How to NOT Have a Haunted House User Experience

Simple Tips To Not Scare Your Users Away


If you’ve been in a haunted house before then you must have felt terrified, anxious, uncomfortable, nauseous, overwhelmed, and eager to find the nearest exit – these emotions are sometimes what users experience when they visit a website for the first time. Thus, we will call this a Haunted House User Experience.


Caution: Some of these website examples are so poorly designed that it may cause eye discomfort or trigger an epilepsy. We advised you to use caution when viewing these websites.


Tip #1: Organize Your Information Prioritizing Your User’s Needs

We will use this website as an example:


Did this website scare you? It should.

The first question that popped into my head was “Where do I look?”.

Information Architecture is sometimes ignored by website publishers/marketers just for the sake of advertising their products/services/business, but it is a key part of having a good website experience. To quote the Information Architecture Institute: “Information architecture is about helping people understand their surroundings and find what they’re looking for, in the real world as well as online”.

When you organize your website’s content that helps your customers find what they are looking for; you are also helping your website or brand become reliable and trustworthy. It is also the least you can do for a first-time visitor as they are lucky enough to land on your website.



Here’s another example:




Tip #2: Use, But, Don’t Abuse Colours

There are many theories around using colours in websites, one of which is that it can distract or overwhelm the user when they visit the website. Do you think this is true based on our previous examples? What’s the purpose of using different colours for the background, links, headlines, texts, etc.? 

Here is another example: 

yale school of art


I think it’s apparent how this website’s use of colour is a deterrent to potential users who are unlucky enough to come across it.

In nature, poison dart frogs use their skin colours as a defense mechanism to warn potential predators. These tiny, colorful creatures secrete bitter toxins in their skin, and birds have come to associate their distinctive markings with danger*. This relates to how some websites will use the colours Red or Yellow to warn users if an error has occurred.


poison dart frogs



There are many ways to use colours in a website, an example is when you hover your mouse on a button and it changes to another colour indicating a different state, if it could talk it would say: “Go ahead! Click Me!”.


It is also commonly used to allow a visual hierarchy or “principle of arranging elements to show their order of importance”. Using the example below, the designer is able to convey a clear message by using two distinct colours:




Tip #3: Don’t Make Me Think

If you haven’t read Don’t Make Me Think! A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug, then, you should! It provides insights and practical advice for anyone trying to improve their website’s usability or user experience.

Here is my favourite tidbit:

You can’t make everything self-evident

Your goal should be for each page to be self-evident, so that just by looking at it the average user will know what it is and how to use it.

Sometimes, though, particularly if you’re doing something original or groundbreaking or something very complicated, you have to settle for self-explanatory. On a self-explanatory page, it takes a little thought to “get it” – but only a little. The appearance of things, their well-chosen names, the layout of the page, and the small amounts of carefully crafted text all work together to create near-instantaneous recognition.

If you can’t make a page self-evident, you at least need to make it self-explanatory.

Having a website that’s self-evident is like having good lighting: it just makes everything seem better. Using a website that doesn’t force us to think about unimportant things feels effortless, whereas confounding over things that don’t matter to us tends to drain our energy and enthusiasm – and time.

Have you bought a book from amazon and didn’t even think about the whole process? Did you notice how easy it was to search for a book (even without knowing who the author is or which category it belongs to) and completing the checkout process within a few minutes? Their search box is self-explanatory: choose a product type (i.e. Books) from the drop-down, type in any keyword about the book (title, author, category), click the ‘Search’ button and let their search engine do the work. This is one of the reasons why amazon is the top ecommerce website.




Tip #4: It’s The 21st Century: Make It Mobile-Friendly

According to a survey conducted in 2020 by 55% of customers say that “A bad mobile experience makes me less likely to engage with a company”.

These are the issues that users face:

common cx issues


Other than using mobile-friendly website templates or learning web development, the best option is to leave it to professionals like North Shore Digital to do this for you. Our team is knowledgeable and experienced in web development and design. We’re here to help you design and build a website that is optimized for all devices.



Tip #5: Get Honest Feedback From Users

It’s not always easy to figure out what your users need or if you are providing them with a good user experience. According to Esteban Kolsky, only 1 in 26 unhappy customers actually complain, the rest just leaves.

1 in 26 complain

If you provide your customers with the opportunity to provide valuable feedback, you might be surprised, maybe they know something that you don’t? After all, knowledge is power and IT’S FREE!




If you want your users not to have a haunted house user experience, design your website based on their needs and use any of the tips above. Do your research – look at your competitors’ websites (find out what works and what doesn’t). There’s no perfect solution: only by trial and error can you improve your website’s user experience.

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