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All Product Managers will need a little understanding of UX and UI, here are some obvious and common design issues to learn from and apply the thinking more broadly.

Credit: the author

I’ll give you a recent example I hit on a site I won’t mention. This site required images to be only PDF. This is frustrating, I gotta convert jpgs and png files to a PDF.

Ok, but that’s not a huge problem…. then came the cherry on the sh*t cake; it also looked for smaller than 300kb in size. ARGHGHGG!

How many people know how to convert to PDF, AND reduce the file size?

Even the file size reduction Adobe Pro is limited. If you hit a file that is 2–3mb to begin with, then Pro won’t be able to get that down to 300kb.

Lesson: if you’re going to constrain options, be damn careful about how you do that, and do it to make things easier for all involved, not because of sloppiness in tech build.

How much harder would it have been for that website to allow jpgs? or a file size of 1mb? The likely reason they didn’t? … A bad shortcut on the design, which has never been revisited.

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Probably the most common crap design on the internet is unreasonable password length and complexity requirements.

I gotta do 8 characters? fine.

There’s gotta be a number? Ooookay.

There’s gotta be a capital letter? This is annoying.

WAIT!!!! …. There’s gotta be a special character?

OMG what is wrong with you!!??

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Lesson:Passwordless’ — this is the future.

Single-Sign-On is better than not, but you still have people doing ridiculous over complex passwords they can’t remember.

For a while, I used to link to Google or Facebook accounts for my SSO on platforms that allowed it.

Then I hit an issue — I was close to closing down my Facebook account.

What happens then? I dislike this coupling you get with SSO. If a user leaves the ‘host’ SSO platform then it has a messy cascading impact.

There is one tight-coupling I give gladly on passwords, and we have all done for many years.

Emails. Link passwords to emails.

Why? I’d bet in basically every login system on earth, where the nightmarish ‘8 characters+number+capital+special character’ restriction exists, the Forgot Password function is one of the most frequently used features.

So where does that take you? basically they are already behaving like they would be with a passwordless + email process already, but with crappy design on it.

Skip to the chase, use passwordless with magic links to email.

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Take a look at bbc.com, now go there on your phone. Much difference?


Same for Medium.com.

Twitter, Amazon, Air-BnB.

Grocery retailers are good here too — like Tesco, Morrisons, Asda in the UK. I can’t speak outside of UK, but my bet is the trend is the same.

These all do this well, sure they can improve, but the fundamentals of good mobile experience are there — you don’t need their apps nor do you need a laptop or desktop.

But when you hit many of the old bricks and mortar retailers, especially outside groceries, they offer awful mobile experiences.

You get things like horizontal scrolling pain, trying to find things on the screen which can’t be found through a drop down/accordion or widget, but have to be found through moving the page around.

You also get things like deeply buried settings and options, unreachable from the main navigation links without several following clicks/selections, made difficult by the ability to navigate nested options on a mobile interface.

Moreover, often the visuals don’t scale to the phone screen well.

The worst offenders for these issues are B2B applications. Try using some of SAPs products on a phone, Salesforce, or Workday are similar.

Yuck. They are UUUUGLY.

Many of those business transactions could be done on the move, on mobiles, but the effort invested there is still widely below par.

Lesson: invest at least a little into mobile experience, unless you are 100% concrete from data on usage that you are not going to get mobile use.

Gah!!! this is the most annoying thing.

You hit a screen, and can’t figure out what is clickable and what is not.

Here’s an example from a system for booking gym sessions. See the word “BOOK” ? I guarantee everyone hits that when they go to the page.

Credit: the author

Is that clickable? nope.

The bit that you click is not there, it’s the below icons (e.g. Gym Sessions).

Note that there is nothing visually-cuing about the things which are or aren’t clickable.

You could do any number of things here.

You could make the clickables different colour(s) to plain readable text, frame them, or raise/emboss them. Or just make the whole damn lot clickable.

Lesson: Whatever you do — just make it clear what is interactive, and what is not, with visual cues and feedback.

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Super irritating, but still super common.

The most common one is Date of Birth.

When entering date of birth, virtually all calendar features pop up on today’s date (which is useful to nobody, given no user has today’s DOB). So you want to navigate quickly get to an upto date probably 20+ years prior.

Yet it’s frequently not easy to do this, because you never find ‘skip by ten years’, and instead have to hit the skip 20+ times to go through each preceding year to get to the relevant DOB.

Better tools allow you to enter one number, like ‘8’ and know that doing this should bring up the 1980s. Another option is to give users a dial for each number in the range, or a slider or similar — something that can navigate a large range quickly.

Search result are similarly poor on a lot of systems, with no ‘skip-to’ page or similar, you have people clicking through every page (after scrolling) to get somewhere. Unless you have offered them good filtering options, that will be very frustrating. An infinite scroll is a poor alternative unless you’re trying to feed a bad habit.

Lesson: use dials, sliders, filters or similar tools to reduce the size of a range and allow a user to get to the input quickly.

These are some basic UX/UI things I’ve seen done badly time and time again as a PM. What bad UX/UI have you seen?


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