Errors are actions that cause an unintended result.
In user experience design, errors are either human errors or design errors. Mostly they are the latter as a result of bad design or from a lack of testing. Errors also happen when designers or developers test their own work. Since they have too much time, effort, blood, sweat and tears invested in their work they are blind to any issues however small or big.
Types of Errors
There are two types of errors, Slips and Mistakes.
Slips occur when an action was taken which was not intended. Slips happen unconsciously when there is a change in routine. An example of a slip is a user who is using their mobile phone and types the email address in the First Name field on a form because they are in a hurry.
There are two types of Slips:
- Action - Caused when there are changes to tasks done repetitively.
- Attention- Caused when there are distractions or interruptions.
Mistakes happen when the intention or the goal is wrong. Mistakes are a result of conscious mental processes. An example of a mistake is clicking on a word that is bold and expecting it to be a link.
There are three types of Mistakes:
- Perception - Caused when there is not enough information or feedback that is not clear.
- Decision - Caused by biases, stress or overconfidence
- Knowledge - Caused by lack of knowledge or bad communication
How to prevent errors
Good design practices prevent slips and mistakes by users. There are a variety of methods available to prevent errors.
Some of the methods are:
- Providing clear feedback with clear consequences of actions
- Position controls so they don’t cause unintended consequences.
- Use confirmation dialogues with multiple steps.
- Use affordances to influence actions.
- Use larger buttons and fields to prevent mistakes
- Minimize the cognitive load by reducing noise
Do you have a favorite method in your UX tool belt? Let me know.