I always ask friends, clients, and people at the networking groups I visit, “what do you think is the most important aspect of a website?”

Answers usually include things like “mobile-friendly,” “e-commerce,” “optimized for SEO,” “great content,” and more. All very good reasonable answers but will those reasons alone keep customers coming back? The practice of user experience (UX) considers all aspects of the website including information hierarchy, visuals, messaging, content, user interface, navigation, and usability. Creating the best UX for a website is the most essential aspect of a website to ensure customer loyalty and return visits.

But good user experience extends further than just websites and digital experiences. Everything we interact with during the course of the day is also a user experience. From reading nutrition labels to making sense of utility bills, the easier you are able to decipher information and accomplish the task, the better the user experience. Here’s my Top 5 list of everyday situations that could benefit from better user experience:

  1. Legal disclosures. Working with financial services companies, I understand the need for legal disclosures but that doesn’t mean it’s a good customer user experience. Disclosures are the fine print that never gets read but is mandated. Legal disclosures could benefit from a simplification process and a human, friendly tone of voice to provide customers with a pleasing experience that is not complex or confusing.
  2. Mortgage applications. The American dream is to own a home but it usually starts with the American nightmare: going through the application process to get it. Confusing language, multiple forms and formats, and a convoluted process make mortgage applications my second pick. Even though the current process mandates a stringent vetting and pre-qualification process, if only mobile apps could be utilized from beginning to end. Say goodbye to faxing or scanning and emailing documentation—smartphone cameras would take photos and attach documents directly to the mobile app. A better experience awaits!
  3. IRS forms. Nothing send chills down the spine of a business owner than the mention of these three letters. Come April, you are teleported into a wormhole of confusing lingo, lack of transparency, and forms with odd numbering systems and weird names. Imagine having a mobile app that were so simple to fill out you didn’t need an accountant to explain it to you (sorry, Jim). And a process that made it transparent through every step of the way—from start to finish. We’re probably years away but it will happen during my lifetime!
  4. Home entertainment system menus. TVs, entertainment systems, and set-top boxes still suffer from complex menus. The typical home TV viewer probably has something like 4-6 remote controls in their arsenal to control a TV, cable box, streaming TV service (like AppleTV or FireTV), home gaming system (PS4 or XBox), and surround sound system. Each remote controls complex menu systems which may be simple to the average Millennial but Gen Xers who need their progressive lenses to see may find it challenging to navigate. Providing customers with a pleasing user experience typically means a third-party solution that controls them all or the memory of a Nobel Laureate to remember the settings that perform the basics.
  5. Furniture assembly instructions. Even the smartest person in the room has been foiled by seemingly “easy-to-read” furniture assembly instructions. Some brands do it better than others but the user is often left confused by hieroglyphic-like images that make it impossible to decipher how to fit piece A into piece C and with what tool. It could drive a grown person to tears. The solution: short assembly videos with guided step-by-step directions or well thought-out printed instructions with clear, simple diagrams and a link to a website with an assembly video. Extra pieces would help too!

We are in a grey area. With a world shifting away from manual, analog processes to automated, digital processes, we still have a ways to go to provide the same kind of pleasing user experience to everyday life that we apply to websites and digital experiences.

Can you list one everyday item that suffers from poor user experience?