Top things that can make a surfer HATE your website

Just for the heck of it, took a stroll along the web to see if the "top 10 things I hate about your website" no no's had changed any in the past year or so, and found that I am no longer alone in some of my personal pet peeves, as a lot of them are now showing up on the lists of.. "things that annoy" the web visitor. I had to go beyond the usual "top ten things" as the list has grown. The following list is by no means complete.

Now, are all of these things absolutely a Not, and or "never do" ? No, just if for any reason you must use any one of them ( like myself I have often put in a few of these things on sites I have built, because the client wanted them ) so any one or two things alone, you might be forgiven them, but have several or worse, have em all at once.. is the ultimate kiss of death to any website.

So, according to all the surveys, gleaned from information world wide, the things to limit or avoid entirely are:

The need to install extra software to view a site
Now, this can be anything from font files, to the need for updated java, browser, etc. in order to view the site.. its what can happen if you are on the bleeding edge of the webmasters art, you might be able to build it, but not everybody who walks in the door is going to be able to view it without updates or out and out installs.. and news, almost no one is going to do this just to look at YOUR site .. there are way too many others for them to see that wont make them do this. It's a very old adage that says, "just because a thing can be done, doesn't mean it should be done".

Registration pages that block content
This one is a real pain, this is not just the sales sites that wont let you order a thing, without registering, this is about those sites that tease you with just a blurb of information and then say .. read more Only to hit that link and get told you have to register first, or join their membership, before you can read it ! My reaction and most peoples reaction to this is the same.. forget you and click goes the mouse, with force I might add.. and often a few choice words not fit for polite company :) ... people really really don't like this.

Slow-loading pages
As has been said many times, too slow and it's a no go.. people are not going to wait around for a turtle to load up, so keep it lean and simple.

Out of date content
Now this is a new one.. added to the list of no nos which I have always found it a bit annoying, but I guess a lot of others are starting to feel the same way too, at least to where it's making the charts.

Now some things don't change, true, but if the site never changes? Never has anything new added ? It just sits there getting staler and staler as time goes on, pretty soon it's a matter of ok, been here, read all this.. what else ya got ? The outdated site has no answer. So update at least every once in a while, even if it's just to update the colors.

Confusing navigation
Said it before and I will say it again, do not make the client have to figure out where the navigation is, nor do you want too many choices on the page. We have all seen pages that have the navigation up top, down low, on the side, embedded, all at the same time !

If the viewer has too many choices they are going to be confused. Use the same navigation form, every time, all the time if at all possible, if you have the navigation at the top of the page on the front page and the return home link on the bottom, then do so for every page you have, don't make them have to look for it. Likewise, don't overload it with too many choices at one whack, break the navigation up if needed into sub menu pages, other wise you can end up with the equivalent of your entire site map as the navigation.

Ineffective site search tools
A proper search tool will give you the best bet, first. Meaning if you put in X word or phase, the first pages listed should be the closest match. Now, most search engines, even the big boys, will start to lose that match after a dozen or so pages, and anyone who uses an engine knows this, but many on site search engines don't do this kind of priority matching. So make sure to use one that gives the highest matches, first.

No contact information available
Now this should speak for itself, it's called credibility. No way to get a hold of you, and your credibility goes through the floor.

Broken Links
Hit the link and nothing happens. It does happen from time to time, after all your host is a hard drive, just like yours, and it can lose things once in a while. So test the site, there are lots of good tools out there to do it for you, and or, at least once in a while, hit every link you have and make sure they all work and all are going where they belong.

Pop Ups
Now, given that almost everyone has a pop killer now a days, this is almost a waste of time to use them at all. And worse, most things done this way, don't warn the viewer it's about to do it.

It's annoying and irritating to most viewers to have to hit control or whatever to make the window come up, often to find that the content of the pop up could have just as easily been placed on its own page, so unless there is a real reason for it, don't use them and if you must use them, warn the viewer first.

