As a design team working across numerous products and disciplines, we’ve seen plenty of industries with poor UX design.
This isn’t to throw shade at you if you feel like your digital product is lacking in the user experience front. Because if we’ve learned one thing in our collective 20+ years, every problem has a solution.
Before talking to a UX consultant or agency, realize you’re not alone! Our research and evaluation phases include a robust competitive analysis, and we’ve seen the same design flaws tank user experiences, no matter how established the product is within your designated industry.
But the good news is that you can capitalize on these weaknesses to benefit your business. With the right strategy and a little know-how on the basics of UX design fundamentals, you can avoid the common design issues in your industry and lead its digital expansion by example.
The industries with poor UX design we included in this article are based on our opinions (with a few facts to back up our conclusions).
While we’ve certainly created projects and apps for some of these industries, there are a few fields of business in this list that we haven’t touched yet. While our opinions are formed by research and best practices, this blog intends to get the wheels turning and start a conversation on how to improve user experiences in these vital industries.
Furthermore, we’re not singling anyone out or trying to hurt feelings. While we generally like showing examples of what NOT to do, we’d rather tell you about what audiences feel when interacting with products in that industry to show you avenues for improvement.
If we mention a company by name, it's either a UX success story or to cite a specific case study that illustrates our point.
Now let’s get to the list proper 😎
5 Industries With Poor UX Design
Digital market trends have tipped toward more user-centric experiences for years, but some industries still need to catch up with the times. And you know what happens when household-name companies refuse to catch up.
Industries with poor UX design (from video rental chains and office supply manufacturing giants) toppled due to their inability to adapt to the digital age. But while new companies quickly took their place and made our lives easier, the industries listed here aren't going away anytime soon.
While this is good news for the major players involved, it creates confusion and frustration for the users — giving them a sense of dread every time they interact with one of these products. Is that really how you want users to feel whenever they need you to accomplish a goal?
We’re using this space to (gently) call out industries with poor UX design. But we’re not ones to dwell on the negative, so we’re also drawing from our experience and knowledge of best practices to discuss ways to improve them!
You’d think that our federal and local governments could create some less annoying websites with all the tax dollars we pay (okay, we promise that’s the last bit of shade we’ll throw).
Governments have several moving parts, so figuring out where to pay your taxes, update your voter registration, or apply for a permit is already confusing. Digital portals cut down on hectic office visits, but the overwhelming amount of information you have to sift through makes the process even more stressful.
Poor information architecture and disorganized content hierarchy aren’t the only problems with most government websites. The visual designs are painfully outdated — which is a huge factor in a user deciding whether or not they should trust a website.
And unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last seven years, the Government needs to gain our trust now more than ever.
How A User-Centric Experience Saved The UK Government £1.7 Billion In 2015
If you’re a government employee that needs to convince your stakeholders of the value of UX in Government services, take a page from our friends across the pond!
In 2015, GOV.UK transitioned most of its public services to a digital platform. The website itself isn’t the most visually exciting interface. But prioritizing its most visited services above the fold during the two-year transformation program led to a higher follow-through with voter registration, making a lasting power of attorney, and carer’s allowance.
The impact of the streamlined digital transition was stellar. In the following months:
- 98% of driving tests were booked online
- 85% of self-assessment filings were executed electronically
- 12 million eligible citizens registered to vote using digital services
Simple Ways To Improve Your Government’s Digital Services
A simplified sitemap and a clean, legible interface go a long way. But there are a few key things to remember when revamping a website for government services.
- Prioritize Service Portals Over News & Updates: We know YOU think the latest Government happenings are super interesting. But users don’t want to scroll through a pile of articles to update their voter registration or get new vehicle tags.
Conduct user testing to pinpoint the services with the highest activity on your Government’s site. Then ensure they can find those web portals when they first land on the page. Save news and blogs for social media accounts.
- Prepare For The Worst: While we don’t like to dwell on the negative, the COVID-19 Pandemic showed us how unprepared our state and local Governments were for disasters. Even though the worst of the pandemic is over (*knocks on wood*), you never know which new fiasco could be around the corner.
New bills or laws have serious ramifications for your citizens, business owners, and taxpayers. Be prepared to give your site visitors the lowdown with alerts and relevant FAQs — also, ensure your prominent service portals are ready for an influx of users.
