Five Things I hate about Websites

posted in: Life and things, On writing | 22

There’s a lot of websites in the world these days and we’ve all had our share of experiences in navigating our way around them. I’m no different to any other user – I go to websites looking for stuff and if I don’t find it – I don’t stay. What are the things most likely to turn me off?

1. Have a landing page

You know what I mean? You click on the link and it invites you to ‘click here to enter’. You’re kidding me, aren’t you? Didn’t I just do that? Good luck with your projects…

2. Take more than a few seconds to load

Please understand that I and many other people in this world do not have access to lightning fast broadband. I couldn’t have even if I paid for the mega plan which allows movie downloads. In places like India ‘broadband’ is 256kbps. So although your wonderful, sophisticated site with the video clip and the revolving banner may look good in downtown New York, it’ll take so long to load I’ll go away. Heck, I even give up on trying to edit my own site when it all slows down to turtle speed.

3. Make me use ‘best guess’ to get around

This is (unfortunately) most often true of large, complex sites, like Government departments. Here I am on the home page. I want to know about x. I gaze at the menus, maybe even use the search facility. No x. OK, let’s try this entry on the menu. Surely there’ll be a bit about x there. Nope. Let’s see now… Let me tell you – unless my life depends upon it, I’m not going to stay messing about on your home page looking for the ‘contact’ page or some item on your list of products. If you want to know what I mean, go to a few sites like Brother that manufactures printers and see if you can find how to update your printer driver.

4. Bombard me with ads

I know people take advantage of paid ads on their sites. I understand. But there’s a limit. I particularly hate the ‘you are our 5 millionth customer – click here to see what you’ve won’. Yes, I can prevent some of these and I don’t get most pop-ups but I doubt you could filter them all. And having to go through an ad (like a landing page) to get to your site? Sorry, you’ll have to do without my patronage.

5. Don’t bother about spelling and grammar

A word to the wise; read your copy aloud. I’m likely to stay on your home page for long enough to find what I want or not at all. I’m unlikely to want to read a few pages of sanctimonious statements about your desire to offer the very best service and a list of your KPI’s. Get your message out briefly (like in less than 500 words) and make sure it is grammatically correct and that there are no spelling mistakes. I’m an Australian – you can use American or English spelling – as long as it’s correct.

Okay, rant over. What things about websites get up your nose? And yes, I will write a post about things you could do to make your visitors’ web experience the best you can manage.

22 Responses

  1. Reb

    I went in and did a major overhaul working to make things EASY, CLEAR, SIMPLE. It’s “better.” But I’m going to abandon it when I get the time, and do something else. I’m convinced there is an evil spell or aura placed on Flash sites. A palpable disgust. If only I had known that would happen before I created a very labor intensive site. Now, I hasten to add that I use absolutely no Flash whatsoever on my site. But as it is built on a Flash site, it’s still affected. Somehow. One thing this made me do: come up with a new title for one of the books. That’s been needing to be done! I used your post and I also Googled other people’s thoughts on websites–there’s a LOT on this subject.

  2. Reb

    Dang. I’m guilty of more than one crime mentioned here. Landing page? Yes. I had this idea that it would set a mood. And I liked the little round clicky thing saying “come in.” I don’t know about loading times but it wouldn’t surprise me to hear pages take a few seconds to load. Thank god I have no cutsie animation or music (I learned that one early on) and although my pages are built at a flash site, there is no flash on any of mine. There’s another thing I never even thought of–I don’t make it clear that my books aren’t yet available. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

  3. Gabriella Hewitt

    Great post. I’m scheduled to do updates/maintenance and possibly a bit of redesign on my website in November.It’s the book page that I’m thinking to redesign and I want to get it right.

    I agree with just about everything everyone said. When it comes to author pages, the Enter button drives me a little bonkers. Very busy sites with lots of text and pictures all over the page also, have me jumping ship. And yes, blogs that won’t allow you to comment unless you belong to certain groups has me leaving right away.

