6 concrete tips to instantly improve the UX of your app or website

“This is bad for the User Experience!” We’ve all heard this expression before, especially now that User Experience – more commonly known as UX - is a hot topic. But when should something be considered bad for UX? And how do you know it really is bad? Why is the UX of your application or website even important? And most of all: if it’s so important, how can you measure the UX of your system?

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First things first: what is UX?

In UX, we try to understand how users feel when they interact with a system. Every frustration should be transformed into a positive experience. For this, we create customer journeys. These map out all positive interactions and frustrations users have while using your system. From this point on, we take every negative interaction and try to improve them.

It’s hard to identify these frustrations, though. That’s why our UX experts gladly provide you with the following six tips that will instantly improve the UX of your website or application.


1. Let people know what’s going on

Users expect to know what the system is doing. You can provide them with appropriate feedback within reasonable time to keep them satisfied. Some examples: Gmail lets you know when you are sending an email and when the mail is sent. Or in Apple’s App Store, you are shown the download percentage when installing an app.

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2. Let users undo actions or start over

Users often choose system functions by mistake and will need a clearly marked "emergency exit". This way, they can leave the unwanted state without having to go through an extended dialogue or having to look for the specific undesired option. To make this possible, it’s best to support “undo” and “redo” buttons in your system. Consider these examples: in an online payment cycle you can either proceed in or restart the process. And in Gmail,  you have the possibility of retrieving a deleted email.

Every frustration should be transformed into a positive experience.

3. Your users dictate your system’s language

The system should speak the users' language. This means it should address its users with words, phrases and concepts familiar to them, rather than with its own system-oriented terms or jargon. Also always try to follow real-world conventions when presenting information, and make it appear in a natural and logical order. After all, you are telling the system what to say, not the other way around. An example of a bad practice is the dated terms for various types of transactions in ATM machines.

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4. Stay consistent and use a visual language your users know

Follow platform conventions. Your users shouldn’t have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing in your system as it does in others. For example: placement of logo in the top left, search field in the top right and an exit icon where you’d expect it. Users don’t want to re-learn features and the terms and icons linked to them every time they use a new or different system. Imagine if the stop, play, forward and backward buttons used on media players would have different functions based on the system. We wouldn’t want to experience havoc that could wreak.

Users expect to know what the system is doing.

5. Prevent errors with an extra confirmation option

Do you know what’s better than a good error message? A careful design that prevents a problem from occurring in the first place! Either eliminate error-prone conditions or give users the possibility to reconsider with an extra confirmation option. A good example: email providers kindly remind you that you are sending an email without attachment or subject line. Or that last confirmation you have to select on social media before you can finally delete that picture of last Friday from your photo library.

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6. Minimize your users’ memory load

Minimize your users’ memory load by making objects, actions, and options visible. They shouldn’t have to know information on how to use the system, or what’s what, by heart. Instructions on how to use the system should be visible or easily retrievable whenever appropriate. This is why photos attached to a name in an address book are so helpful. We will sooner recognize a face than recall a full name.


When working on the UX of your system, it’s crucial to empathize with the users of your product. However, it’s impossible know everything your users need or want. That’s why you ultimately will have to talk with them. Look at how they (try) to use your system, listen to their feedback and see where they run into problems.

When it comes to UX, try to be one step ahead of your competition. After all, when you improve your UX, people tend to stay longer on your site or use your app more frequently.

Still not sure how you can improve the UX of your website or application?

At The Reference, we have a team of experts at your disposal. They know where to look and which questions to ask in order to optimize the User Experience of your system.

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