10 common frustrations in UX Web design causing drop-off behaviour

ux frustration users

There are various analytics tools to measure website visitors’ behaviour, like Google Analytics, Hotjar, and A/B testing tools. Although they’ll provide crucial information on how people interact, convert, or drop out of a customer journey, they all lack one element: they won’t tell you why.

Data doens’t tell you the reason for bottlenecks or capture the user’s emotional experience. Yes, they tell you when people drop out of your funnel, but did you know that frustrations building up to that drop-out behaviour often starts earlier in the flow?

To capture this, additional (qualitative) research is required.

Having conducted thousands of neuro-usability studies of websites and apps, we see repetitive UX issues and Design flaws and users feedback on that. We’re happy to share 10 usability issues with a psychological explanation. Okay, here we go:


1. Pushy CTA’s

Persistence pays off, but when using pushy call-to-actions and/or suggestions, there are psychological factors that are usually overlooked.

Sometimes, being pushy triggers the opposite effect on your visitor: resistance. This phenomenon is called “Psychological reactance” and occurs when people are being influenced (too) strongly and experience the lack of freedom of choice.

By having a feeling of being forced into something, people respond with more extreme forms of resistance, leading to behaviour that is opposite of what’s intended. Therefore, pushy pop-ups or call-to-actions are in many cases ineffective.

Avoid an aggressive CTA-strategy and when making use of them offer more than one option to provide a choice. Also, emphasizing that it is up to the user to make a decision, helps to take away the earlier mentioned resistance.


2. Pop-ups at the wrong moment

It happens quite often to have pop-ups ask a user for feedback or validation, prior to having received any type of value from that website or app. An example is asking to rate or review an app in the App Store, immediately after it was downloaded (“Seriously? I’ve just opened it).

When timing your pop-ups, keep the ‘reciprocity principle’ in mind: people should receive something of value first, before they can give something in return.

Another user frustration in relation to pop-ups that we often come across is Chatbots. This is not related to the above, but they distract users from their current objective (the reason they are in your customer journey), thus preventing them from reaching their intended goal. 


3. Poor navigation structure 

Nothing’s worse than browsing a website and losing track of where you are, or, not being able to find your way back to the initial landing page. Users hate it and whenever we conduct a test it is a red flag.

Make sure that it is clear for users where they are and how they can return to previously visited pages. Use breadcrumb structures to facilitated navigation to previous pages, so that people don’t need to use their browser’s back button.

We also advise to have comprehensible page titles (and/or CTAs), and support those with proper iconography where possible to make it clear for users where they’re navigating to.


4. Confusing loading pages 

Most people think that long(er) loading times of pages or elements on a landing page are an issue. This isn’t necessarily the case.

However, it’s proven that when users don’t understand what exactly it is that’s loading, or why something is taking so long, they get frustrated. This is all about expectations management.

The solution is simple: show users what’s going on. Try adding an animated icon (like a circle, an hourglass being filled, minions at work …anything is okay). These ‘waiting-moments’ usually turn into positive emotions.

You can also put users at ease and inform them about what is happening: “Searching for stores near you”, “Checking bank details”, etc. This will give people the feeling that effort is made for them, making results more trustworthy.


5. Unclear search filters

Everyone knows that Search Filters are essential to online shopping. The goal, obviously, is to make searches more specific and user-friendly.

Still, we come across search filters that are unlcear. All the time! When people spend time wading through different filter options, trying to make sense of, it leads to frustration.

Try to minimize the amount of search filter options in i.e. dropdowns, add a search feature for direct / better findability, and add a “(de)select-all” option.

 Another common mistake is having unclear titles or jargon that people don’t understand, often related to technical specifications. Although perhaps relevant, it’s too difficult to understand for an average user (remember: you are not your customer).

Make sure that titles of filter categories are recognizable and easy to understand and manage expectations on what fits into a category. Avoid terms that are too technical, or, when inevitable, offer tooltips (i.e. a question-mark icon) to provide additional information or context.


6. Infinity scroll on PLP

Some websites choose to use endless scrolling on Product Listing Pages. Note that without pagination -or an alternative indication- users have no idea where they find themselves in this ocean of information and how much is yet to come.

Also, users need to scroll all the way back and search for that product they had seen before. Separating pages and adding pagination ensures you’re doing a better job at managing users’ expectations.


7. Add-to-Cart confirmation

When adding items to a shopping cart, sometimes it is unclear to users whether their add-to-cart action was successfully carried out, resulting into multiple clicks. This causes frustration -especially peaking when finding out that one had added the same item multiple times to the basket/cart). Best practice is to turn this into a visual, i.e. by automatically unfolding the cart and showing the item that was just added. You may reinforce this with animations or sound effects.

In relation to purchasing: you might be familiar with the term ‘pain of paying’ or ‘loss aversion’. Emphasize to customers what they’ll gain or receive (the product or service), instead of making a shopping cart focus on what they’ll be parting with (the cost).


8. Online forms: progressive disclosure

Sadly, checkouts are often annoying, but inevitable. Eliminating bottlenecks in this phase of the customer journey is key to minimize abandon-cart situations.

Because checkouts do not follow a uniform process, it is not always clear to users how many steps it takes to finalize their purchase. Adding a progress bar helps to manage users’ expectations. Offer transparency: this is the information we still need from you; this is where you are in the process, etc.

It is not uncommon for users to drop off during this phase, purely out of frustration, often because they don’t know how much longer it will take.

Cool neuro-tip: adding a progress bar also triggers the brain with the ‘need for completion’, stimulating a person to finish a task.


9. Online forms: feedback loops

​​Another trigger of (lots of) irritation with online forms is filling in fields incorrectly. By adding green checkmarks or marking form-fields green – also called inline validation – users get direct confirmation that they have filled out a field correctly.

Also, anchoring a page on forms when being filled out incorrectly, and marking elements with red, makes it easy for users to find the error and correct it.

Optimizing your online forms does not only prevent user frustration, it also ensures that your data for invoicing or shipping are processed correctly, saving cost of returns.


10. Too much information (FOMI)

Final bottleneck on this list is the amount of information websites are sometimes serving their users. There’s a general misconception about providing ‘sufficient’ information.

When informative texts contain many ‘read more’ buttons and/or hyperlinks, users may develop a sense of insecurity. This triggers the idea that they are missing more information, which is called “Fear of Missing Information” (FOMI: not being optimally informed to take a buying  decision). Result: a delayed purchase.

Structuring content properly when landing on a page helps users to have the feeling that they have sufficient information -but not too much-, enabling them to make a well-informed decision. Keep it short and avoid ‘hiding’ information in deeper layers on your website.


Biggest Frustrations in UX Web-design

Sure, we come across tons of other bottlenecks in UX design and we could easily create a top 25, but -apart from avoiding information overload- this article is mostly to encourage you to think about your own users and flows. As every website and target audience is unique, ensure to regularly conduct usability testing to better understand your (potential) customers, discover the why behind your quantitative data and to have input for optimization and A/B testing.