5 common mistakes in digital product design

13 min read
May 12, 2023

So you’ve come up with an idea for a mobile app that you believe has great potential. 

The next step is to design your digital product which is easy to use and solves a problem for its users. 

Designing a digital product requires a blend of creativity, technical expertise, and a deep understanding of the users’ requirements.

As it’s an extensive process composed of many elements you need to pay attention to a lot of details and if you disregard some of them you might end up with a product that is poorly designed and difficult to use.

Now, let’s see what are some of the most common mistakes when it comes to digital product design

Not doing enough research

How do you figure out what people want and need from a digital product? 

You do research. 

Research is one of the most important elements when it comes to designing a digital product. 

Companies often skip or cut short the research phase in a rush to launch their product and start earning money faster. 

Not conducting proper research can lead to failure when the final product does not meet the users’ needs. And on top of that you’ve wasted money and time.

One of the most well-known examples of failed market research is Kodak. The company had a 90% market share in the 1990s and failed to acknowledge the changes in the market in the coming years which ultimately led to downsizing its market share to just 7%. 

Kodak global revenue by year

Source: Statista 

So how do you conduct proper research and what do you need to look out for?

One-on-one interviews: conducted between a researcher and a user or stakeholder. 

Surveys and questionnaires: gather a large amount of information about a group in a short amount of time. These are useful for projects with a large and diverse group of users or for groups that value anonymity.

Card sorts: used to explore relationships between content and understand the hierarchies that a user perceives.

Usability tests: involve asking potential or current users to complete tasks and observing their behavior to determine the usability of the product or service. There are three types : moderated, remote, and explorative.

Tree tests: helpful in validating website architecture by showing users a task and the top level of a site map, then asking them to talk through where they would go to accomplish the task.

A/B tests: involve showing two versions of a design to different groups and measuring which performs better.

Research  methods

Research methods

However, it’s important to combine this direct user research with broader market research to determine the demand for your product and its key characteristics.

When researching digital products, it’s important to take a step back and look at the market as a whole. This means understanding what other products are out there and what people want. 

By doing this, you can make sure your product fits in well and doesn’t compete too closely with others ultimately leading to a greatly designed product. 

Overcomplicating the design

To design a digital product with a great UX there are a few things to take in to account:

  • knowing users’ needs and behaviors
  • creating an easy-to-use interface
  • testing the product with real users, 
  • refining the design based on their feedback.

It does sound like a lot but this is exactly what’s going to draw and keep users.

On the other hand, a badly designed digital product can cause annoyance and disappointment for users, which can ultimately lead to decreased usage, negative feedback, and lower sales.

A good example of bad UX design is Whatsapp’s deleted message feature. 

“Oh no, I didn’t want to send this message I better delete it.”

This is great because you can delete the message and everything is fine except the other user can see that you deleted the message. This might arouse suspicion about the message itself.

“Is anything wrong, why did he/she delete the message?”

Whatsapp made it a bit more complicated because of this design. It would have been just fine if they didn’t add This message was deleted note as Whatsapp users aren’t satisfied with this.

Whatsapp deleted message feature

Source: Medium 

Another way to overcomplicate your digital product design would be with passwords. We all know that we need them to keep our accounts secure, but is it really necessary to have overcomplicated password requirements?

Do we really need to remember a thousand-letter-long password with special characters, numbers, and uppercase letters? 

What’s even more interesting is that 58% of users forget their passwords. The problem with complex passwords is that they’re more difficult to remember, which means you’re more likely to waste time constantly creating new passwords to replace the old ones.

So, let’s simplify things. Instead of requiring a laundry list of password requirements, let’s focus on creating passwords that are easy to remember and unique to the user.

Bad password setup example

Bad password setup example

Now that we’ve seen examples of complicated UX design let’s see how we can avoid them:

  • Define clear goals and objectives – before you start designing, clearly define what you want to achieve with the product.
  • Keep it simple – avoid adding too many features or elements that can confuse users.
  • Use user-centered design – conduct user research and gather feedback to understand their needs and preferences.
  • Prioritize usability – make sure that the design is easy to navigate, and that users can complete tasks quickly and efficiently.
  • Test early and often – test your designs early in the process to identify any potential issues and make changes before it’s too late.

Complicated design can have a significant impact on the success of digital products. It is important to keep the design simple and optimized, while also ensuring that the product is easy to use and navigate.

Relying on linear thinking

Linear thinking is great for a lot of human activities. But it just doesn’t work when you’re designing a digital product. 

It’s like following a recipe – you start with one ingredient, add another, and keep going until you have a finished product.   

This approach is useful for breaking down complex problems into smaller, more manageable parts.

Linear thinking

Linear thinking

Linear thinking is very useful in some cases but when designing a digital product it might not be the ideal approach as you might find yourself hitting a wall when creating your product.

This is where design thinking comes into play. 

Popular brands such as Apple, Google and Samsung have quickly adopted the design thinking approach, while top universities worldwide, including Stanford, Harvard, and Imperial College London, teach the related methodology in their courses.

Design thinking

Design thinking

So what is design thinking and how can it help when you’re designing a product?

Design thinking is a user-focused problem-solving approach that places a high value on empathy, creativity, and iteration. 

The process has many benefits:

  • you gain a deep understanding of the user needs and perspectives
  • generates a diverse range of ideas 
  • rapidly prototypes and tests potential solutions to find the best fit

Design thinking is an iterative and non-linear process that contains five phases: 

  • Empathize – connect with user needs
  • Define – create a human-centric problem statement
  • Ideate – get as many ideas as you can
  • Prototype – stay focused on user needs
  • Test – test the product to see where it needs improvement

The infographic below demonstrates the non-linear framework of design thinking.

