Why Website UX “Edge Cases” Lead to Visitor Frustration — and What to Do About It

The year was 1993. Beanie Babies invaded the planet. Dinosaurs dominated cinemas worldwide when they escaped from Jurassic Park. Seinfeld won the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series (you might say that Jerry & co. were masters of their domain). And righteous rockers Aerosmith extolled the virtues of “living on the edge.”

A lot — and we are talking A LOT — has changed since 1993; especially that advice about living on the edge. Frankly, the last thing that companies want is for their website visitors to go anywhere near the edge, because they may fall off.

Edge Cases
What we are talking about here are “edge cases,” which refer to website UX pitfalls that are unlikely — but nevertheless possible. And when visitors experience one of these edge cases, it is not a matter of whether they will get mad: it is a question of how enraged they will become. Hell hath no fury like visitors thrust into a nasty edge case. Here are some examples:

  • A visitor incorrectly inputs their credit card data into a form, which causes the form to crash.
  • A visitor clicks or taps the search function, but without putting anything in the search field, which causes the website to hang.
  • A new website is launched and everything seems fine (there are a lot of fist bumps and “WE DID IT!” cheers among the development team), but there are sections of bad core that manifest hours, days, weeks, or even months down the road.

As a result of these negative experiences, visitors cannot move forward as both they and the company desire — or to use a term from the UX world, their momentum on “The Happy Path” — is thwarted.  Fortunately, that is where synthetic monitoring enters the picture.

The Role of Synthetic Monitoring
Synthetic monitoring (sometimes referred to as journey monitoring) is a method of simulating and evaluating the various journeys that visitors take on a website: where they go, what they do, what buttons they press, what forms they fill out, and so on.

With synthetic monitoring, companies can proactively identify and address edge case scenarios, but without having to rely on excessive manual testing or live user monitoring. This is not only more efficient, but it exposes edge cases that would otherwise go undetected.

Ideally, addressing edge case scenarios means eliminating them entirely — such as fixing bad code. But at the very least, companies can put up signposts that point visitors in the right direction. For example, since there is no way to 100% guarantee that every visitor will correctly input their credit card number, a form can be modified to tell visitors when an input error has occurred.

AlertBot: Avoiding the Edge
AlertBot supports advanced and easy-to-use synthetic monitoring that helps companies run and evaluate various UX scenarios before their visitors do — and ultimately reduce edge cases. Hey, Aerosmith is welcome to live on the edge (who are we to criticize the group that brought us Guitar Hero?). But companies that want to drive visitor engagement — and prevent frustration — should live as far away from the edge as possible.

Start a FREE TRIAL of AlertBot now. There’s no billing information required, no installation, and you’ll be setup within minutes. 

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