The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Things Websites Do That Are Annoying
There are plenty of beautiful websites out there and some can pull off a simplistic, yet eloquent design that keeps you entertained, is easy on the eyes, but with enough information to satisfy the mind. Other websites may look too busy with a lot of useless information or information that is hard to find. There are professional business websites that need a lot of work or look completely unprofessional which turns a lot of people away.
There are some websites with too many popups, attempts to get visitors to subscribe to emails that seem like spam, and some that load unexceptionally slow, to the point where it is not worth staying on the website any longer.
For anyone who runs a website, the simple rule to follow is: If your children (of Internet-usage age) and family can navigate through the website and actually like the website, than your visitors probably experience the same too. If a single person in your family or one of your children have any complaints about the website, than it is time to rethink your website intentions, your design, or your content.
Here are some common website pet peeves, most of which you hopefully will never see on Confessions of the Professions.
Whoever invented this wonderful tool probably never thought they would release hell and havoc on the population for years to come. Popups are a great way to capture and bring something to the attention of people, but having a popup come up as you are reading an article or just finishing up an article asking you to subscribe to something is just annoying.
A popup with an important message is okay, but a popup that comes up every time you navigate to a new page is just one of the most annoying things in the world and is guaranteed to make all of your visitors leave before they even had a chance to think about staying.
Lacking a Contact Us / About Us page
If a visitor wants to find out information about you or contact you, why would you not make that information public and easy to find? Those lacking this type of information obviously do not want to be contacted and are seen as unprofessional.
If you are a business, you should have your location and a phone number listed. This includes websites that provide an invalid email, an invalid phone number, or a phone number that does not connect you with a real person.
Some websites have thought they would be clever by adding 10 to 15 pages that you have to scroll through in order to discover information or view photos. Why do they do this? A number of reasons, but design probably is not one of them. It is more for advertising and indexing reasons – as the more pages you have – the more pages are going to be indexed in a search engine.
Unless the article or photos are really interesting, visitors are leaving within a few pages. Websites that choose to keep pagination are now starting to offer options to view the article as a Single Page, which is very thoughtful, but the fact that you are making your visitors have to choose this option is just another step towards making them less interested in staying on your website.
Links That Don’t Open In A New Window
Are you serious? Do you want me to leave your website and go somewhere else? Unless the links lead to your own pages on your own website, all external links should always open in a new window. I actually want to stay on your website and explore more after I close the link I clicked on that took me to a completely new website.
The idea is: If you want people to stay on your website longer, than don’t offer the opportunity for them to leave, and if you do have to supply a link that allows someone to leave your website, make sure there is a great chance they return back to your website after they are done with what they are doing.
Misleading Titles and Articles
Everyone can be a writer nowadays and everyone can be a blogger. Any amateur person can write a beautiful exceptional piece of literature that can become a masterpiece overnight and go viral to the world, but an article with a headline that leads the reader to thinking one thing, and then reads something completely different in the article that has nothing to do with the original title is just another one of those pet peeves.
Good content has a headline that matches the article and lets the reader begin to develop thoughts from the headline before they have even set eyes on the actual article.
Bright or Weird Color Combinations
There is a reason why business paper is white, ink is black or blue, highlighters are normally yellow, and mistakes are marked in red. Those colors work for their purposes. With a website, you can be as creative as you want, but stick to the general colors that the human eyes are accustomed to seeing.
Having bright yellow colors on a red background or light colors on a white background that are hardly visible are just annoying, because visitors who are on your website actually want to be there and read your website, but awkward, bright, and weird color combinations are guaranteed to make them leave. It is not that they do not want to stay, but the colors are just hurting their eyes, and they cannot tolerate the pain of your color schemes any longer.
While attention can be put into making a great design for a website, stick to normal colors for humans, especially for the content on your website.
Any websites that says I am a winner, offers some type of prize, or tells me I am a winner for being the 1,000,000th visitor is clearly a spam website. I will not be entering my email address, I will not believe you that I won something, unless you are an authentic website with a good reputation, and I will not be returning ever again back to your lying website. I did not come to your website to win something, I came for information.
Subscribe to Read
I love when people subscribe to my mailing list and I make absolutely no money on anyone for signing up to my Confessions mailing list, because I do not load emails with spam. I send a list of Confessions of the Week for people who want a daily digest and do not want to visit the website every day. I will never make anyone subscribe to anything in order to read it unless I am turning this website into a paid subscription website, which I have no plans to do in the near or distant future.
I respect my visitors and I am grateful for every one of them that stops by, reads an article, and spends more than a minute on Confessions of the Professions.
Never make any of your readers subscribe to read something of yours and that includes enticing them with an annoying popup every time they reach the end of an article. If you want more subscribers and to be less annoying, than add a “subscribe to our newsletter” or “subscribe to our email list” at the top and/or bottom of every article you write.
If your visitors like what you write, they will subscribe to you. Forcing them to subscribe will probably result in people unsubscribing later.
Lack of a Human Sitemap
Maybe your website is small or maybe it really does not have much content on it, but whether it does or not, you should really consider adding a Sitemap to your website to let your visitors discover what is on it, what you have written or done in the past, and to basically let your sitemap serve as some type of archive for your website.
A website that starts automatically playing music is a website that is playing unwanted unnecessary automatic music. It used to be cool when it first came out in the late 90s and a website would play a song or a sound clip, but it was cool for about a day, and that was it. I should not have to turn down or turn my speakers off in order to visit your website.