Design thinking as a 5 stage process

Design thinking as a 5 stage process

Even though design thinking has phases, you can always return to a previous one as it might provide a solution to a problem in some other phase.

Remember that Design thinking gives a basic framework for designing a digital product but is never linear.

Ignoring UX writing

Let’s have a word about UX writing and why it’s something you shouldn’t ignore in digital product design.

Before we dig deeper, let’s define what UX writing is.

UX writing is the practice of creating the text that appears on a user interface, such as a website or app. It guides users and helps them achieve their goals, encompassing everything from button labels to error messages.

Right now you might be asking yourself: But isn’t UX writing the same as copywriting?

It is to some extent but they serve a different purpose. The goal of copywriting is to sell a service or a product and the goal of UX writing is to help the user navigate through a digital product. 

Copywriter vs UX Writer

Copywriter vs UX Writer

What does bad UX writing look like and how can you avoid it?

There are a few traits that make UX writing bad :

  • Unclear or ambiguous language
  • Lengthy and complex sentences
  • Inconvenient
  • Unhelpful
  • Jargon and technical terms

The below image illustrates the difference between bad and good UX writing perfectly.

Bad vs good UX writing

Bad vs good UX writing

This example shows how too much text can be overwhelming. Just keep it clear and simple. Keeping text short and smooth is crucial in UX writing because users typically scan content quickly, and long blocks of text can be overwhelming.

Simple language and short sentences are easier to read and understand, making it more likely that users will engage with the content and take the desired action.

bad UX writing example

Source: MadebySlater 

The example above demonstrates how the app is really not telling you what are the benefits of upgrading the service.

You have to be more clear when offering something to your users or otherwise they’ll be repulsed by your product. Explain what they get from your product and how they can benefit from it.

There are many areas where you can make mistakes when it comes to UX writing but if you’re careful you can prevent them by following the these tips:

  • Think about what the user needs – to write an effective UX copy, it’s crucial to consider the user’s point of view. This means anticipating their needs and questions, as well as identifying potential points of confusion or frustration. 
  • Be consistent – Using different words or phrases to describe the same thing can create confusion and uncertainty for users. For instance, calling a button “Submit” on one page and “Send” on another could lead users to question whether they are performing the same action
  • Test and iterate – As with any design element, UX writing requires testing and iteration. User testing is essential for gauging how users perceive and interact with your copy.

People like it plain and simple so don’t complicate and be precise otherwise your digital product won’t find the users it’s looking for.

Not gathering feedback

Designing digital products can be a complicated process, especially when you’re not getting enough feedback. It’s like trying to drive blindfolded – you’re never quite sure if you’re headed in the right direction.

How do you know what to do next when you actually don’t know if you’re doing something right or wrong?

Feedback is sometimes overlooked which is a big mistake as it can lead to creating a better product.

So why do you need feedback and how can it help in improving your product?

Reasons for listening to feedback

  • Ensuring Customer Satisfaction – Providing exceptional customer service and delivering high-quality products.
  • Eliminating Customer Issues – address customer concerns and resolve issues quickly
  • Developing Better Products – continuous innovation and improvement of products
  • Standing Out in Competition – differentiation from competitors by offering unique features or services
  • Sustain and Grow in the Industry – consistently meeting customer needs, innovating products and services, and adapting to industry trends 

Now that we know why feedback is important we can go a little further and see how to utilize feedback in order to improve your digital product.

First and foremost, focus on user feedback itself. Your users are the ones using your product, so it only makes sense to get feedback from them. 

You can use surveys, interviews, or analytics tools to gather feedback and make changes accordingly. By listening to your users, you’ll gain valuable insights that can help you improve your product.

Bad vs good UX writing

Customer feedback loop

Another tip is to segment your feedback. Instead of taking a broad approach, break down your feedback by user groups or specific features of your product. 

This will help you get more targeted feedback that’s easier to act on.

Once you have feedback categorized, take some time to analyze it. Look for patterns and trends to identify common issues or opportunities for improvement. 

By analyzing feedback, you can identify the most important changes and create a plan for implementing them. This plan will help you stay organized and focused, ensuring that you’re making the right changes at the right time to improve your product. 

Finally create a better roadmap for your product by using the feedback you analyzed. 

When you’re building your roadmap, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not set in stone. Your roadmap should be flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances, such as new feedback or unexpected challenges. 

 Be prepared to adjust your roadmap as needed to ensure that you’re always moving in the right direction.

product roadmap

Source: BreaktheWeb 

 Now that we’ve seen why feedback is important and how you can use it, let’s repeat once more. 

Feedback is essential to the success of digital product design. 

By focusing on user feedback, segmenting, analyzing, and prioritizing feedback, and using it to create a better roadmap, designers can build products that meet the needs of their users and deliver a great user experience.

Digital product design mistakes: conclusion

In a nutshell, designing a digital product can be a tricky task. It’s easy to fall into common traps such as not doing enough research, overcomplicating the design, and creating poor usability. 

Besides, sticking to a linear thought process and ignoring the significance of UX writing can also hurt the outcome.

So, how can you make sure your digital product is a success? By actively seeking feedback and constantly iterating the design. That way, you’ll create a user-friendly, efficient, and intuitive product that meets the users’ needs. 

Designing is all about putting the user at the center and making their experience enjoyable and easy.

If you’d like to read more about digital product design, check out our blog section.

Written by

Sven Krakar

Creative producer

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