Boo! 5 Examples of Scary UX to Avoid on Halloween — and Always

Halloween is creeping in on us as the October days tail off. But that doesn’t mean your user experience (UX) should be frightening. While frights are fun for haunted houses and other ghoulish festivities, they shouldn’t trickle into your customer experience. 

Alas, as our clients can attest, bad UX has reared its head like a zombie rearing out of a tomb many a time.

Scary. We know. That’s why we’ve compiled a horrifying list of poor UX design examples and ghastly digital experiences, right before Halloween, so you don’t scare off your potential customers. 

Even your most loyal customers will be put off by a bad digital experience. Sometimes, this bad UX arises out of something seemingly minor — a missing image, unclear text, an element located a little further down the fold… That’s what makes bad design particularly scary, in that what seems trivial and inconsequential gives rise to dire consequences.

But fear not! Our 5 scary examples of poor user experiences include very specific cases of how simple elements can go awry. Let’s see what scariness our clients underwent. (SPOILER ALERT: although these real-life UX horror stories seem grim, they all have a happy, data-driven ending). 

Unclear Filters Dampening Sales 

Clicks are great, right? So naturally, a hearty dosage of clicks should be a good thing, shouldn’t it? At face value, it may seem so, as when a zone or an element on a webpage receives a lot of clicks, it signifies ample interaction.

But as our client learned the hard way, click activity, or the study thereof, is not enough when UX is concerned. Studying clicks is crucial, don’t get us wrong. But it offers only a faint glimpse of the overall portrait of your UX.

Our client, a purveyor of men’s fashions, had recently developed a new mega menu. So when it recorded high click activity on the menu, this appeared to be nothing but positive. But it was bearing something sinister; the client noticed a major discrepancy on their site regarding attitudes towards clicks: when clicks increased, sales slumped. 

How was this possible? A UX analysis of in-page behavior presented some incongruity between the mega menu and search/category filters. While menu interactions were high, filter usage was stagnant. With unused filters, shoppers weren’t seeing all the products relevant to them, so sales took a tumble. It’s the stuff of nightmares.

Frightening Sliders Causing High Homepage Bounce Rate

Every mega menu — filled with panels, categories and text — ought to be complemented by visual elements. It would thereby seem natural to include sliders to accompany a mega menu, especially on the homepage, where such elements typically exist.

In the case of our beauty client, this placement wound up being a design fright, much to the detriment of their customers’ user experience, as the customers bounced.

Featuring a wealth of merchandise pushes, the homepage is the gateway to pique product awareness and interest for our client. But it was beset with high bounce rates. With a seemingly healthy swath of products on the homepage, the client was bewildered by what the UX culprit could be.

When analyzing the homepage, with special attention to the mega menu and sliders, the client found that the sliders were generating little to no engagement. Instead, these sliders overwhelmed the mega menu, leading many to bounce before engaging with either of these elements. Spooky.

Confusing Label on the Store Locator Causing Fewer Web-to-Store Visits

A store locator is a handy UI feature for click-and-mortar brands, especially those seeking to uplift web-to-store visits. After all, netizens won’t visit a physical store if they don’t know where it is. 

Instead of looking to Google, visitors ought to trust your brand enough to know that any useful location info exists on your own website. So when our client, a luxury click-and-mortar brand discovered high exits on their store locator, they were beside themselves.

Through granular analytics, they learned that for many site users, the store locator was the main reason behind their visit. Its button, however, had a ghastly label, one with even ghastlier results. It read “product search,” which befuddled users.

To the client, it appeared to be a nifty feature, an add-on to a traditional locator functionality. But it produced high hovers and low clicks, turning users away from the store locator, and as such, from completing their objective of a store visit. This worsened sales for items only available in-store. Creepers.

Disappearing Checkouts Angering Customers and Reducing Revenue

Conversions. Every brand wants them, but few products or even brands at large can trigger them. As such, users who reach the checkout — the final phase of both the customer journey and the sales funnel — signify a UX victory in itself.

Unfortunately, our retail apparel client was racked by bad UX on this holy grail of pages. Our VoC integration had gotten word of users’ ghostly experience when they reached the client’s checkout page.  In fact, a whopping 1,500 customers were afflicted by the ghostly checkout, leading them to complain via the call center, and as our UX analysis showed, leave the site.

When we say ghostly, we mean it. Behavioral analysis caught wind of the sudden onslaught of blank screens when users reached the checkout page. This, in turn, led users on the cusp of converting to abandon the checkout and the site, which reduced revenue for the clients. Yikes!

Simple Missing Image Impairing Conversion Rates

The above examples elucidated how site content led to a bad UX, with scary repercussions ensuing from each such case. But sometimes it’s the missing content that creates scary UX chaos.

In the case of our hospitality client, a missing image made all the difference for the conversion rates on their property pages. 

During a granular UX analysis, the client discovered high click rates on the links to property pages, i.e., pages with hotel offerings. The problem was, despite the clear interest in these hotel pages, users would abandon the site after landing on them.

This caused conversion rates to plummet and an addled brand, as it was unsure of the culprit behind the bad UX, since the images were crystal clear and the deals were showing.

