What is a UI antipattern?

Hand crafted by Michael Boeke on December 20, 2012

I kicked off this series of posts without really delving into what qualifies as a UI antipattern. I was talking about my UI antipatterns posts with a couple of developer friends at Braintree, and one commented that “it’s fun to point out when people are doing it wrong online”. I wouldn’t disagree, but just because some site is doing it wrong, doesn’t mean it’s an antipattern. Sometimes it’s just crappy design, or total lack of design.

Mosaic pattern

To qualify as an antipattern, it has to be a repeated pattern that appears to be beneficial at first, but turns out to create more unintended problems. Additionally, a better answer to the problem has to exist and be documentable and repeatable.

In all the posts I’m tackling as part of the UI antipatterns series, I’m trying to sympathize with the original intent of the design and offer a better alternative - not just point out the flaws.

I’m also choosing to deal with antipatterns mostly at the user interface (UI) level, rather than at the broader level of user experience (UX). There might be plenty of antipatterns to mine out of the user experience, but I’ll leave that to a later time.

What UI antipatterns do you see on the web or on your mobile device? If you have one that you think is worth exploring, please let me know and I’ll writ it up here.

More about design, antipatterns
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Michael Boeke is a designer, product guy, and startup veteran, who currently designs and manages products at online payments company Braintree.