Blog

December 19, 2016
5 UX Zombies to Avoid

They are the walking dead of the old web, and they are hungry, blood thirsty, and will feed on anything digital. If you see them on your digital experiences, apps, websites, tools or interfaces — run!

HOW DID THEY DIE?

The number one killer of old web conventions is the bundle of technologies broadly referred to as HTML5. When you add new mobile UX to the fray, the bodies really start stacking up. Better methods of processing all those 1s and 0s, as well as newer frameworks that are more efficient keep evolving, and they will not stop. So, to make sure your digital experiences are free from these lurking monsters, here is a handy guide to five of the most common UX zombies.

ZOMBIE NO. 1: PAGINATION SLAUGHTERED BY INFINITE SCROLL 

Making pages of list results display page after page by clicking on “next” or a page number at the top or bottom of a list really stuck around a long time — maybe 15 years or so. And it is still haunting us today. Pagination has died and you should never have to be waiting, waiting, waiting… to see a new page of results again.

/Users/jeffwilliams/Desktop/5 UX Zombies/pagination.png

Source: J. Williams

What killed pagination was an HTML5 associated technology called AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript XML), which allows “under the covers” data submission and retrieval. This technique can sense when a user is scrolling down a list and automatically load the next set of data. This is known as “infinite scroll” and is a better user experience when scrolling down long lists, especially on mobile.

ZOMBIE NO. 2: SEARCH FILTERS KILLED BY PREDICTIVE ANALYTICS 

Back in the day, we wanted to give users a variety of ways to search. By checking this or that, or filtering out whatnot and whosit, we were all very proud of ourselves for our remarkable search control bars. That’s all dead.

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Source: Google

What snuffed out search filters is the strong trend toward artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, and complex search algorithms (thank you Google!). In the new model, a user simply starts typing and the magic logic predicts what they are looking for from a range of hundreds of data points.
 
No need for filters anymore because the filters are “baked in” to the predictive logic of the user is intending to search for. No more complex control bars with blinking and beeping switches, checkboxes, radio buttons and controls. Just one simple search field, thank you.

ZOMBIE NO. 3: THE SAVE BUTTON SLASHED BY AUTOSAVE

In one of the saddest losses the Web has suffered, the Save button is no more. How comforting it was to click “Save” and you knew all that hard work of filling in forms, writing in text fields, choosing your options, was officially saved in the lockbox of the internet somewhere.

/Users/jeffwilliams/Desktop/5 UX Zombies/savebutton.png

Source: J. Williams

But alas, a new method of saving has stricken the Save button down for good. It’s called Autosaving, and it might take a while to get used to, since old habits die hard, but it is much easier and simpler for the user. Mainly because you do nothing! Autosaving uses AJAX to submit new updates to a page automatically (whether you like it not).
 
So, now on forms that usually contained a Save button, you will see a caption that alerts you “saving” or “saved”. It’s like your own personal save assistant!

ZOMBIE NO. 4: BROWSE TO UPLOAD "TAKEN CARE OF" BY DRAG'N'DROP

One of the handy tricks of HTML5 is to allow users to drag files outside of their browser windows into the browser page. Never before possible over the Web, this opens up a new wave of possibilities, of which the most obvious is to make it easier for the user to upload files.

/Users/jeffwilliams/Desktop/5 UX Zombies/dragtoupload.png

Source: Slack

Let’s say you want to add a Meme or funny gif to your company blog (live a little!). Before you had to click on a “Browse for File” button, navigate through all your directories, find your file, click Upload, and wait for the file to hopefully make it. That’s all over.
 
Now, drag and drop into the browser window means you just select a file on your desktop and drag it over into your web page, and it loads it automatically exactly where you wanted. Funny gif live in seconds!

ZOMBIE NO. 5: FLASH ANIMATION'S FATAL WOUNDING BY STEVE JOBS 

In a loss of epic proportions, the death of Flash has been much publicized and bemoaned. Sure, we had to deal with that pesky Adobe Flash plugin, but what amazing animations and UI we could produce. Entire sites were Flash! Ads were flash. Data visualizations were Flash and even videos played in Flash viewers. The Flash Forward conference every year drew thousands of Flash practitioners (including your author).

/Users/jeffwilliams/Desktop/5 UX Zombies/rip-flash.png

Source: J. Williams

But on June 29, 2007, a day of infamy, Flash was dispatched, fatally wounded and died a long slow death. The introduction of the iPhone and its restriction on plugins for browsers, made Flash a non-mobile utility. And the rise of mobile, which is now more popular than desktop web usage, all but finished the job.
 
Now, we use HTML5 technologies, like Canvas and other javascript animation methods, to create animations on the browser, which is an overall better user experience, more light weight, and getting cooler every day. This zombie is one you want to run away very quickly if you see it around your digital experience — it’s hungry, ugly and on its last legs.
 
In summary, watch out for these walking dead of the web, and alert the authorities if you might see any of these monsters lurking in your digital ecosphere!
 

Jeff Williams is UX Design Lead at Xinnovation