I don’t know about you, but as a graphic designer I spend a lot of time online looking at websites either to get fresh ideas on web design and content, to check out what competitors and potential customers are up to, or to muck about on Facebook, do some shopping or pay the bills. That adds up to a LOT of online time and over the years I’ve developed a grudge list of website design and useability gaffs that drive me absolutely nuts. Below is a list of my personal top seven pet peeves – although I’m sure you have plenty of your own so feel free to add them in the comments!
1. Out Of Date Design
Of course I’m going to say that, I’m a designer! But seriously an out of date website design screams “care factor = zero”. Long gone are the days when a business web presence was considered a luxury and bunging up some generic content on a freebie web template meant you were on the cutting edge of technology. Graphics and navigational interfaces that use old skool RGB colour palettes like royal blue and unsightly neon yellow honestly grind on my last raw nerve. Yuck!
Other contenders include spinning animated gifs and bright red pulsating star bursts demanding that I “click” here. These have the opposite effect to which they were intended and make me want to run far, far away rather than stick around a nanosecond longer. And don’t get me started on those oh-so-horrid midi file sound clips that play robotic versions of Greensleaves! Eeek!! Pass the Prozac please.
Even contemporary web developers do crazy things like develop sites with left aligned content wrappers – most irritating when viewing on a widescreen monitor and when I have multiple browser tabs open. I’m now forced to drag the browser into the centre of the screen or resize it to view the content properly. Guess what? I’m more likely to hit CTRL W than bother going through the ordeal. Even Google’s landing page does this. Bah!
2. Generic, Static Or Cliched Content
Let’s face it, brochure style sites that feature static copy are B O R I N G. Why would I want to return to a site that never provides new information – no point really is there? Online marketing has so much to offer, whilst being relatively easy and cost effective to implement. Business owners and marketers really need to view their website as an investment rather than as an expense and ensure it’s kept regularly updated.
Another related peeve is generic “corporate” content that reads like a yawn inspiring Powerpoint presentation and cliched copywriting peppered with buzzwords that seem perpetually stuck in 1982. Using enormous, patronising headlines littered with out of date phrases such as “5 Secrets To Wealth In 5 Seconds I’ll Show You How!!” and other such nonsense is kinda insulting to my intelligence. Do people really respond to this stuff? I know I don’t!
3. Auto Play Video And Sound Clips
OHMIGOD just kill me now. This has to be one of THE most annoying things you can do to a user. Surprising that the worst culprits for this sort of autoplay tactic are news portals. I’ve lost count of the times a website launches into video or advertising content without my permission and the result is usually to close the browser pronto and move on.
4. Illegible Captcha Graphics
What the? I know weeding out spam email, blog comments and phishing is important but can you PURLEASE use a human detecting graphic designed for actual humans?
5. Pop Up Advertising
Pop-ups are seriously painful. Whilst they may generate a few clicks either due to accidental keystrokes or occasional curiosity, is that really worth irritating the vast majority of viewers? Gimmicks like this tend to generate an overall negative perception and viewers may now officially go out of their way to avoid your company for daring to do this to them. Not only will they not buy your products, they’ll whinge about you and your annoying advertising strategies to all their friends.
In short: Don’t Do It.
6. Lack Of Online Shopping Options
As an avid online shopper I do get annoyed when a store doesn’t feature a product gallery or at the very least, some kind of downloadable PDF catalogue. I’m not a fan of physically going out to shop without doing some online research in the comfort of my own home prior to purchasing. Not having an online offer actually delays my decision to buy and gives another retailer who does have an online store the opportunity to get their mits on my disposable income. I understand that not all products are suitable for online retailing – but many are. It’s relatively easy and inexpensive to develop an online shopping cart these days so small businesses would do well to invest in this as part of their sales strategy.
7. Confusing Internal Links & Site Navigation
Internal links greatly improve the organic ranking for important pages on a website, but some companies overdo it with multiple intext links and navigational menus pointing to the same thing over and over. Not only does this look visually confusing, it actually IS confusing and disruptive to the reader. Linking strange phrases may lift your SEO but it’s not considered “white hat”, plus it makes the content much more difficult to read and comprehend. It’s a pain in the proverbial backside and again creates a negative perception rather than a positive one so why bother doing it.
That’s my list – would be interesting to know what bugs you the most! Add your thoughts into the comments below and whilst you’re pondering check out this amusing You Tube video about a website that appears to have spawned artificial intelligence and become somewhat demented.