There is an endless variety of sites on the web, and every different layout, navigational pattern, interaction style, or icon set offers new ways for users to become confused and frustrated.
So is there any standard way to think about user frustration? Are there any common signs to look for?
4 user frustration markers
The following 4 markers are not an exhaustive catalog of all the ways a user might become frustrated on a website. However, they do represent 4 universal and easy-to-see behaviors that indicate problem-causing UX.
1. Rage Click
Click. Nothing happens. Click. Click click click.
The “papercut” of UX mishaps, Rage Click situations are disproportionately painful and frustrating to users. Rage Clicks happen when a clickable element is slow, broken, or unresponsive, or when a non-clickable element gives the appearance of being clickable. A user trying to interact with the element is bamboozled by the lack of response, and keeps clicking it with increasing frequency to see if something will finally happen.
Why do these situations induce so much rage? They create an expectation in the user’s mind (this button will take me to the next step; this link will show me the answer to my question) that is then not met.
2. Scrandom (Random scrolling)
Imagine you’re visiting an online clothing store and you want to know if their sizes run large, small, or about average.
First you browse through the product details, and find nothing. So you navigate to “About Us,” glance through it, and still find nothing. Now you go to “Our Materials,” but you’re getting impatient so you start scrolling through the page quickly, scanning headings and pictures, until your scroll bar bounces off the bottom.
This kind of fast scrolling past content is Scrandom. It usually means the scent of information is weak, and users are trying to filter out unnecessary and irrelevant content to find the right information.
Why does Scrandom matter to your User Experience? When users can’t find their answer or start to feel like your content isn’t useful, you’re already losing a potential customer. Someone who’s giving up hope won’t stay on the site much longer.
3. Wild Mouse
What do you do when something is taking longer than you thought it would, or a page doesn’t seem to have finished loading? If you’re like many other people, you may subconsciously zig-zag your mouse around the screen as you wait.
Wild Mouse is a common reaction to slow or failed processes. This behavior indicates a user experiencing irritation, impatience, and anxiety.
Why do users react with these emotions? People value their time, and when an online process takes longer than expected, it creates uncertainty. How much longer will it be? Is it going to work? Users want a resolution to their action so they can keep on moving forward.
Loading speed has been shown to be one of the most significant factors in UX success, so Wild Mouse is a behavior to look out for.
Backtracking is like making a U-Turn. Somewhere along the way, you took a route that you shouldn’t have, so you’ve got to head back the way you came.
When a user hits the Back button without taking any other actions, it says that their last navigation was fruitless. They visited that page believing it was a step towards their objective, but found it to be a dead end.
Backtracking means the flow of information on your website is misleading or disorganized. When you see Backtracking, it’s time to think about how to guide users in more helpful directions.
Informing UX with user behavior
These 4 common behavior patterns are a great jumping-off point for creating a more user-friendly website. Because of the universality of these markers, observing them at a large scale can yield valuable patterns of usage that can inform smarter UX decisions.
Watch out for TryMyUI Stream, our upcoming UX Research tool that will harness artificial intelligence to identify these moments in user sessions on your site!
Update: TryMyUI Stream is now available in Beta! Learn more and join the waiting list at trymyui.com/stream