The Dark Side of UX

As much as examples of how to do something well, examples of how not to do things are just as valuable. Something about learning from your mistakes or not repeating history or something… These UX gaffes are generally to be avoided. 

{Insert Photo Here}

Stock photos are the actual worst. Unless you are using them for any other reason than they for what they were intended, at which point the become the actual best. has a really great list of poor UX but the poor implementation of stock photography is potentially one of the biggest offenders.

Image of a really weird stock image
This could only be for Abercrombie’s scented sandal line

Stock photos look like stock photos. Well made stock photos have a time and place but should never be used in place of genuine photographs of your product or team. Ideally you could hire a photographer. But even a few well lit and clearly shot photos of your people or items will make a considerable difference.

Last Updated March 4th, 2009

Usability Geek also brings up an important point about infrequent content. I use the freshness of a site’s content to quickly gage the quality of a company. If the blog hasn’t been updated in several years, are they even a company any longer? If they don’t care about their blog or the news they share, what are they doing? Are they up to date with the industry?

Image of Joan Collins
This image was taken from a Women in the Workplace website that hasn’t been updated in 30 years!!!*

Take this into consideration — if you are setting up a new website for your company or product, don’t automatically assume you need a blog. If you don’t have a plan in place for keeping the blog updated, then it’s not worth the cost upfront to add it in and it’s certainly not worth the price you’ll pay when it’s stale content works against your credibility.

*the image is actually Joan Collins from television’s smash hit Dynasty but… you get the point.


UI (User Interface) & UX (User Experience) are related but are not the same. Consider Craigslist. This is an example of Craigslist in 2007 and 2017. Not much has changed. Craigslist doesn’t need to be pretty to provide the best user experience for what it is. The UI is simple and straightforward and does exactly what it needs to do; facilitate the endless barrage of emails asking questions to answers you addressed in the post.

Example of how little has changed on the Craigslist homepage in 10 years
Craigslist 2007(left) vs. Craigslist 2017(right)

This goes wrong when people go all in on designing a beautiful looking interface for their site or app only for people to find it confusing or useless. Like bodybuilders who build their muscles for show only to fall short when it comes to extended strength endurance tests, UI might look nice but alone it won’t do the heavy lifting. Develop your UX to make your product useful. Develop your UI to make your product fun.

Designing With Ego

*SPOILER ALERT — Silicon Valley*

The television show Silicon Valley is often a study in poor UX choices. In particular, season 3 provides an example of what happens when you let your ego get in the way of a useful UX experience. As the product owner, you have an idea of what you’d like people to do with your product and how they should use it.

A terrible stereotype of a nerdy guy trying to use a two cell phones
Stock image for someone trying to navigate poor UX

The problem is that you aren’t the user. If you are creating an experience for you and not an experience for your user than it should go without sayi… I’m not even going to say it. The point is, design the experience for your users.

And then I’d sit… and think some more
This video is about 1 hour but contains really fundamental idea about UX

Overthinking UX is really easy to do. In this video, Rohan Puri talks about how simple UX should ultimately be. (Sometimes the concepts of UX & UI are talked about interchangeably but that doesn’t mean they are the same. Just… related)

The point being made in this video is that by overthinking the UX of your product will likely put you in a place where you suffer from one of the previous items on this list. Get the initial product completed, put it out there for people to use, gather data, update your product based on the data and repeat the process. Don’t worry about the small stuff. Put the product in your users hands and they’ll help you discover what the small stuff is as well as what the truly important stuff is.

Pop Pop!

Image of a girl who simply just can't anymore with pop up ads
Same, girl. Same.

Popups seem like a really good idea. They usually aren’t. Very rarely are they used well or for a site that even demands our attention beyond a single visit. Furthermore, how often have you been on your phone and one paragraph into enjoying the story about Gemini, the two headed cat, a popup ruins it all. You can’t close it. You can’t move it out of the way. You just don’t get to find out what happens to Gemini. The user experience was so bad that it was negated. The visitor couldn’t experience your site.

They could only experience your popup to sign up for your newsletter. Which they don’t want to do because their experience using your site was ruined.

Like any site or app element, popups can have a time and place. Perhaps only display them for returning visitors. Ensure that the popup doesn’t destroy the user experience. And if a user has already seen the popup, don’t keep showing it.

*The slide image is from a full deck presentation.

These are only guidelines. Sometimes the rules are broken effectively but these violations are ones we see often and are easy to fix. The best fix though is to start your process with UX in mind. From the very first customer discovery meeting, UX should be in the mind of every person on the team because UX, to some extent, touches each person on the team. Then, the end user touches the UX. This metaphor is quickly going off the rails so we’ll leave it at that.


Tyrannosaurus Tech is a software development agency based in Atlanta, GA. We specialize in app development, UX/UI design, and technology consulting.

Also published on Medium.