- Improve Page Loading Speeds: Since Government websites are large products with multiple pages, some may load slower than others. If a user needs to make payments or apply for a loan or permit, you must maintain these pages to function at optimal speeds.
Quick load times facilitate higher transaction completion and lower checkout abandonment rates. Plus, it relieves a massive burden on your customer support team. Keep a web development team around to perform regular website maintenance and alleviate customer frustrations.
One word: Paperwork.
While some hospital systems and healthcare practices have websites that make insurance verification and online booking a breeze, it’s no secret that all the paperwork involved makes them one of the most notorious industries with poor UX design.
A study from 2018 by the American Medical Association showed that 70% of physicians spent ten or more hours on paperwork and other administrative tasks per week. This takes away valuable face-to-face time in the patient experience and casts a negative light on the whole industry.
How An Incident Management System Helped Performance Health Partners Focus On Delivering Quality Care
While the patient end of healthcare is paramount, provider burnout has far-reaching consequences for people in their care. It’s not just patient records they’re responsible for — they have to manage their own tasks and report incidents on behalf of their employer.
This example of excellent UX comes from the CreateApe camp! And we’re not just tooting our own horn. We created an incident reporting tool for Performance Health Partners to help their healthcare clients document safety and compliance events within their employee population.
By reducing the time it takes to report an incident and follow the proper protocols, our digital tool alleviated providers of tedious administrative tasks, allowing them to spend more time with their patients, eliminate a portion of after-hours paperwork, and improve overall outcomes for the hospital’s population.
This isn’t just an assumption, either. Our Incident Management System was ranked #1 by Best In KLAS earlier this year after scoring 13.3 points higher than the average KLAS software! A Best In KLAS designation indicates that a digital tool enables a healthcare provider to efficiently meet the needs of their patients and providers alike.
Simple Ways To Improve The Digital Healthcare Experience
- Consider Patient And Provider Needs Equally: Provider burnout affects us all. And with the rapidly dwindling number of healthcare workers and increasing patient populations, we need to eliminate as many barriers as possible.
This could be as simple as asking for patient intake forms when someone books an online appointment or an electronic payment portal. Anything that reduces wait times and after-hours paperwork for physicians — the solutions you implement should be mutually beneficial.
- Incorporate Telehealth Appointments: Only some check-ups require an in-person visit. And since the Pandemic turned us into a bunch of homebodies, telehealth appointments are a quick and easy avenue for symptom reporting and prescription updates.
This may seem obvious since most providers already offer telehealth appointments. But you should always ensure your video conference platforms are optimized and secure. Plus, features like an online waiting room and time estimates can significantly improve the telehealth experience.
- UX-ify Patient And Provider Portals: Healthcare portals don’t need to be the most visually exciting thing on the planet, but an organized information architecture and easy-to-navigate dashboard go a long way.
The patient's experience outside the facility walls can drastically alter the perception of their care. Always provide quick access to patient records, diagnostic results, provider messages, and payment flows. The easier patients can find the services they need, the less burden on your receptionists.
Print may be dead, but it’s still alive online! However, whether it’s a huge publication or a niche digital rag, many news sites are littered with user experience flaws that drive people away from their most interesting stories.
A news website doesn’t seem super complicated on a surface level. But when you consider the categories, writers, and archives that go into a user’s interaction with the site, the sitemap becomes much more elaborate.
Couple basic search features and filters with excessive pop-up ads and gated content — you get another industry with poor UX design.
Where News Websites And Apps Fall Short Of User Expectations
We'll use a case study by Sally Chen from UX Collective to demonstrate why news platforms (specifically the Apple News App) consistently rank among industries with poor UX design. By looking at Chen’s findings and user research, we can see a lot of similar problems between other news products.
Through Chen’s audit, she discovered that the app’s functionalities were limited. To make the experience more adaptable to the user’s taste and encourage repeat usage, she conducted user tests to see what consumers wanted from their news sites.
These common pain points were cited:
- “For You” stories were not relevant to the user’s interests
- Skipping the “Follow Your Favorites” step due to an overwhelming number of options
- “Save”, “Like”, or “Share Story” options were too hard to find
- The search page automatically suggests topics the user is not interested in
- Way too many notifications
- No search bar to quickly find saved stories
- No theme or font options for comfortability and accessibility
Simple Ways To Improve Online News Navigation And Consumption
Chen’s UX fixes focus on news applications, but websites can benefit from these strategies too!