This includes video ads that automatically play with sound. There is nothing worse than having a dozen tabs open and having some sound clip playing I cannot find until I come to your website, and have to figure out why its playing a sound clip that I never told it to play. If I want music or sound, I go to YouTube, not to your website, unless you are YouTube.
Please get rid of those annoying automatic sounds. I can understand if you want me to listen to a sound clip on your website and I have the ability to click on Play, but that is the only option I want when it comes to playing sound, aside from a Pause or Stop button.
Another thing that the late 90s brought was a website loaded with too many animation images, and that was when Internet was slower and pictures took longer to load! Nowadays, with high speed Internet, you may think you can get away with animated gifs because they will load faster, but again, you are not doing your visitors or readers any favors by adding them.
An occasional gif or two is okay, but a page loaded with them is not, so avoid annoying your visitors with a page full of animated gifs, unless of course, you are a website solely dedicated to delivering animated gifs to your visitors.
Websites with Country Forms
I understand that if you are a business or even just a website catering to the entire world, you want to make sure that you have included every country in the world on your drop down list, but if you know that the majority of your visitors are from the United States or the United Kingdom, is there really a reason or was is it too much trouble for why you did not alter your list so those countries are on top?
Chances are, if you are an English-speaking website, the majority of your visitors are from those countries. There is no need to have to scroll through every country to get to the two English-speaking countries on the bottom of the list because they started with U.
If you are really a more advanced website catering to an audience, than you already know where and where you will not ship to in the world, and you will also know that if you are not getting enough visitors from a specific country, you should probably just go ahead and eliminate their country. Too worried that you will exclude someone?
While I know that you want to think that one customer from a country outside the United States or the United Kingdom is going to help your business, the reality is: It will probably cost you more to ship the item to their country than the actual cost of the time. Even Amazon.com, which ships internationally, will not ship to certain areas of the world.
Websites without Cookie Memory
If a visitor entered in too short a password or forgets to type in their phone number, the next page that alerts them should still show the same exact information and highlighted in red: the missing information. A shopping cart should allow a person to “shop for more” or hit the back button and continue shopping on the website.
The cookies that your website should set will remember what is in the shopping cart or in any field that is filled out, especially if there is a member area and someone is logged into your website. If your website does not set cookies properly or things end up disappearing, the problem is not your visitors, but the problem is your website.
Please be sure that your cookies are working correctly and remembering what is typed in. No one has the time or the patience to keep filling in empty fields that should be pre-filled in upon errors.
Sites that Serve No Purpose
Sometimes sites are designed for simple and specific reasons: You have a portfolio, you have a website dedicated to showing off your beautiful wedding and the wonderful person you married. Other sites may serve as your journal, represent your personality, or even contain articles that you feel the need to write, and want to share with the world. There are plenty of sites, however, that seem to serve no real purpose, contain absolutely no useful information, and there are even sites that seem to just copy or spider the content of other sites, without contributing anything real to the Internet.
While I have a love-hate relationship with Google and their search algorithm, I do understand why Google is the monopoly of Internet search and tries to tell websites what they can and cannot do: They are trying to rid the Internet of spam, and make sure that search results return valid, useful, and knowledgeable content.
Websites that serve no purpose, while Google is making great attempts to drop these lower on the list, there are plenty of websites that are created everyday and continue to bypass Google’s search algorithm for a while, appearing in top results, but really making no contribution to the Internet and serving no real purpose.
If you want a website, make sure you contribute something to the Internet that is unique and represents your vision.
Non-Mobile / Non-Responsive Websites
A few years ago, it would have been perfectly acceptable for your website not to be responsive, not to work on a smartphone, not to work on a regular mobile phone, not change upon the browser size, and it was acceptable for it show up like a normal website on a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device.
Nowadays, with the advancement of CSS technology, your company and your website have no excuse not to have a mobile-friendly design. Your website should be responsive with an adjustable design upon viewing it on any mobile device or any sized screen. It is even okay to have a secondary mobile website in which the website will actually detect a mobile device and switch the person to the correct website.
With a few CSS changes, however, many modern website designs and many websites can be made mobile-friendly. While there are mobile users who will visit a non-responsive site, they most likely would prefer to view a website designed for them, on their mobile device.
Designing a site specifically for mobile makes your company and website more visitor- and user-friendly and you are likely to appeal to the mobile audience. If your website lacks a mobile view, consider making the investment into a mobile-responsive design.
Take a look at this article entitled Responsive Web Design for learning how to use Media Queries for Mobile-Responsive designs.
There are plenty of other website annoyances that I have come across in my daily travels that have design methods that are big pet peeves of mine, and these are just several of them that I have noticed. If you are designing a website and producing content for that website, have human beings in mind.
Think about television commercial advertising: Yes, television commercials are annoying, but having to watch 4 or 5 commercials for about 3 minutes is a lot less annoying than having to sit there and acknowledge each commercial by clicking OK or NO THANKS. There is always the mute button as well or channel surfing which can do well for avoiding commercials. For websites that are annoying, you get the Mute button permanently.
Please be courteous of your visitors and treat them with respect. The more interesting your website and less annoying it is, the more visitors, readers, and fans you will have.
Matthew Gates is a freelance web designer and currently runs Confessions of the Professions.