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Understanding UX: what we can learn from rage clicks

Riley Cullen's Layout avatar

We’ve all been there. You’re on a website looking for something specific, you find it, you click it, and…nothing happens. It’s frustrating, and sometimes, you’ll take out that frustration on your mouse. This is probably the most common example of what developers refer to as “rage clicking.”

When a user is rage clicking on your site, there’s probably a reason behind it, and knowing when and why it’s happening can help you improve your user experiences. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most common reasons users rage click, how you can track occurrences of rage clicking, and some simple steps you can take to fix any rage-inducing aspects of your site.

Why users rage click

Most often, a rage click is a sign of user frustration. There are a few common reasons users may click rapidly on a certain area of your site.

One of the most common reasons users will rage click on an icon or other element of your site is because they think it’s a clickable field even though it’s not. These misleading elements make your user believe they link to additional information, creating confusion when they don’t.

Dead links and long loading times are two of the other common reasons users will rage click. A dead link is one that won’t load an error page when clicked; it simply does nothing. This leads to major frustrations for your users, because they know the element is supposed to be clickable but they’re not getting a response. 

The same is true for long wait times. When a user clicks a link, they expect it to load in a matter of seconds. If the page starts taking too long, a user may start rage clicking because they believe the site didn’t detect their previous clicks, when in actuality, the site is simply slow.

How to identify and track rage clicks

Knowing why your users are rage clicking is important, but identifying the areas of your site that cause users to rage click is the only way to fix their frustrations.

The best way to find areas where your users might feel the urge to rage click is by conducting some good old fashioned user testing. There’s also an easy way to set up click tracking through Google Tag Manager.

Before you do that, however, it’s important to understand the parameters for what constitutes a rage click. The default framework for what’s considered rage clicking:

  • At least three clicks take place
  • These three clicks happen within a two-second time frame
  • All clicks take place within a 100px radius

If you want to track rage clicking through Google Tag Manager, you’ll start by creating a new tag and labeling it “rage clicks.” Then, you’ll set up variables, like the number of clicks, time frame, and pixel radius, to help GTM hone in on what constitutes a rage click as opposed to a user regularly clicking through your site.

Next, you’ll create a new trigger that sends a custom event to Google Analytics when a rage click is detected. Then, you’re able to see rage click events under the “Events” tab in Google Analytics. You’ll be able to see where rage clicks are happening and be able to adjust the elements that are causing frustration for your visitors. Check out this article for an in-depth explanation on how to set up rage click tracking with Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics.

You can also track rage clicks by installing a heatmap plugin to better visualize your users’ behavior. See where your users are clicking most to identify hot and cold attention spots and decide if any of your site sections are rage-inducing to your visitors.

How to fix rage clicks

Clearing up the site elements that are causing confusion is the best way to stop your users from rage clicking on your site elements. Once you’ve identified the areas of your site that are causing frustration, you’ll be able to make intentional design changes to fix them.

The easiest type of rage clicking to fix happens when users click on an element with a broken link. Fixing this issue is as simple as updating the link and clearing the cache. Other reasons for rage clicking, however, can be more difficult to remedy.

If rage clicks are happening on a non-clickable element, you’ll need to adjust your design so it doesn’t look clickable. For example, important information that is underlined, in a different color than the rest of the text on a page, or has a box around it can look clickable, even when it’s not. These non-clickable elements will often look like buttons because users are used to seeing clickable elements that stand out. By toning down these elements and making them look more like plain text, you can dissuade users from clicking and, inevitably, getting frustrated.

This screenshot from the homepage of Tag Team Signs shows a list of non-clickable text in red. However, a new visitor may see the list and believe the elements are clickable due to the change in text color. This confusion may lead a user to rage click on one or more of the text elements.

When slow load times are causing rage clicks, you’ll have to make adjustments that help speed up site performance. Simply changing your hosting provider to one optimized for WordPress might give your site the boost it needs to serve up information more quickly, therefore reducing the number of rage clicks on your site. 

Rage against bad UX

Take some time and sweep your site for frustrating elements to improve your overall UX and create better experiences for your customers. If slow site speeds are causing unnecessary rage, consider switching your hosting to a WordPress-specific platform, like Flywheel, to improve outcomes on your site!

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