Users expect things to work from what they see

I always use my Mum as an example of a general internet user. If I don’t think my Mum could use something then it’s probably wrong for most people.

If you’ve ever been involved in User Testing, live or remote by using something like What Users Do, you’ll notice a few things;

  1. They’re not like You and I.
  2. They do everything different to You and I.
  3. You’ll want to sit on your hands whilst watching them go through the required tasks as you’ll want to try and point them in the ‘right’ and ‘better’ direction of how they use a computer, let alone their general internet usage.
A user looks at something on a screen and expects it to do what it says.
  • Log In = Log in to the website
  • Sign Up = Sign up to the website
  • Log Out = Log out of the website
  • Save = Save information
  • Go back = Go back to the previous screen or action they were doing.
Tesco Failed

I found out this morning from randomly looking to do my grocery shopping online that one of the largest grocery shopping retailers ‘Tesco‘ failed on this first hand. As you’ll see from the below, they have a ‘Sign In’ button however when clicking on it, you can’t sign in. It simply produces a drop down navigation for the areas of the website which is not the action a user requires, nor the information they need to complete the action. To sign in, you have to go through to a section to then sign in by another means.

Tesco Your UX is Broken

It takes nothing for a user to become confused by something, it takes nothing to lose a customer because of something not working or confusion as how something works.

Let’s not make things difficult for people using what we build. They’re looking to get from A to B in the most seamless way possible, let us help them do that by not missing things like Tesco.

Published by


Head of Interaction and Service Design at DigitalDWP.

6 thoughts on “Users expect things to work from what they see”

  1. Funnily I noticed the exact same thing when I went to do our online shop the other day! We use What Users Do to test a big site at work and again, bang on, these people simply don’t behave like “us”!

    It’s a good reminder that often when working on a site, we also become blind to usability flaws and incorporate them into how we test and use the site when a normal user is stopped in their tracks.


  2. I have used the Mum test for years. Frequently I will send her over a url and ask her to explain something to me or do something. If she fails I look at it again. Rose (my wife) does the online shopping in our house and I frequently hear her mumbling about them. They could probably learn a lot by watching 7 or 8 folk try to use the site on their couch while watching TV.

  3. As the book of the same name says ‘Dont make me think’. For me that sums up nicely what users want, namely, clear intuitive signposting with corresponding functionality.

  4. Interesting article. On the face of it I’m inclined to agree about the Tesco sign-up. However, don’t think those guys at Tesco haven’t thought about what they do. My suspicious mind tells me there is an ulterior sales motive for this that isn’t obvious on face value.

    Tesco are the kings of peddling, they have it down to a fine ‘art’ – for want of a more appropriate term!

    I like the mum philosophy, will be using that for future projects.

    1. I’ve no doubt that the Tesco team have another sales funnel going on, however for such an important button you’d think there wasn’t anything else that they wanted the user to do BUT login. Would be great if one of the Tesco web team could comment on this to see if/why it’s like the way it is.

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