5 Things On Web Sites That Drive Me Crazy

10 Oct 2013 by Gordon
8 Comments
The number 5 surrounded by down arrows

This image should not to be mistaken for a five-year-old's birthday card

Maybe it’s that time of year and the slow descent into the dark, wet, cold abyss that is the Scottish winter but I’m suddenly feeling all curmudgeonly. Thus what better blog post to write than one about ‘features’ on web sites that really tick me off. Y’know, grind my gears. Yank my crank. Get my goat. Push my buttons. Burn my bacon. Chap my ass… OK, I’ll stop now.

Obtrusive app notifications

Now, I’m not completely immune to the charm of pimping one’s app when browsing the corresponding site on a mobile or tablet. A little notification isn’t a bad thing and there are plenty of folk out there who would rather use an online service via an app than a responsive web site (assuming it offers better features, that is). Still, there’s a fine line between ‘notification’ and ‘constant homepage redirect’. And yes, Google+ I’m looking squarely at you.

Google, bless them, must be darn proud of their Google+ iPad app because they’ve decided that the standard little notification at the top of the screen wasn’t enough for them now. No sir, they need to redirect you to a complete frickin’ full-blown splash page. Every. Single. Time.

And the sad thing is, I still visit the site on my iPad every day (to my even further irritation).

Pagination instead of scrolling

*Thud* as heads slams against desk. Seriously? It’s 2013 and people – and by that I mean rather popular gossip sites – still split up their articles over multiple pages? So instead of loading a single page and reading it in its entirety, you’re forced to load page after page after page of 200 word articles just so you can actually see who the top 20th best dressed male at the Oscars this year was. C’mon…

In a throwback to the ancient and ridiculous notion of keeping everything above the fold, some sites still insist of pagination instead of scrolling and it boggles my mind. The web is designed for scrolling. Mice scroll. Touch screen scroll. I spend half my life rubbing the front of my iPad like a demented DJ and, y’know what, it happens to be work really darn well.

Stock photography

Call me a coldhearted emotionless machine but the sight of two business people in a blatantly obvious staged photo shaking hands togethers does absolutely nothing for me. Neither does the multicultural group shot of suited models looking directly into the camera. Nor the attractive women with a headset and mic on, flashing you a cheeky little smirk (you know the photo I mean).

Although I concede some stocks photography has its benefit and that sourcing the real thing isn’t always possible but, in my opinion (personal and professional), it should be avoided as much as possible. At least the really cliché ones. Use your imagination instead; there are other ways to represent an accountancy firm than images of dollar bills, large safes and contemplative goldfish.

Password facism

Call me a Darwinist but I think if you’re online banking password is ‘password’ then you probably deserve to be hacked. Joking aside, I take online security very seriously and believe firmly in strong passwords but there comes a time and point when every individual needs to make their own decisions in life. Plus, there’s nothing worse than finding out that one of your standard (and already very secure passwords) doesn’t happen to fit the exact pattern that a new site prescribes. All that happens in that instance is you enter something you immediately forget or – even worse – are forced to write it down on a piece that anyone in the room could take.

So please, please don’t force us into highly ridiculous and traumatic password combinations. Instead, why not just score us on how secure you think our suggested password actually is before we submit it. At least then we’ll be making informed decisions of our own with full knowledge of the consequences - like real grown ups.

Too much JavaScript

I love JavaScript and am a great advocate for its use in enhancing web sites. It is also, I reckon, probably the language that is driving the web forward the most. Still, my favourite type of JavaScript is invisible JavaScript. Give me subtle enhancements, clever details, usability improvements and features that just work. Don’t give me a slow browser, crash my iPad, or try to do crazy things like radically reconfiguring entire sections of pages. I know it’s tempting and can be hard to avoid but trust me, sites – and the user experience – are usually better of for it.

Let me put it this way: you know what else people really like? Cake. Cake is delicious and I personally could eat it all day long. But what does gorging yourself on too much cake give you? Diabetes. Too much of a good thing isn’t always, well, a good thing.

So there you have my top five web site bugbears. What are yours?

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Author: Gordon McLachlan

Gordon is uncomfortably good looking.

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  1. Brian 10 Oct 2013 at 10:20 pm

    I think most article sites opt for pagination to increase ad impressions. It probably started out as a way to improve usability, but once they saw how it double and tripled ad impressions they had no excuse (in their mind) to improve the usability.

    Anyway, I wholeheartedly agree with your annoyances.

    • Gordon 14 Oct 2013 at 2:29 pm

      Good point about the ads, Brian – it’s a shame if sites are going pure for ad impressions. Not that I’m a huge fan of advertising but I would’ve thought it possible to still integrate advertising revenue on scrolling pages without going for the obvious (and annoying) pagination approach.

  2. Brian 10 Oct 2013 at 10:22 pm

    Aaaaannnnd I screwed up my URL! Doh!

  3. Quijote 11 Oct 2013 at 9:52 am

    Mmmm… Cake.

  4. Bob 11 Oct 2013 at 3:20 pm

    Lock-out “Like us on Facebook” javascript overlays. What, you’ve never been to our site before and haven’t even read the link yet? Like us on Facebook anyway! Here’s a really tiny button to say “no thanks” if you don’t want to.

    • Gordon 14 Oct 2013 at 2:27 pm

      Well said! JavaScript lockout overlays in general really bug me. Not user friendly at all…

  5. Tom 12 Oct 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Referring to “Pagination instead of scrolling”. Owners of the gossips sites are doing this
    purposely. It is all about Ads, because 20 pages about male dresses are a 20 new pages for advertisers. It is all about money.

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