to go unnoticed. And it’s used in web design. Such an approach occurs frequently. So you can show the current section of the site, demonstrate the choice of the client; draw the user’s attention to the advantage of the product or valuable information. The main thing is not to overdo it: you need order with one knock-out element, and not ubiquitous chaos.
Such interfaces are common in all creative industries and some business branches. Usually a dark background alternates with a light one – the presence of a dark screen non-stop would complicate perception. But if the user was reading something on a light screen, and then suddenly it was switched to a dark screen, a powerful visual accent would result which may also help such users to better perceive the data.
We read contrasting light letters on a dark background no worse than dark letters on a light background. But if you read for too long, the brain will get tired – therefore, you need to use a dark background in a dosed manner. It should be borne in mind that the user can read information on a white background for a long time and carefully, so long texts of secondary importance can be written there. Sometimes dark chunks are quite small and help to divide information into blocks on one screen and help the users avoid discomfort.
Contrast simply means “the difference”. Contrast is a crucial aspect of visual hierarchy and an essential element in graphic design. If the site presents all the colours of the rainbow, the users will certainly admire its artistic value. But working with such an interface will quickly get them tired.
For the readability of the text and the distinction between different objects, it is not the color that is important. It is important that we see the dark on the light, and the light on the dark. This helps to highlight the most important and simply the main thing, to clearly separate information, even if there is a lot of it.
Thus, the tonal contrast does not get on the users’ eyes, so it is suitable for processing large volumes of texts, and for sites with which the user has been working for a long time.
Pick sensible defaults
Because they show users what a fair value for the input might be, good defaults are beneficial. Pre-filling fields with the most typical value or a customized one gives context and enables users to recognize when they are in the wrong.
Do User Testing
The most accurate technique to identify challenges, issues, and gaps in mental models is through user testing. When a user is given a task, it will be clear immediately if they are struggling, failing, or becoming frustrated. Then, to assist them in avoiding these errors, you can either plan error prevention methods or, even better, improve the design itself.
Metrics can help you determine where your users are having problems at a reasonable cost. Where do your users leave the page? Where are they spending so much time in strange places? When do they depart from a workflow? Take notes on the responses and use the strategies listed above to avoid mistakes.
Give feedback on mistakes
If you want to inform the user about what happened, what they can do about it, and how to avoid it in the future, it’s imperative that you communicate the error clearly. A strong error message will also help the user see the error as a learning opportunity rather than a failure on their behalf. Be welcoming, upbeat, interesting, and helpful.
For instance, offering ideas, previewing findings, and user testing speed up the user’s access to results and highlight more than simply error-prone areas. Users will still make mistakes, despite your best efforts to prevent them from interacting. As designers, we are responsible for offering a safety net to reduce the financial impact of errors and work to prevent users from making the same mistake twice. Most of the improvements mentioned above also raise the overall UX standard for the entire product. Check out to determine if your next UX project benefits from implementing these ideas. Let us know if you need further assistance with your product design projects.