My friend is a steel structure engineer – his company has been involved in putting up enormous structures, like the iconic Gherkin in London. If he doesn’t get it right, and something is a few millimeters out, the building can be off kilter and the consequences could be huge. Does being a UX designer carry less pressure? I definitely thought so. We used to discuss our respective careers, I was designing HR software back then, and I couldn’t see how any of my bad decisions could have any major impact. What’s the worst that can happen, right?

It really depends on which industry you’re in. Sometimes, bad UX decisions can have huge consequences. To prove it, here are five UX mistakes which have cost companies (and taxpayers) millions, and in the worst cases, ended in an entirely preventable loss of life.

6Icons8 Lose Almost Half of Their Users with a Minimalist Redesign

Icons8 offer access to thousands of free downloadable icons. It’s a great idea, and you’d think they’d know a thing or two about UX – and they definitely do now.

In their defense – they learned a lot from what happened…

When they changed their UI, they saw a 47% reduction in the number of people using their ‘icon request’ service.

The service allows users to vote for icons to be designed, then the ones with the most votes are created the following day.

They introduced a new interface that was modern and clean, but actually less intuitive – the actual purpose of everything is less obvious.

The original design was very clearly a voting system, showing how many votes there were so far, and where to click to vote.

There were also tips on how to request the icon in the placeholder for the text field.

In the second design, all helpful text is hidden. Users have to select ‘request icon’ to see how to do it.

Plus there is nothing about the green numbers for each icon to clearly communicate that they are voting buttons as well as numbers.

Finally, the comments for each requested icon are hidden, so users are less motivated to scroll down the screen, having fun by reading other people’s comments, so they are less likely to explore the different requested icons and vote for them.

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Icons8 say they have used the experience as a learning curve – by trying to simplify the UI, they actually made it more complicated for users.

They plan on finding a new way to indicate votes, will be adding back in the descriptions and will make the request icon service visible on the main page rather than hiding it away.

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