12 usability flaws that are spoiling the mobile web

The mobile web is still a relatively new and rapidly developing medium, but that doesn’t excuse some of the awful user experience issues we’re exposed to on a daily basis.

My job requires me to spend a lot of time browsing mobile sites so I am probably exposed to these problems more than the average consumer. That doesn’t make them any less annoying though. 

So to try and raise awareness of these UX crimes and I’ve compiled a list of 12 problems that I’d love to see the back of.

Let me know of any I’ve missed off in the comments section.

And yes, Econsultancy doesn’t have a mobile site. We’re working on it…

Suddenly switching to a desktop site

There’s nothing quite as jarring as cruising through a mobile site only to be suddenly directed to a desktop site.

Most sites manage to avoid this nowadays, but there are still some high profile culprits. Thomas Cook recently launched a mobile site that suffers from a number of UX problems, not least that after navigating its painfully slow product pages you are then redirected to a desktop site to make a booking.

Similarly, Currys launched a snazzy new responsive site towards the end of last year, but on the very last page of the checkout it reverts to desktop mode.

Tiny CTAs

You’ve search around and found your item, now you want to go ahead and buy it, so all the site requires is a nice, big ‘Buy Now’ button.

Unfortunately it’s still all too common for sites to think they can make do with fiddly little buttons that are impossible to press and incredibly frustrating.

United PixelWorkers gets it right with a big ‘Add to cart’ CTA, although the product size options could be slightly larger. However Tesco’s tiny efforts leave a lot to be desired.

                      

Denying me use of the back button

This is one of my main bugbears on mobile, as if a site’s navigation isn’t compatible with your handset’s back button then it often results in you being booted off the site entirely.

While ASOS does a lot right when it comes to mobile commerce, its site cannot cope with the back button on my Samsung, which makes navigation a nightmare.

Instant popups

I understand that having created an app, sites want to take every opportunity to get people to download it.

However there has to be a better way than jamming a popup in the face of every mobile visitor. If you have a mobile site then why not just let people use it, unless you’ve something to be ashamed of?

We’ve previously pointed out several sites that break this cardinal rule, but Expedia and Gumtree are two of the worst offenders.

                      

Text links

Perhaps worse than tiny CTAs are text links. They are fine on a desktop site but unless you use a massive font then they simply don’t work on mobile.

Check out Gucci’s swanky mobile site, with its impossible-to-click hyperlinks.

                      

Tiny text fields

This really fits under the same category as having miniature CTAs, but the use of tiny text fields is incredibly annoying on mobile sites.

Everything on the screen needs to be clickable with a thumb, though some sites seem to think this only applies to CTAs.

If you compare the different between Newegg and New Look, it’s obvious which is the most user-friendly…

                      

Slow pages

Speed is of the essence in ecommerce, and if anything it’s probably more important in mobile commerce as people often turn to their phones when they’re distracted or looking to kill time, so they don’t want to wait around for ages while pages load.

And though sites can do little about shoddy 3G connections they can easily take action to limit their page sizes and strip out any unnecessary content or features.

Though not an ecommerce site, Facebook’s app used to be one of the most painfully slow mobile experiences around, though Thomas Cook’s new site beats it hands down.

                     

Unreadable fonts

If you’re trying to lure a customer into making a purchase then they need to be able to read the product information on-screen.

Compare the font size on Dick’s Sporting Goods to that on Skinny Ties. It’s obvious which one provides the superior mobile shopping experience…

                      

Unresponsive buttons

Unresponsive buttons are on par with tiny CTAs when it comes to ruining the user experience. And by unresponsive I don’t mean buttons that don’t alter to fit your screen size, I mean ones that don’t do anything when you press them.

EasyJet recently launched a wonderful new mobile site, but it’s let down by the fact that on several of the screens you have to press buttons three or four times before anything actually happens. And then there’s Thomas Cook of course…

Sending desktop links in a text message

One of the best things about being on Orange is all the delicious text spam you receive.

Luckily, even if I cared about the T&Cs for its Bright Stuff service I couldn’t read them anyway as the link included in this text message goes to a desktop site.

                      

Responsive sites that aren’t responsive

I’m totally supportive of anyone who has built a responsive site and feel it’s definitely the future of web design, but that doesn’t alter the fact that when it’s done badly it impacts the user experience.

Though this problem has since been rectified, when Pocket-Lint first launched its responsive site you had to scroll all over the place to view the content.

Top marks to them for fixing it now.

                      

Videos that don’t play on mobile

Whether it’s because it uses Flash or the content provider hasn’t made it available on mobile, clicking on a video only to be rejected is incredibly frustrating.

Come on man, I just want to get me some Diana Ross…

                      

(Image credit WTF Mobile Web)

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12 usability flaws that are spoiling the mobile web

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