Dive into the realm of user expectations in design! Explore the difference between consistency and expectations, and discover how meeting user expectations enhances UX. Learn the importance of standard solutions, providing context, and tips for exceeding user expectations.

What are User Expectations in Design?

When we say "Expectations", in the simplest terms, we mean the user's ability to predict what will happen next. This concept may seem similar to consistency, however, there is a difference between them.


While consistency is a combination of what you feed to the user visually and functionally to get them used to what your store looks and behaves like, the user's expectations come from past experience with other sites and the context you provide on your site.

How to Meet a User's Expectations

From providing context to utilising standard solutions, there are several ways you can try to meet user's expectations. 

Use of Standard Solutions and Following the Norms

As users navigate through a variety of different sites, standards and patterns start to appear and by doing this, users start learning those standards and patterns and then want to expect them in other scenarios.


For example, one of those standards is the hamburger menu icon used in (mostly) mobile navigation. Changing this to an icon that is completely unrelated or hard to associate with the menu can cause confusion and frustration. This is why it is important to recognise and use the standard norms as they help us align with what users expect.


Goat Milk Stuff Log In Page


Goat Milk Stuff (one of our clients) uses commonly used and easily recognisable icons.

Providing Context

Context is important to the users because it allows them to predict what will happen after taking a certain action.


If we take a button as an example, the context we provide here is in the label on the button. If it clearly says "Shop Best Sellers" it is a clear action that a user can confidently take. If on the other hand, a button says "Let's go" it might be hard for a user to understand exactly what this action does. In that case, the best way to help users would be to label the button clearly.


However, sometimes the use of unconventional language might be a part of your brand. Then, you can supply the context by adding a paragraph or a heading close to the button. That being said, we will always try to opt for a clear CTA.

Examples of Providing Context

  • Button labels - a good call to action is a clear call to action. That eliminates confusion.


  • Text fields - placeholders within text fields should always be relevant and helpful to whoever fills out the form. That reduces friction.


  • Captions and descriptions - photos without captions can sometimes seem out of place and confusing, just like products without descriptions. Adding those helps users understand the context better. It also helps with SEO.

Tips For Exceeding User Expectations

When coming to labelling any kind of button, keep in mind to not tell your users what to do. If you’re having to tell a user to click on the button, then there must be something wrong with the user experience.


Click Button Comparison


You shouldn't have to tell your user that a button is clickable. You should show it to them.


This is also apparent with telling users to scroll down. Have you noticed some sites that tell you to scroll or have a computer mouse icon? Again this is considered a bad practice, too. Why should you tell your users to scroll?

Summary: The Important of Delivering Against User Expectations

User Expectations are strongly connected to their past experiences, and in hindsight one of the reasons why it’s also named User Experience. But with users surfing other sites or applications as well as the context you provide on your website, it still needs to be clear and consistent enough for your users to navigate where they need to go, without them having to make a hard decision.


There are norms and standards in web design that come from years of testing and finding what works best for humans. Following those norms will make it easier for users to interact with your site as there will be familiar elements that users can set realistic expectations from.


Labels and information you provide on your site can also help give users more context that will make their interaction even easier.


If you'd like to learn more about how we can help you improve your website UX, feel free to get in touch with our team. We can't wait to help you!


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