Flash Intros
that provide no real information, especially if there is no way to skip it, this is time wasting and by and large a nuisance.

Splash Pages
of nothing but an image and an enter here link.. this is time wasteing, the party came to see the site, and your making them wait for no good reason, not to mention a splash page that contains no keywords or link data, is nearly useless for search engine indexing, so it's not only wasting your viewers time, it's wasting your hosting space, as it's not going to index well, as there is no text data on the page.

Music –
Unless you are selling music, this is a not in most cases. In particular if the music is on an endless loop, as once is one thing, even twice, but to have some often poor quality wav file playing over and over can be nerve racking and a distraction.

Anything that moves:
Ad banners, things following the cursor, etc. Way over done, they are distraction and most people are tired of them. There are legitimate ways to use such things tastefully and to good purpose, but just because you can ? No, its considered tacky and annoying to most of your viewers.

Javascript Links

Here's about annoying, you see a link , you try and right click to open it in a new window and it fails, why because it's java script and it wont let you do that. But, as soon as you click it in the normal manner, it opens in a new window, which is what you wanted to do in the first place @! Gurrrrr

I have only one question, what reasonable purpose does this serve ? Answer, most often, it doesn't, it's just a scripting trick that serves no real purpose, do this enough and you can really annoy your viewer.

Links to PDF files without warning that it's a PDF file.
Now, this one recently got added to the lists that has always been a personal peeve of mine. Annoys me to no end to click a link, expecting to be taken to another page and suddenly the thing is trying to download something or open my PDF reader. Do not surprise the viewer like this. Also, use PDF files only if they are really needed, most PDF files are intended for something to print out, like manuals or help files, and on occasion, E books. But it's not suitable for general web content and most certainly should not be used without warning the viewer what clicking that link is going to do.

Make this your home page!
Now, these little gems often pop up before the page even loads for one thing, so they fall under the pop up rule. Two, unless you are an engine or a portal, why would anyone "want" to make your page their home page ? If they like it that much, they will do so of their own accord, but to offer/ask for it is considered rude.

Text That Moves
Other than a very few things, like amber alerts and the like, moving text is just plain bothersome to most people, and not only that, do enough of this and you can drive your viewer away with a screaming headache.

Too Little Content , don't tell them enough. There are sites out there that have so little real content, it's almost impossible to say what it is they do. If I can't figure out what you do or offer, in the first 5 seconds after I hit your main page, there is not enough content.

Too Much Content , tell them way too much and make them have to dig for relevant information. Short, simple and to the point is the rule. There are sites that defy this, but it's well known they will do it and its expected they will do it, like academic sites and book sites etc., but the exceptions are few.

No right click scripts:
Now, on this one I will personally argue with the surveys on having them period, as they can be a very useful navigation tool, but they have to be used correctly. What most people mean is a no right click where their is no way to open a new window for content, and often the viewer is not even told about it.

This is easy to remedy, you simply tell the link to open in a new window automatically. If you don't to this however, you have forced the viewer into running back and forth like a mad man from menu to object and back again, so the no right click becomes a complete bother without taking steps to assure the viewer does not HAVE to do this.

How Users Read on the Web
By and large, Most people don't really "read" as we normally consider the term, unless there is good motivation to do so. Like I hope your reading all of this page :)

People rarely read Web pages word by word, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences that are relevant to them and the information they are looking for.

As a result, Web pages have to employ scannable text.

Highlighted keywords ( typeface variations like italics, and color are a few ways to do that as you see both examples on this page )

Bulleted lists
The plain old
order that makes things easy to scan

One idea per paragraph and each paragraph set off a bit to itself, makes things easy to find and easy to read.

The inverted pyramid style of writing, starting the page with the intended conclusion and then discussing it.. as you saw a the top of the page.

