I really, really have to wonder about some website developers. Do they ever test anything on real people? This is going to be my list of gripes, but when I mention these cases (especially the last one) to others, I get a chorus of violent agreement. I sure wish somebody would take note.
1. Show me a landing page
“Hi there, welcome to Acme Spare Parts, Bits and Bobs. Press here to enter our site.” FFS people. Why make it twice as hard? I already clicked on a link to get here. Show me what I want to see!
2. Play stuff at me
So I click a link to your site, and somebody talks at me. Whoa. We only just met. Get your virtual foot out of my virtual door.I prefer to read your offering, not listen to it. Or maybe you play music. Don’t. Just don’t. Or the increasingly common one on news sites. Yes, OK, I opened up a newspaper article. But that doesn’t give them the right to automatically start showing me a newscast. If I have to click the damn thing to stop it, why not let me click it to start it? And no, it’s not the same as making me click twice as above. I’m where I want to be. Now it’s up to me if I want to read the article, view the footage, or both.
3. Make me work to read your stuff
I recently clicked into an article which promised to show me the difference between people’s perceptions, and the reality of what they thought. It was about things like how many girls under 16 became pregnant, and similar judgemental factoids. “This is what people thought,” it proclaimed (let’s say 13%). Then I was shown a button. “Click here to find out the actual percentage.” (Less than 1%, for those interested.) And so it went on. How many times did I click on the “truth” button? Twice. I suddenly found I really wasn’t that interested, and went back to looking at cat pictures on Facebook.
4. Ask me to login to comment
Look, I hate captcha screens (you know the ones, prove you’re not a robot by deciphering these barely legible letters/numbers). However, I do understand the problem with spam. I don’t use captcha. I have Akismet, a rather good WordPress anti-spam application, on my site, and spam isn’t a huge problem. I go in every week or so and clear the spam Akismet has collected. Yes, I’ll wrestle (briefly) with a captcha screen – but don’t ask me to register to leave a comment. I’m outta there. (Back to cat pictures on FB)
5. Try to drag me in with ‘one weird tip’ then force me to endure a lecture
There’s a few of those around, often to do with weight loss. So you click, expecting something brief and to the point. What you get is somebody telling you why they’re right and everybody else is wrong – for five blasted minutes. Then they do the big sell. If you sign up for these programs (yeah, OK, I admit it) you’re then constantly bombarded with similar content, presented in the same way, to persuade you to buy supplements and other forms of snake oil.
6. Ask me to ‘subscribe’ as soon as I click into your site
Uh… no. I know that’s what they say to do in all the website sales doco, but to me, that’s just as much a hard sell as the ‘one weird tip’ approach. Make it worth my while over time to visit your site, and I might subscribe, but not because you shove the ‘sign here’ in my face. That’s like a salesman with his foot in the door.
7. And my favourite…
I’m reading an article. Halfway through reading, a screen appears, almost obscuring the words. ‘Like what you see, subscribe’. Can you hear the screaming, web designers? No? Come to my place and listen.
Enough with the hard sell tactics. Sure, offer me a subscription on your side panel, or suggest I might like your newsletter – and if I do, I get a dozen virtual cupcakes. But if you shove that stuff in my face, I’ll suddenly develop a craving for (you guessed it) cat pictures on Facebook. Having been a website designer in the past, let me give you one huge tip. TEST YOUR SYSTEM ON REAL PEOPLE. You may just find that some of your whizz-bangery leaves the people you’re trying to attract so cold they’ll join me with the cats on Facebook.
by Greta van der Rol