User experience myths have been floating around for a long time. You only have to type in UX myths  into a search engine and you’re greeted with hundreds (if not thousands) of opinions, articles and case studies.

This got us wondering: what do the professionals in our community think about these UX myths? Brace yourself for a more interactive blog, almost like a continual Twitter poll. As you read this article, you will be asked your opinion about these myths, and by selecting an option you’ll be able to see what other professionals think.

If we do this on face value and don’t look for hidden meaning and grey areas, then we should start to see some interesting results. Please note, this is not a formal survey or piece of research, so the process may be a little tilted and biased, but then again we’re only doing it for fun.

🧑‍🤝‍🧑  Myth 1: you only need five users to spot 80% of the issues

This statement is based on data from a 1992 paper by Robert Virzi, which stated that 80% of usability issues of a system would be detected by testing with five participants. The UX Collective have included this in one of their lists.

You may ask: “why are we calling it a myth if it’s based on a scientific study?”. Well, because we’re not in 1992 anymore and the fields of user research and UX have evolved at the speed of light. With products, services, technology, culture and participants changing so much, do you think we need more than five participants to diagnose the majority of issues affecting a product?

📸  Myth 2: stock photos improve the users’ experience

UX Myths broached the subject here, listing studies that conclude stock photos don’t necessarily result on a positive impression on a website’s users:

“Usability tests and eye-tracking studies show that stock photos and other decorative graphic elements rarely add value to a website and even less to a mobile app. They more often harm than improve the users’ experience.”

So, what is your opinion? Do you think stock photos improve the users’ experience?

💬  Myth 3: UX is asking people what they want

Usability Geeks claim here that users are unaware of how they will use a product or system and how they use something depends on their experiences, comfort levels, motivations, interests and demands.

Do you think users know what they want?

🏠  Myth 4: the homepage is your most important page

This myth appears on UX Myths, where they state usability experts have argued about the homepage being the most important page on the site. In recent years, things seem to have changed somewhat. Pages deeper in the structure of websites seem to have taken over and, as a consequence, there isn’t as much weight associated with homepage design as the absolute priority.

So, what do you think?

🏁  Myth 5: UX testing needs to be done at the end

This feels like a statement that is an obvious myth to a lot of user researchers. So much so we feel like running a poll for this one is a bit pointless, but we’ll carry on anyway!

🐁  Myth 6: the three-click rule

The three-click rule means doing a task on any platform should not take more than three clicks. The argument from Rezaid is that this may have been true previously, but products and user needs are so much more complex nowadays, it’s hard to stick to this rule in practice.

What do you think?

🥼 Myth 7: if you are an expert, you don’t need to test your design

I was trying to find the link to this one, but the website must have removed the article. The point was around whether knowledge from experts internally is more important for good UX design than running user research.

The article highlighted that this was untrue and user feedback is crucial to the success of projects. How do you feel about this one?

🎆  Myth 8: icons enhance usability

Icons are used a lot in design, but do they actually do anything for usability? UX Myths say that icons are often hard to memorise and usually highly inefficient. So, do you think icons enhance usability?

🦢  Myth 9: accessible sites are ugly

This myth has changed quite a lot in the last year or so, especially with more and more people being forced to access services online. Accessibility has taken centre stage, but people are still stuck with the stigma that design is beautiful or accessible.

Where do you fir on that spectrum?

🔎  Myth 10: search will solve a website’s navigation problems

There are a lot of studies and topics on navigation versus search functionality. Both are extremely important and should serve as different functions, but if one is poor, will the other one solve all problems for the user?

What do you think about this myth?

What other myths have you heard that you want answers to? Let me know and we can tag them into the bottom of the article! Tweet me @jj_stockwell or the team @people4research.



Jason Stockwell, Digital Insight Lead

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At People for Research, we recruit participants for UX and usability testing and market research. We work with award winning UX agencies across the UK and partner up with many end clients who are leading the way with in-house user experience and insight.