Spelling and Grammar:
Now this one is another I will argue with somewhat, as the web is not a book, it's not intended to be printed, so a certain amount of laxity in the "normal" rules is almost a must, as the above indicates, we would be wasting page space to do this in printed form, but the web form demands it. And, yes, proper spelling is right and proper, but intent is what matters. If the meaning is conveyed, the communication has succeeded, even if the strict grammatical rules have not been followed. The web is one of the few places where this is not only acceptable, it's often desirable for the "look". For example, periods behind every sentence in a poem, disrupts the flow, not aids it.. so there are times to break the rules.

But even I will admit that I have seen and been annoyed by very poorly written missives on the web, that lead one to wonder about the party who wrote it, the frist thought is, they are careless.

So, if your intention is to present yourself as serious, you have to present well and that includes spelling and proper grammar. However, do realize the "rules" for the web are very different than print. And that if the message is conveyed clearly, then even if the "style" of writing is not your personal cup of tea, it's still valid.

Point in fact, spell checkers don't catch everything and it's hard to proof read your own work, as you know what's supposed to be there, so take an error or two with a grain of salt, rather than punitive action and open condemnation of the site as a whole for this one aspect alone. Especially on personal sites.

Things people generally don't want to read on the Web

Avoid as much as possible, "Marketese"; promotional garbage buzz words, with boastful claims ( hottest ever or New new new...! ) that is currently way over used on the Web. Surfers are busy people, they want to get to the facts and have no need or desire for all the hyperbole. I can not count the number of sites I have been on, where I find myself saying "yeah yeah yeah... get to the product already will ya ! ".

If I want the product, I want information, not some Ad designers Idea of "how to get my attention". The day of flashy commercials is dead, and it's time the promoters wake up to the fact that the majority of the net population is sick and tired of it, and to stop insulting our intellect with their overdone sales pitch. Unfortunately, they have not woken up to this fact yet. For your own sake, when thinking of site design, do not emulate these people who are the dinosaurs of the information highway.

Impolite words:
Now, this is another one that depends on the severity and whose your reader. If the site is locked behind an adults only doorway, then only adults should be reading it. If however it's out in plain view for all comers, there are issues. Mild curse words are generally accepted but "stronger" words or words of a sexual nature ( unless on a sex related site ) are frowned on for open viewing.

The one place that seems to be rife with this issue are blogs. I cannot count the number of blog entries I have seen that literally scream in "bad" language, or "adult" details, out in plain view. People don't seem to realize that yes, their blog is their personal soap box, but their soap box is like standing on that box at high noon in the town square and shouting at the top of their lungs. It is not private, unless it's a members only blog.

Put in a disclaimer for age limits to view your site, warnings, etc. as needed. In fact, almost all personal sites should have such disclaimers and ratings, just like we do for our movies. As a rule however, if the first thing a viewer sees when they hit your front door are Impolite words, unless they fully well expected it, your bound to offend people. Also, take note, many search engines will not index your site if they find too many "stop" words, unless you have meta tags that specify adult content for the site.

If people get annoyed with a website, here's what they're most likely to do according to the surveys, in order of prevalence.

# one answer is ?
Refuse to visit the site again .. over 75%

Unsubscribe to promotions from the company
Kiss your newsletter and any other subs goodbye

Refuse to purchase from the website
They are not even going there !

Complain about the website to other people
At least half of them will bad mouth you to others

Refuse to purchase from the company's real live store
The other half wont even go to your real live shop !

Do nothing

Complain to the company itself

So you see, the main thing they will do is, as I have always maintained.. is leave and never come back if you distress them too much. And the last one, tell you the company, is the lowest percentage of actions they might take, so, as with real live shops, people vote with their feet, ( or in this case, their mouse) and you, the company, will only find out about a very tiny percentage of those who are dissatisfied.

Now, a word to the wise here, if you do get any notices of dissatisfied viewers, take it very very seriously, as like our real live cousins, for each one of those you do get, there are 3 others your not getting, who just walked away and you have no way to find out about them, so assume every complaint letter is times four at the very least.

More soon

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