It’s a hell of a bargain to be a tech tester. Sure, you can see the latest and greatest, but you are also essentially digitally poked and poked to measure it all. This new study from the UK’s Cyber Duck UX Agency went further with digital torture to measure stress levels.
Participants were put in front of a website that was designed (by Cyber Duck) to be filled with some of the worst user experience (UX) elements we encounter online. Unloaded images, weird animations, and buttons that don’t work were just a few of the 10 categories.
Each category of web torture had 110 participants, making the study a total of 1,100 people aged 20 to 58 years. The researchers measured each person’s systolic blood pressure (the pressure in the arteries during the contraction of the heart) while the participant used one of the three purpose-built sites. Normal blood pressure measures at 90 to 120, elevated is 121 to 129, and hypertensive stage one is 130 to 139. After that, you’re in the high blood pressure category; higher than 180, you are in crisis. No participant had any known health conditions; They also had no IT or web UX background.
The results speak for themselves and indicate exactly what not to do in a website design. The table above shows the perpetrators, with the points on the left being the worst. Slow page loading (it took 8.8-10.5 seconds to fully load) caused a 21% increase in blood pressure, while multiple popups and auto-play music were almost as bad, causing a 20% increase each. Items like 404 broken pages and non-clickable buttons were just mediocre annoyances by comparison.
Other issues are multiple image sliders – so slideshow carousels weren’t that bad, right? – that cause blood pressure to rise by 10% and confusing animations at only 5% rise.
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If you want to murder someone, find them on the slowest website full of popups and let them surf.
An interactive version of the table above can be found below. You can enlarge it to full screen size for easy reading and a little stress relief.