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Exploring the Use of Limits in User Experience

By Valerie DiCarlo on Aug 20, 2014

Though limiting any portion of the User Experience must never compromise the experience a user enjoys on your site, setting limitations can have a significant effect on user behavior and help to direct behavior and actionables in a way that is more profitable for your company.

Using limits to strategically guide eye flow to your goal actionable (or call-to-action) can be a valuable conversion optimization technique for your marketing landing pages.

Additionally, by creating exclusivity or members-only areas of your site, you can drive traffic to that designated section. If you set a limit of the number of times a user can perform a specific action, such as comment or download materials, you can be certain they will utilize the limited number they are given. This predictor of behavior is supported by the idea that people will always want what they cannot or do not have.

How and Why UX Limitations Work

Landing Page Optimization: Using limits when optimizing marketing and/or ad landing pages is an effective, strategic way to guide your traffic to your specific goal actionable. Limiting visual distractions, intensifying clarity, controlling eye flow, use of white space, short lead gen forms are all examples of the ‘use of limits’.

Implication of Quality: Exclusivity or limited quantities imply value to users… it’s simple human nature. When someone sees that a given area of the site is VIP, or that there are only so many left of something, they will assume it is because that area or that item is spectacular, unique, rare or exclusive. 

Hourglass Effect / Emphasizing Urgency: Giving the illusion that something – items, chances, time – is limited is a surefire way to encourage users to buy those items, use up those chances by performing the desired task, or spend the allotted time in a given area of your site. This supports the concept of “For A Limited Time Only”

Insurance: As humans, we stock up for later. We perceive a threat in the unknown of the future; when we feel that something we value may depreciate or be unavailable in the future, we take what we can get while it is hot. This is a basic survival instinct that has endured to 2014.

Types of User Experience Limitations

Self-destruction: Something such as an invitation to join, a promotional code, or a downloadable item that will no longer be available after a set "expiration" date is an instant draw for people. 

Caps: Putting a limit on a number of times an action can be performed or the number of a given product that can be purchased will inspire people to perform the action and purchase the product, partially to test the boundary and partially out of using it before they lose it.

CTA: UX limitations can also drive more traffic to Call-To-Actions. According to studies, the average user spends nearly 70 percent of their time checking out the left side of a web page. Also, users enjoy media elements and ‘handwritten’ notes. Utilizing a combination of these factors to direct eye flow to the CTA can be effective.

In Summary    
Utilizing limits is an effective strategy to implement. By ‘using limits’ strategically on your site pages, you are directing user behavior and guiding the user to the desired goal actionable. Using limits not only improves website traffic deficit and bounce rate, but improves your conversion optimization - which increases your bottom line.