The Web has always been an exercise in frustration with all of the varied markup and layout changes we have seen over the years. Yet for the most part, many sites still remain readable and easy to use. Despite this, there are stil some alarming trends in Web design that I cannot let go unmentioned. Let us see if they are as annoying for my readers as they are for me. Some are advertising related. Others are just plain old bad design ideas. In no uncertain order, here are my pet peeves in Web design.
1. Mid-article advertising. You may be reading a few paragraphs in an article, only to come across an often unrelated single line, which is a hyperlink to other content they want us to read. For me, that is just one more intrusion on my reading process, and one more thing I have to learn how to tune out. Note to designers: stop distracting me. I won’t click anyway.
2A. Pop-ups are bad; animated pop-ups, especially those that chase me around a page (you know, those annoying little JQuery boxes that stick to your page even as you try to scroll away from them), are a whole new level of annoying. No, I don’t want to take advantage of your special offer. No, I don’t want to chat online with customer service. Note to designers: you really know how to piss someone off, don’t you?
3. The auto-loading neverending page. Some sites now insist on loading more into the page, the further you scroll down. Sorry, I still like to come to the end of a page, especially if there are helpful links at the bottom. Especially if your site is graphic-heavy, you will be slowing down your users’ computers, no matter how fast they are. Whoever decided we needed to auto-load addtional content, rather than paginate, obviously did not take into account the simple concept of usability. Note to designers: Stop. Please.
4. Stop linking every single page, every single element, to social media. I don’t care if anyone “liked” it on Fecesbook. I don’t want to retweet it. I understand others might, but must it now be so prominent that it seems like your Web site is nothing more than a front-end for your social media presence? It should be the other way around. Note to designers: tone it down. Several notches.
5. Slideshows. No, not an image gallery where images appear one by one. I’m talking about those article that enumerate their titles (like I’ve done here), and make each point in the article a separate “slide”. More often than not, it takes several seconds to load each slide. It is cumbersome and time-wasting to read. I only have so much patience, and if it takes me 15 minutes to scan your miserable slideshow page by page vs. an article I could have read in three minutes, you can bet I’ll be clicking away early. And we know your true intent: your ten “slides” are nine more opportunities to shove your advertising at me. Note to designers: slide shows are annoying. Even so, use JQuery, AJAX, etc. to create slides that load instantly within the same page container. Making us reload pages constantly is, like, 1999.
6. Your Web site is not Pinterest. One of the most disturbing trends in page layout is the Pinterest style of layout, where items are haphazardly tossed across three or more columns with no consistency. Maybe it’s OK for random images, but if you are presenting serious content, it makes your page busy and unreadable. The human eye is used to reading vertically, in an orderly fashion. Spewing content across the page is not an improvement. Note to designers: seriously??
7. Download an app. Um, no thanks. Instead, take some initiative and make your Web site responsive, so that it displays properly on all devices. Smartphone users do not need more clutter in the way of “apps” (which in many cases, are just dumbed-down web browsers showing limited content) littering their phones. For commerce sites, visitors also knows what this means: it’s a small block of advertising these companies are depositing on their phones, with their consent. Note to designers: get with this decade and make your sites responsive. Forcing us to download apps, or zoom in/out/around to view your “full” site, is sloppy. And lazy.
Have you seen some sites that fall short on one or all of these? Let us know–expose them in the comments!