user experience & design

The Worst UX Design Of 2017

December 21st, 2017

When a user experience truly succeeds, it can go unnoticed to the average eye. It may be lauded by designers and technologists, but often times the best UX designs are so seamless and intuitive that most users don’t stop the recognize the beauty of it.

Poor UX design, on the other hand, is impossible to miss. It’s maddening, inconvenient, and instantly recognizable—which means it’s an excellent educational tool. After all, failure is the greatest teacher, so UX company Codal has scoured the web for the year’s most flagrant design gaffs.

And to emphasize the importance of learning from the mistakes of others—even if their errors are often laughably terrible— Codal has also included what lessons are to be learned from these design errors as well.

The Volume Control Disaster of 2017

In a now infamous thread, the designers and developers of Reddit’s Programmer Humor community decided to see who could craft the worst volume control UI. The results are hilarious, outrageous, and, oddly enough, indicative of a larger problem plaguing the UX design world.

We recommend browsing the entire thread, but here are some of our favorite lowlights:

The Worst UX Design Of 2017

Good game mechanic, nightmare volume slider

The Worst UX Design Of 2017

Radio buttons never go out of style

The Worst UX Design Of 2017

Oh no

Lesson Learned: The dangers of re-inventing the wheel! These controls are purposefully satirizing a common pitfall for designers: being too creative. While innovation is an indispensable tool for an app development agency, sometimes a volume control is as simple as volume control. Never prioritize your ingenuity over usability.

South Park Triggers Alexa

2017 marked the rise of voice-user interfaces, with devices like Google Home and Amazon’s Echo entering the mainstream. And while these gadgets are trending towards becoming household fixtures, there’s still a few kinks to work out in their user experiences.

South Park took advantage of this in one of this year’s episodes by repeatedly having characters shout commands to their smart speakers, triggering the real ones of viewers at home. The DigitalTrends article I linked is safe for work, but if you watch the clip, remember…it’s South Park.

The Worst UX Design Of 2017

Lesson Learned: This isn’t an indictment of Google or Alexa, and exclusively voice-controlled UIs are being regularly cited as one of the top UX trends of 2018. But if this taught us anything, it’s that we’re still learning and tweaking the nascent art of voice-interaction UX design.

The Ready Player One Poster

When the official movie poster for Steven Spielberg’s forthcoming Ready Player Onewas released, fans and critics alike couldn’t help but notice some certain…irregularities with lead actor Tye Sheridan’s legs.

The Worst UX Design Of 2017

Something’s up with that leg in the Ready Player One movie poster

As this Independent article bluntly puts it, it appeared that a graphic designer had gone rogue with Photoshop’s distort tool on Sheridan’s leg, and a predictable wave of memes and ridicule ensued. But the studio behind the poster may have been vindicated by one Twitter user, who proved the leg was anatomically accurate.

The Worst UX Design Of 2017

One of the diagrams used to demonstrate the leg’s correct proportions

Lesson Learned: What’s “technically” sound doesn’t necessarily translate to the right usability choice. As the movie poster’s defender explained, “when something is technically correct, but still looks aesthetically ‘off,’ the artist should probably go with what feels aesthetically better.”

So while it was anatomically sound, the poster looked completely ridiculous to the majority of the public, which means it was the incorrect design choice. Then again, most movie posters don’t generate buzz like this one did. A second lesson: maybe all publicity is good publicity?

Some Unfortunate eCommerce

As a proud eCommerce web design company, this one is a nightmare.

The Worst UX Design Of 2017

Here we see a vendor selling through Redbubble, a popular eCommerce site for custom merch distribution. The shirt for sale, offered in a variety of colors and palettes, is emblazoned with a well-meaning slogan, one that I’m sure many would be interested in wearing.

Unfortunately, when one user ordered the shirt, they found the product wasn’t exactly as advertised.

The Worst UX Design Of 2017

This isn’t just poor color choices for the shirt’s design—it’s also the fault of this vendor’s Redbubble page.

Lesson Learned: For starters, always use accurate product photos. But at a more fundamental level, the larger takeaway here is the importance of transparency in an eCommerce website. Customers need to trust your online store and its products, and whether this oversight was intentional or not, the resulting effect is the same.

Better Design In The New Year

The user experience fails discussed in this article range from the trivial to the disastrous, but all of them (even the purposefully terrible) can teach us crucial lessons of UX design, a field always in a constant state of flux.

As a UX design agency, Codal maintains its dedication to staying abreast to the shifting trends of the industry. That means not only reflecting on the design world of the past, but forecasting how it will look in the future.

If your New Year’s resolution is instilling richer, more complete user experiences into your digital platforms, considering

Sean McGowan


Sean is a technical researcher & writer at Codal, authoring blog posts on topics ranging from UX design to the Internet of Things. Working alongside developers, designers, and marketers, Sean helps support the writing team to ensure Codal produces engaging web content of the highest quality. When not writing about the latest and greatest in digital design, Sean can be found baking, watching movies, or complaining about the shortcomings of his favorite Philadelphia sports teams.


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