A deeper UX analysis — one on journey analysis, revealed a major gap in the UX of these product pages. Visitors were looking for rooms that included a complimentary breakfast, commonplace in European hospitality, but were struggling to find this information. A simple image notifying free breakfast, even an icon of food would have prevented the loss of this conversion stream. The horror!

UX Analytics: The Bad UX Buster

Any brand can fall prey to scary bad UX. But bad UX need not uphold its reign of terror on your website; there is a solution.

This mighty antidote is granular user experience analytics, the kind of data that can back up the hidden trappings of customer frustration and its digital origins. Whether on its own or paired with VoC, granular data gives you indispensable knowledge on your UX.

The metrics and other capabilities (heatmaps with metric overlays, customer journey analysis) of these analytics do not merely point out the scary monsters causing a bad UX. They also deduce the changes and additions your website needs to rectify the issues caused by the poor UX and improve your sales figures. 

In short, a unique set of UX analytics combat these UX monsters so they can never rear their ugly heads again. Not even on Halloween.


What 62 Million User Sessions Reveal About Halloween Retail In 2018

Our data experts worked their sorcery on 62 million grocery shopping sessions over a three month period to better understand how consumers are browsing for Halloween retail products in 2018. Here are some of their fantastic findings:

#1 Shoppers fall under the Halloween retail spell in the first week of October

According to our data, shoppers go pumpkin-crazy the minute October rolls in. In fact, the likelihood of consumers reaching a page showcasing Halloween items goes up 552% from the previous week.

The magic keeps building in the lead-up to October 31st, with a 75% increase in the number of Halloween-themed pages reached from week one to two, and a further 23% increase between the second and third week of the month.

And the week one wizardry also extends to purchases, with the conversion rate on candy and ghoulish miscellany growing a supernatural 335% from the previous week. It seems the conversion spell wears off a little faster than the window shopping sorcery, however, as conversions don’t budge much over the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, grocery stores are more than catering to this Halloween frenzy, adding 833% more Halloween-themed pages to their platforms in the first week of October. New pages continue to trickle in as the holiday approaches, with 69% more Halloween-themed pages cropping up in the second week of the month.

And even though a month may seem like enough time to stock up on candy corn and fake blood, the data shows it’s never too early to start thinking about Halloween. In fact, the first Halloween-themed pages our analysts spotted were rather terrifyingly published the first week of August. And in the week of August 1-8, the number of new Halloween-themed pages went up a spooky 87%.

#2 Desktop shoppers browsing for Halloween stuff are 56% more likely to convert

So how actively are shoppers haunting these Halloween-themed pages? ContentSquare data shows that desktop visitors browsing for Halloween items will consume around 84% more pages than the average non-bounce shopper — that’s 22 pages versus 12. They also spend 64% more time trawling through products, and are 56% more likely to complete a purchase.

The statistics for smartphone shoppers are not quite as imposing. They view on average 44% more pages than mobile users who do not reach a Halloween-themed page — 10 pages versus 7. Their average session is 20% longer, and they are 17% more likely to convert.

Seems that despite the general enthusiasm for Halloween shopping, our fans of all things horror are left scared (and perhaps a little scarred) by mobile UX.

#3 Which country is winning at Halloween eCommerce?

One hair rising find from our research is that the US, where trick-or-treating is a national sport, has the lowest conversion rate on Halloween items (9.94%). In fact, only 0.97% of US-based grocery shoppers will reach a Halloween-themed page during their navigation.

Shoppers in Germany, however, can’t get enough of Halloween goodies, with 9.94% of users reaching Halloween-themed pages during their visit. In the UK, that figure drops to a grisly 3%.

UK-based consumers win the conversion rate competition, though, with a very healthy 25.52% conversion rate average on Halloween products.

#4 Halloween shoppers convert more on candy but spend more time checking out booze

So what is our global Halloween-crazy audience spending its money on? Unsurprisingly, the highest conversion rate goes to candy (32%), followed by alcohol and snacks for all those hellraising partygoers (22.3% conversion rate) and finally, the decor and costume category (21.06% conversion rate).

Despite having the lower conversion rate, Halloween costumes and home decor are the items that most pique consumers’ interest, judging by the higher reach rate on these items — 0.7% versus 0.55% for candy. People spend more time (42.2 seconds on average) looking at alcohol and snacks than any other Halloween party items. These items also have the highest scroll rate of the lot — 63% versus 60% for candy and 61% for decor/costumes. Decorations and costumes, however, have almost double the reach rate of party drinks and snacks — 0.7% versus 0.41%. Users are most active when browsing for trick or treating supplies, with an average 17.5% activity rate on pages featuring candy.

#5 Halloween shoppers do not necessarily spend more

The average cart for desktop buyers who reached Halloween items during their journey is $138 — 4.84% lower than the average cart of buyers who did not peruse special Halloween pages. And on mobile, the average cart for shoppers who viewed Halloween-themed pages at some point during navigation is $77 — 25.32% lower than the average cart of non-Halloween buyers.

Consumers are hungry for Halloween-themed shopping experiences, and brands are responding to this enthusiasm with a huge content push in the first week of October. While they may be in the market for ghost costumes and zombie masks, users are not interested in a spooky UX. Brands that can leverage behavioral data to understand their visitors’ buying goals and navigation patterns will be able to increase conversions across all devices, and get maximum ROI for their seasonal content.