10 signs of a bad user experience (UX)

By UserTesting | February 22, 2024
A team huddled around notes and workflow papers discussing UX.

At one point or another, everyone has been the victim of a bad user experience. Whether it's a frustrating website, a confusing app, or a difficult shopping process, it's not uncommon to encounter a digital platform that leaves users feeling more bewildered than satisfied. While the sources of these grievances may vary, one thing remains consistent: no one wants to endure a bad user experience (UX).

Bad UX can manifest in various ways. Some signs are based on analytics; others aren't. In this article, we will detail 10 common signs that designers and analysts can look for to identify when users aren't getting what they need from a product, app, or website.

10 common signs of a bad user experience

These are some of the most common signs of less-than-optimal UX.

1. High bounce rate

A high bounce rate occurs when users visit a webpage and quickly leave without interacting with it. If users don't find what they want within a product, they'll seek it elsewhere. Users spending very little time on a page can be a sign of a bad user experience. Use quantitative measurement to find out if the content or the design doesn't engage visitors effectively or meet their expectations or needs. 

2. Low engagement

If users don't interact with content, such as not clicking on links, buttons, or forms, it's a sign that they're not finding the content relevant or engaging. This is especially true when a page has a high click-through rate (CTR) but low engagement statistics. This may mean the link is effective, but users are not finding what they expect or need after clicking, or they're not far enough in the customer journey to be interested in more. 

3. High abandonment rate

A high abandonment rate suggests that users are encountering obstacles during a process they expect to be seamless, such as checking out. If users frequently abandon a multi-step process like a shopping cart, survey, or registration form without completing it, they may be experiencing frustration or difficulty completing the task. 

4. Low conversion rates

Low conversion rates can suggest that users aren't finding what they need or aren't convinced by the offering. A low conversion rate, whether it's related to sign-ups, purchases, or other desired actions, demonstrates that users are not completing the intended tasks.

5. Negative customer sentiments

Monitoring social media, reviews, or customer feedback can reveal negative user sentiments about your product, service, or website. Complaints, confusion, or users expressing frustration are among the clearest signs of a bad user experience.

6. High number of support tickets

An increase in customer support requests or inquiries may suggest that users are encountering issues, which often lead to usability problems. Regularly receiving user complaints, feedback, or support inquiries about the same issues is a signal that users are experiencing problems.

7. High exit rates on specific pages

If a specific web page consistently has a high exit rate, it can highlight potential issues with its content or design. When users frequently exit a specific page, especially one crucial in the conversion process, it could signify that it does not provide the necessary information or value.

8. Low user retention

A low user retention rate means that users don't return to your website or application. This could suggest that their initial experience was unsatisfactory and that they didn't find the experience valuable enough to come back.

9. Inconsistent user behavior

If users consistently perform unexpected interactions, it could be a sign that the product or website is not as intuitive as it should be. For example, if users often take non-standard actions, repeatedly go back and forth between different parts of a website or app, or use unconventional methods or workarounds to achieve their goals, it implies that the interface may not be intuitive or user-friendly.

10. User frustration

Monitoring user sessions and identifying instances of frustration, such as rapid clicks, excessive scrolling, or repeated errors, can indicate a bad experience.

What makes a bad user experience?

There are countless reasons that users may have a bad experience with any app, website, or product. Some of these include:

Slow page load times

Slow-loading pages can frustrate users and deter them from using your product or service. Users may abandon the site before it even fully loads.

The design isn't mobile-friendly

If your website or application is not mobile-friendly or has a non-responsive design, it can lead to a bad mobile user experience.

Complex navigation

Users may become frustrated if they can't easily find the information they seek due to confusing navigation, a complex menu structure, or poor information architecture. 

Lack of accessibility

Inaccessible websites or applications can create a bad experience for users with disabilities, which can result in exclusion and potential legal issues. If users with disabilities encounter problems accessing a product or website, it's time to make accessibility improvements.

Inconsistent design

A lack of visual consistency across a website or app can confuse users and create a disjointed experience.

Irrelevant or low-quality content

Content that doesn't meet users' needs or expectations and overall poor-quality content can contribute to a bad user experience.

A cluttered layout

Overly busy or cluttered web pages or app interfaces can overwhelm users. This can make it difficult for them to find what they're looking for.

Lack of feedback or progress indicators

Users appreciate feedback and guidance while completing tasks. Not providing clear progress indicators or feedback can lead to user frustration.

Prevent bad user experiences with UserTesting

To optimize the user experience, it's essential to gather and analyze data from various sources, conduct user testing, and actively seek customer feedback. Addressing the issues highlighted by these signs can help cultivate a more positive and user-friendly environment—and make customers happier.

Human Insight Platform enables researchers and designers to collect invaluable insights and feedback from real users. Through usability testing, user feedback, and prototype testing, teams refine their websites, apps, products and services to meet their users' needs and expectations. Steer clear of the pitfalls of bad UX by leveraging real human insight.

What's next

An effective digital customer experience strategy is essential for organizational success in the modern digital economy. Customers today are more informed, connected, and empowered than ever before.

About the author(s)

With UserTesting’s on-demand platform, you uncover ‘the why’ behind customer interactions. In just a few hours, you can capture the critical human insights you need to confidently deliver what your customers want and expect.