A simple interface that lists your stories isn’t enough for the average news reader anymore. These days, users have too many interests, biases, and reading habits — and they expect those intricacies to be catered to if you want to hold their attention.
- Survey Your Users: How can you gauge your audience’s unique interests so you can entice them with new content? A survey is a safe bet, making users feel more engaged with your brand.
With a survey, you can ask your users various questions to tailor your content to their tastes and attention span, such as their favorite topics, authors, political leanings, etc. You can also use your survey findings to shape your onboarding flows with updates from trusted publications, new pieces from their favorite authors, and localization elements.
- Provide (Limited) Free Articles: We understand that news platforms need to make money since physical copies don’t sell well. We also believe that journalists should get paid for the hard work they put into their articles. But still, users are unlikely to purchase a monthly subscription without content previews.
We’re not suggesting you give away the whole store. But 3-5 free articles a month are sufficient to give the user a taste of your content and let them decide if they want to pay up for more. You can also sweeten the pot with access to exclusive member content when they join.
- Simplify Search Bars: It’s okay to recommend the newest articles on your search page, as long as they don’t overpower the search bar. A better approach here is to recommend popular topics or keywords (like Chen did in her Apple News App redesign).
Plus, adding a search bar to your “Saved Stories” screen will help the user find the content they want to read later much faster (if you’re like us and save too many stories to keep track of).
Whether you’re part of a large firm or an independent practice, many legal websites make the same mistakes — making them one of the most well-known industries with poor UX design. Your legal website should reflect you and your services, but it also needs to speak to the types of clients you serve.
Many lawyers would agree that the hardest part of their job is gaining and keeping their client’s trust. Since the first interaction with a lawyer is through a website, you should show (not tell) your commitment to their best interests.
So, while your website should boast your skills and experience in the legal field, it’s imperative to balance that line between you and your users to persuade them to set up a consultation.
How A Focused Website Design Increased Law 888’s User Base
And another one from the CreateApe team!
Law 888 is an established personal injury law firm in California specializing in immigration, social security, criminal defense, and worker’s compensation law. Despite their excellent reviews, their website was cluttered with unfocused information and branding.
When we tested with their target users, their major pain points were the lack of educational content to help them understand their case (law is complicated, people) and limited translation options for the website’s content (when the majority of their clients were Spanish, Mandarin, or Cantonese-speaking).
Instead of reorganizing the sitemap and translating the copy into plain-spoken language, we updated the branding to reflect their average client. We deeply studied Hispanic, Latino, and Chinese cultures to understand what resonated with them, then translated everything into the new visual design.
The success was palpable. Plus, with some strategic SEO implementation, we increased their website visits by 5,000 users!
What Speaks To The Average Client?
The most important thing to remember for users seeking legal representation is that they’re going through a STRESSFUL time. They’re likely learning a bunch of new jargon and processes on the fly — and all they want is to feel supported.
You may feel compelled to talk about yourself or your practice with your website, but that won't inspire a potential client to get in touch. Instead, use this first digital touchpoint to help them understand their rights and options when navigating the complicated field of law.
- Avoid Distractions: We love clever load screen animations or a parallax scrolling effect. But as the kids say, read the room. When interacting with a law site, the user wants to find the information that applies to them quickly.
Aim for clean and fast-loading search features, content displays, and screen transitions. And this goes without saying, pop-up ads, autoplay videos, and flashing images. The more control you give the user over their own experience, the more trust you subconsciously instill between them and your practice.
- Optimize For Mobile: A common faux pas we’ve seen among our legal clients is an unoptimized (or altogether missing) mobile experience. Since 92.3% of internet users access the web through a mobile device, it’s imperative to translate your experience across devices.
Plus, since users may need to access your contact information on the go, ensure they can find your email and phone number easily for whatever problems they run into while preparing for court.
- Use Clear, Concise CTAs: A call-to-action button can make or break a consultation inquiry. So you must ensure they’re not buried too low in the web page or relegated to embedded links.