    Website operate for a number of reasons, some to be purely informative, others part entertainment. If you want people to hang around you need to have a consistent message and create a place people will want to explore, and more importantly come back again.

  4. Greta van der Rol

    A friend tried to leave a comment without success. So here it is, copied from FaceBook, courtesy M.M. Bennetts.

    I left you a comment, but the site ate it–that’s another thing I hate about websites, when they make it hard to sign in or leave a comment and then if you don’t do everything the way they want it they post an error thingie, but there’s no way to escape from it and still keep the comment.

    And yes, I agree with this one, too.

  5. Greta van der Rol

    It’s your site, Mary. If you want to attract people who like cello music, fine. I think I’d recommend an option to turn it off, though, as you’ll have picked up from the comments here :).

  6. Greta van der Rol

    Thank Many, Cindy and Carol. You’ve added really valuable points. I do so hope people are reading these comments and thinking about their own blogs/sites. Thank you.

  7. Shelley Munro

    Music is a huge turnoff for me because it’s not work safe.
    Websites that are very busy aren’t my favorites either and I think color choice is very important. Good post.

  8. Cindy Carroll

    Yes I agree with all of these. I also don’t like websites/blogs where you have to be a member to comment. I refuse to become a member to comment. And I hate Blogger blogs where the person hasn’t allowed Name/URL as a comment option. I will not log into my Google account to comment on a blog. Sorry.

    Confusing layouts bug me. I tried to make mine easy to navigate. And I want to redesign it to make it better.

    Colours are a big thing for me too. Colours that are pleasing and don’t clash. Websites with black backgrounds and white text get closed automatically by me.

    Websites with no way to contact the person/company. And if it’s a company you should have a contact page with the address, phone number and email for people to contact you. Or address, phone number and a contact form.

  9. mandyeward

    I hate all these things too, Greta, so I make an effort to ensure that both my websites (my author one and my webzine one) are easy to navigate.

    However, I am always surprised by the number of people who seem to ignore the menu bar on them. It appears on every page, so it should make them easy to navigate.

    My author one is easy – you land on my blog page, the “about” option has a drop down list of all the things about me that you can possibly want to look at and there is a page for each of my books that I am promoting.

    The webzine is more complex (I tried to keep it simple, honest!) but that’s because it’s a complex site – I have a lot of stories, articles and poetry there, as well as archives and other permanent pages. I apologise if it takes ages to download – I can’t help that!

    Feel free to come over and help me sort out any problems you may find – you are an expert after all! *grins^

  10. pattyjansen

    play music = instant back button

    pop-up ads!

    Moving ads!

    ask me to sign up as member before I can buy/browse

    play a video without asking me

    are coy about postage (as in: can’t fucking find any info on whether I have to pay and how much)

  11. Brinda

    I agree that the music playing is the worst. I also don’t care for the “games” on a site. That is not why I visit most sites (unless it really is a game site).

  12. Pat Brown (@pabrown)

    People also need to make their web sites easy to navigate. Make sure they can get any where they want and leave easily. And every page should have links to get to any other page.

    I’m amazed when I look up an author and they have no buy links on the Home page. You need to put the product front and center. Anything that makes a browser have to look around, or think will lose people and they won’t bookmark your page. The ‘I want it now!’ crowd grows larger. We’ve become so used to things being fast. Instant gratification.

  13. Pat Brown (@pabrown)

    What puts me off are web sites that play music the minute you enter them. Even worse, are the one that don’t have a stop button. Even if the music is something I like,– it rarely is — I didn’t surf to your site to listen to music.

    The same with Flash animation. Give a Skip button. Basically anything that makes me wait or click on too many other other buttons will make me shut the site down and go somewhere else.

  14. MonaKarel

    Cutesy animation, especially the kind that “follows” the mouse. When it first came out, it was innovative, now it’s just irritating. Plus slow to download. Absolutely agree on the sites that require you to be intuitive to find anything. Though this does follow along the same lines as going to “start” to turn the computer off.

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