A while back, I wrote a post about irritating website features. I’ve just done another round of heavy Internet research, and ran into more disturbing trends–not as much in the data, but in the execution. Maybe these features sounded like a good idea when you planned your website, but consider their effect on the user. Or at least on this user. Here are six more reasons why I hate your website:
1. Slideshows. Oh, how I hate slideshows. When I’m doing research, I’m on the clock. I want my information and I want it quickly. If I’m writing an article on cooking with insects, I don’t want to manually scroll through 45 separate windows containing a paragraph each on different ways to serve Madagascar hissing cockroaches. This makes me not only want to leave your site and never return, but write you a nasty letter demanding a refund for all the time I wasted going through all those slides. Yes, they can be fun and entertaining. But please, either limit your slideshows to ten panes or offer the information in a quick list form.
2. Save your surveys. Imagine that I’ve just arrived at your home page. I’m quickly scanning the information, looking for what I need. I find the right link, and just before I’m about to click on it–Bam! The entire window fills with an invitation to take your survey. I am not happy. I don’t know you, you’ve done nothing for me, but you’re asking me how I like your business. If I approached a brick-and-mortar establishment, and a salesperson stopped me as I was opening the door to ask what they could have done to improve my shopping experience, I’d wonder what she’d been imbibing during lunch break. If you have given me information, for instance, if I’ve downloaded something or signed up for your newsletter, if I’d spent a lot of time on the site or was a returning customer, then I’d consider your survey invitation more seriously. Otherwise, keep it to yourself. New Balance’s website, shopnewbalance.com, has this down to a science. They wait until you’ve bought a product to ask for your comments.
3. Readability, people! I was recently sent an HTML e-mail chock full of links. It was for something that I really wanted: a fun-filled day at ComicCon as a reward for attending a trade show last year. Unfortunately, these links were dark blue on a black background. I couldn’t even read them to figure out what I wanted to click on. Prevent this from happening by sending a preview of your HTML e-mails to someone over 40 before you blast them to your entire database.
4. The geek factor. Now, I love geeks. I am 70% geek, by my estimation. Even if your website was designed by your IT department, don’t make it look that way. Dead giveaways? Type that runs all the way to the edge of the windows. Lots of charts. Too many fonts and no apparent thought as to their alignment. More attention given to navigation than design. For the best combination of user appeal and user friendliness, your site should be designed by an artist who has been trained to create websites, rather than a technologist who has been trained to create art.
5. No means no. Unless I’ve experienced a power failure, leaving your website requires a decision and a physical action. When, upon deciding to leave, various windows keep opening imploring that I reconsider my decision to go elsewhere, it smacks of desperation. I’ve made my mind up. Leave me alone. Okay, maybe I’ll tolerate one reminder in case I’ve accidentally closed the window. After all, my software says, “Are you sure?” to my decisions throughout the day, so I’m accustomed to one bit of nagging. But that’s all. I mean it. Don’t make me come down there.
6. Proofread. Just because you can make changes to your website any time you wish does not excuse you from throwing it up there full of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. We’re all human (gasp, even me!) and we all make mistakes. But when the errors are excessive or unfortunate—for example, “pubic” when you meant to write “public” (yes, I’ve seen this, in an e-book)—it makes your pages unreadable and seriously undermines your credibility. If proofreading isn’t your thing, hire a professional. Otherwise, I’ll be navigating somewhere else.
What are you seeing lately on the web that ticks you off? Anything going on that you especially like? Let’s talk!
Laurie – you are the wind beneath my wings. Love, Carm
Love you, Carmy!
Ugh! I can’t stand those slide shows, grammar/spelling errors and websites that don’t let me leave immediately.
Like the slideshows you mention, I am frustrated by sites that break articles into multiple pages just so they can show more ads. Another thing that bothers me is breaking conventions. Look at these comments. The first ones are the oldest. Some sites have now decided to put the newest first. I don’t even look at the comments on those sites because they are too confusing.
It sure isn’t easy being a website owner anymore. On the one hand, you’re expected to drive traffic to your site, grow influence and Klout, keep people from ‘bouncing’ off your page (the aim is to keep them there for durations of time), encourage and promote conversation in your Comment Stream and pontificate ad nauseum because your personal brand positioning and marketing has led the world to believe you’re THE ONE to go to for *insert expertise here*.
And now, on top of ALL THAT — website owners are supposed to think of the READERS’ experience TOO?!?
One can’t take two clicks without tripping over an Ego or 7 in this realm. It’s really no wonder that the Agendas in question collide … and that the Reader gets the lip service to committed focus.
By the way, I actually like Slide Shows – so, that’s something!
I hate slideshows, too. I might get “roped in” and click on what I think is a top ten list or article, but as soon as I see that first slide, I’M OUTTA THERE!
Unless there is a link on the side saying, “show all slides” then I refuse to look at any more slideshows a page at a time. Seems like it is more of an authoring game to get as many clicks as they can. If it were up to me, these shows would be banned from any site that is also selling third party advertisements. By the way, I like your article!
Thanks, Dennis! Yeah, I hate clicking through all that. My hatred of them started when I was a health blogger, and needed to do a lot of research. I liked to print out source info for reference. Slide shows were the WORST!
I hate ads tailored to my viewing habits. Once I searched for earbuds everywhere, including dozens of them on Amazon. Eventually I bought a pair from Amazon. They knew I was looking for this item and, once I purchased a pair, should have figured out the search had ended. That was over a year ago, and I still get earbuds suggestions all over my Amazon page. They’re not baseball cards or carnival glass, they’re earbuds!