Ideally, they’ll have a spot above the fold on your home page. But you’ll want to intersperse them throughout your services and about us pages so they’re easily accessible throughout the user journey. And don’t forget a strong call-to-action on your contact form.
Our list is in no particular order, but we’re putting banking and financial digital products low among industries with poor UX design because most fintech companies keep their platforms relatively simple. Perhaps a little too simple…
It seems counterintuitive for a UX design company to point out oversimplification as a negative. But let’s be real, some of these product designs are snoozefests. As we said earlier in the Government section, looks are everything (especially for tech-forward millennials and Gen-Z’s starting their first accounts).
Also, when it comes to keeping their banking information and assets secure, users need that extra context to provide guidance and avoid misunderstandings related to their money.
Common Fintech Pain Points
Just like the legal field, the finance industry is full of fancy jargon and elaborate concepts that are too complex to explain in plain language. But while some of us may never seek legal counsel (if we’re lucky), we all need to know how money works.
Unless you’re a Wall Street player or an avid investor, it’s hard to make these financial topics interesting enough to help users understand how taxes, interest rates, debt, and assets impact their income. At the end of the day, the average user only cares about making ends meet.
On top of the inherently dull nature of finances, the lack of friction is an unexpected struggle for fintech products. Users want an accessible and easy-to-use product, but it can’t be so seamless that it accidentally leads them to make mistakes with their money.
With the cost of living and inflation at an all-time high, misinterpreting balances and budgets could have severe consequences. Take the case of Alexander Kearns as a cautionary tale for the effects of poorly designed financial UX.
(We’ll let you read this one on your own. But as a trigger warning, this article does discuss suicide.)
Encourage Financial Literacy & Confidence With An Excellent User Experience
While Kearns’ case is an outlier, it shows us the impact that industries with poor UX design have on their users. It also demonstrates just how far some simple tips, alerts, and notifications can go in preventing a tragedy (or at least recklessness with money).
But how should banks and investment platforms toe the line between easy-to-use and conscientious? Since money is a major concern for everyone, a consumer-first mindset is especially paramount for fintech products.
- Implement Extra Security Measures: Healthcare isn’t the only field where digital products store sensitive information. To gain the user’s trust and confidence, reassure them that their account information, assets, and transactions are safe from prying eyes.
Users generally prefer quick access, but not when their money is on the line. Don’t be afraid to use extra validation methods, such as two-factor authentication or security questions, as a protective barrier against bank and credit card fraud.
- Explain How Alerts Apply To Them: Excessive alerts and notifications from your organization are a total turn-off. But knowing is half the battle when it comes to responsibly managing finances. That’s why you should always keep the “What’s in it for me?” angle in mind.
If your UX makeover just launched, show users where to find their cards, transactions, and other account details. If there was a major change in their balance, alert the user of any direct deposits or overdraft fees. And if a stock is performing well or completely tanking, provide information about the next steps to avoid reactionary mismanagement.
- Incorporate Gamification: We know we made fintech UX sound so serious — and it is! But that doesn’t mean your experience should be sterile and boring. They need to be engaged in your content to truly understand their finances. And gamification is a fun, immersive way to help them connect the dots.
A gamified interface looks different depending on the type of platform. For a banking app, you can incentivize the users to set budget goals and show them how they’re performing from month to month (and where they rank among a percentage of your customers). For investment platforms, it could be social elements or knowledge assessment quizzes for newbies or seasoned investors.
The goal is to get creative and find what drives that sense of healthy competition (and repeat usage).
Feel Called Out?
Maybe…but if you’re involved in these industries with poor UX design, we hope you don’t feel singled out. The industries we discussed here all share a common need for significant improvement in user experience.
It's important to remember that these criticisms are not meant to attack or shame, but rather highlight the areas where UX design enhancements can benefit both companies and users.
As we've seen, even well-established industries with significant user bases can falter without seamless solutions. But these practical strategies can enhance your company’s perception (and your whole industry by extension).
By recognizing the frustrations with your industry’s digital offering, you can capitalize on those weaknesses, ensure trust with your users, and lead by example.
If you feel like any part of this article applies to you and your company, there are two things to remember: you are not alone and it is okay to ask for help.
Working with a UX designer or an agency (*ahem*...*AHEM*) can get you closer to understanding your product’s flaws and guide you on the proper path to fixing them. Start a project with us today!