10 Ways to Annoy the Heck out of Your Visitors

If you’re a webmaster designing a website, there are 10 things you should NOT do unless seriously annoy you’re users. These things include (in no particular order):

  1. Pop-up ads. Don’t even think about it! They may pay well, but most people totally hate having a small window with something as stupid as an advertisement launched right into their face. Admit it, you have a pop-up blocker installed on your computer.
  2. Dark text on a dark background. Does it make any sense to have dark gray text on a black background? NO! You need to make sure that the text is legible. After all, what do you normally do on a website? You read it! You should also note that some people’s monitors display things differently. If I design something that looks great on my CRT, it will likely looked washed out on a Dell Dimension D510’s LCD screen.
  3. Full-Flash websites. Do NOT even consider making your entire website in Adobe Flash. It will take too long to load, search engines will be totally blind to your content, and your users will not like your weird navigation scheme. It’s okay to put Flash on your site, but don’t make the entire site out of it (if you insist on making the site entirely with Flash, at least make an alternate non-flash version). *cough* Warner Brothers *cough*.
  4. Demanding IE. Do not ever demand that your users use Internet Explorer. A large percentage of web users use browsers other than Internet Explorer. Demanding IE will infuriate them. Take Wal-Mart’s video downloads site for example. It launched in Early February and they demanded that users use IE. Guess what? Their site is anything but a success. I use Firefox, and I can’t stand IE. Make sure your site works in Firefox!
  5. Backgrond music. Don’t. Background music takes a long time to load, then proceeds to drive you’re users slowly insane. Put it this way: Do you want Beethoven’s 5th Symphony blasting through your speakers suddenly, just because some webmaster thought it would be cool?
  6. Amateurish practices. Do not make your site look like it was thrown together by Yahoo Geocities’s stupid WYSMBWYGSO (What You See May Be What You Get. Sort Of) editor. Learn HTML and CSS, then make a layout (if you can’t do that, get one from a template site). You’re site should look professional (example: this site) not like a seven-year-old threw it together (example: the 1996 Lego Website). On a similar note, if you must use a free webhost, use one like Awardspace.com. There should be NO ads that are, uh, added by the host (forced ads), and you should have PHP and MySQL access too.
  7. Stupid JavaScript tricks. Aaaaaaaaaaaah!!! People will run away screaming if they see more blinking text, “cursor trails”, or other weird tricks. Don’t disable people’s right-mouse-buttons either. I’m not complaining about JavaScript, just stupid pointless things done with it. I’m a big AJAX fan.
  8. Navigation. Any site should have navigational links on either a sidebar or a “topbar”. The links should not be “broken” and they should be structured in a logical manner that will help your users find what they want. Search tools are useful too. Your visitors shouldn’t feel like they’re stumbling through the middle of nowhere without a map.
  9. Excessive.use.of.dots.in.your.url. If i have to type Del.icio.us or Script.aculo.us one more time I’m going to throw up. Where does the first dot go again? How many dots are there? Aaaagh! “Subdomain Tricks” like this are okay if done correctly, but they annoy a lot of people if they aren’t. Some examples of good ones are: mail.yahoo.com, redwallhp.ntugo.com, ma.gnolia.com, etc. Subdomains are a useful and tool (redwallhp.ntugo.com or you.blogspot.com), but only if used correctly. The URL must be formed in a way that’s easy to remember and type. Oh well, at least it’s better than some of those library and governmental websites like www.bpl.lib.me.us.
  10. Registration for pointless reasons. Don’t make people sign-up just so they can see what’s on your site. Suppose someone sends me a link to a news article that’s allegedly interesting. I shouldn’t have to register just to read it. The websites for “traditional” print publications are the biggest offenders here. The same goes for things like polls. To vote on a poll, you should just be able to click your choice without logging in to anything.

Well there have it, 10 bits of advice you should follow to avoid annoying your potential users.

Originally posted on Feb 18, 2007 on my old blog.