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Top Ten Things People Hate About Websites

Revised March 2008 [JY]

10. Flash Intros
Flash intros are those irritating short animations that act as a self-promotional animated commercial before the website begins – often with a well-worn “skip intro” button. This is the equivalent of stopping everyone before they entered your store and forcing them to hear an hyperkinetic pitch on why your store is the greatest thing since oxygen. They have already decided to come to your website so let them in. Animation itself is not a bad thing to have on a website but it should be a secondary focus to the information and navigation and serve essentially the same role as an enhanced branding image.

9. Background Music
In the usability tests I did as a usability researcher in London every single user turned off the sound immediately on websites with background sound. One hundred and three randomly selected users all agreed on one thing. They didn’t like background sound. Spend your web dollars on something else.

8. Framesets
Framesets are effectively a single website that is actually comprised of several different pages (for example: one for the navigation, one for the content, one for the banner). Often these pages will give themselves away by having a scrollbar in the browser that begins a little way down the page – often where the banner ends and the content begins. The advantage is that pages with a lot of content can scroll independent of the navigation and banner. The downside is that a search engine registers the website pages separately and the most text heavy areas (the content) are most likely to be ranked highest. This means that you could easily have a situation where someone Googles your website, finds a promising link, clicks on it and is taken to a content page only. No navigation. No branding. Just text. No way to get to the rest of your website. Don’t use them.

7. Flash Only Websites
Never use Flash if you can replicate the effect in non-Flash core web tools such as CSS and DHTML. Unless your website is dependent upon selling a particular mood rather than information (Evian.com, Coca-Cola.com, etc.) then use Flash only where nothing else will do or if animation is key to your website. Flash requires a plug-in, doesn’t allow for alternate printing styles (e.g. if you want your black background to be white when printed), often doesn’t allow text selection and doesn’t allow right click menu options. Moreover, search engines are very unkind to Flash websites as search engines cannot ‘see’ the text in Flash movies and hence will not rank based on that text.

6. Slow Loading Websites or Files
This is a perennial and obvious folly. Just because almost all users are on basic DSL (128k) lines does not mean that you can put your print quality 6 MB PDF on the website. The rules still apply: on average, users will quit a page if it takes longer than 7 seconds. Keep files under 1 MB and preferably less than 500k.

5. Too Much Text
Website users don’t read on the web. They scan. Chop out unnecessary content and roll your thoughts into small little paragraphs, making use of bulleted lists where possible. Writing for the web is much more like writing for a newspaper than a magazine. Ideally, summarize your main points in the initial paragraph. Read our article How Users Read On The Web

4. Bad Search Engines
Search engines that consistently return poor results should be removed. For instance, when I searched for “Bermuda Paint” on a local Bermuda search engine, the number one result was Applied Computer Technologies. To protect yourself against this, have several users who are not in your company use the website. You’ll be surprised at how differently their minds work. Work with your web partner to ensure that perfect string matches are prioritized e.g. searching for “smith” should bring up results for “smith” first and then “Smiths”, “Smithsonian” etc.

4. No Give And Take
People are private. They don’t give up information easily. Even basic things like an email address. So you must let the user know why you want the information and what they get in return. If they will receive special offers, tell them. Toys-R-Us used to ask users for their post code before they showed them products. Only a trickle of users made it through to the products. After a usability study, they found that if they told the user that this was so they could show toys and special offers found in nearby stores, users happily gave up the information and went on to the products pages. Online sales went up over 100%.

2. Long Forms
Ask for as little information as possible. If users are signing up for email newsletters or special offers, ideally ask only for an email address and possibly a name (although asking for the latter lowers your sign up rate by 10% on average). If you cannot lower the amount of information such as in a loan application form, try breaking it up into several pages, letting the user know what step they are currently on and how many they have in total.

1. Poor Navigation
This is definitely number one. Users hate to feel lost. That is basically what caused the pen through the screen incident alluded to earlier.

  • Your primary navigation should be available on every page including a homepage link (users always want to go home) and should be horizontal near the top of the page or on the left hand side.
  • Clicking on your logo should take the user to your homepage.
  • Your page should be clearly titled the same as the navigation link the user clicked on
  • On very large sites with many levels, you should include breadcrumbs such as Books > Fiction to let the user know where they are.
  • Label your links in an obvious fashion – too often I see links titled “Information”
  • Avoid “mystery meat” navigation where I mouse over unobvious portions of the screen and find it is a link. It may be cool to have these hidden links but ensure there is also a very obvious way to get to the same information.

Follow these rules and you will spare a few more computers from needless death by frustrated users. Oh, and your customers will like it too.

 

Take me back to the top

Required Reading

Search Engines: Getting on top
Every company wants to be ranked number one. read article»
Starting From Scratch
Never built a website? Where do you begin? read article»
Top 10 Web Pet Peeves
Avoid these pitfalls. read article»
How Users Read on the Web
They don't. So how should you write for them? Learn more»
 
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Bermedia - web design bermuda, website design bermuda, application design bermuda, websites, usability, user centered design, .NET bermuda, CD9Design, CD9

Bermedia - web design bermuda, website design bermuda, application design bermuda, websites, usability, user centered design, .NET bermuda, CD9Design, CD9

Bermedia - web design bermuda, website design bermuda, application design bermuda, websites, usability, user centered design, .NET bermuda, CD9Design, CD9

Bermedia - web design bermuda, website design bermuda, application design bermuda, websites, usability, user centered design, .NET bermuda, CD9Design, CD9

Bermedia - web design bermuda, website design bermuda, application design bermuda, websites, usability, user centered design, .NET bermuda, CD9Design, CD9

Bermedia - web design bermuda, website design bermuda, application design bermuda, websites, usability, user centered design, .NET bermuda, CD9Design, CD9