Media Contour is a multi-disciplined design studio that works and writes about issues, trends and strategies that affect businesses and the design industry. Our goal is to deliver cutting edge, usable information that will ultimately add to your online success.
Published on August 5th, 2009 by Alexander
At one time or another, we have all visited a website that is so confusing and poorly-designed that it is not worth wasting any time or effort on. Some webmasters are so focused on collecting information from their users that they overload their visitors with requests and instructions. Other websites are simply annoying. Listed here are some of the most common features of a website that frustrate visitors.
1. Confusing Navigation – If a page is buried, has a broken link, or is not a part of the main navigation menu, it can take significantly longer for a user to find the content they are looking for. If it takes more than 5 minutes to find a particular page, you can be sure that the user will be turned off and will more than likely never return.
2. Pop-ups – No one likes pop-ups. Even if the pop-ups serve a purpose and are not spam, users will be annoyed by the fact that they are being interrupted during their web browsing experience. If you must have ads on your website, then stick to traditional banner ads that won’t be so invasive.
3. Complicated URL – Website addresses that include many words, symbols, numbers and dashes are unlikely to be memorable and will be less favorable in terms of SEO. Instead of “http://www.the-best-fly-fishing-directory-on-the-web-2.com” use something along the lines of “http://www.fishingdirectory.com.” Make sure that your URL is short and easy to remember.
4. Too many fields on your forms – While having many different fields on your contact forms allows for the greatest amount of user information to be captured, you do not want to overload your website’s users. Limit forms to four or five fields so that your user can quickly and easily fill them out.
5. Cryptic CAPTCHA Images – With the increase of spam robots that auto-fill your website’s forms, it is necessary to include a CAPTCHA image or question to validate that your users are in fact human. But if a user is required to retype a CAPTCHA value several times because it is too difficult to read, they may decide to navigate away from your site. Instead, use simple math or logic questions to validate your users.
6. Automatic Music or Video Player – Almost everyone has experienced the annoyance of automatic music players. These players can be embarrassing at work, obtrusive and annoying and are simply unneeded. Instead, wait for the user to click the “Play” button.
7. Flash Intro – While certain Flash elements and small animations can add movement and make your website more intriguing, overusing Flash can get in the way of a visitor’s ability to quickly and easily access the site’s main content. Having to wait through a long flash intro every time you access a website can be painful, maddening your visitors and turning them away. Forget the Flash intro and instead use landing pages to initiate your users’ website experience.
8. Fixed Text Size – Websites that fail to use CSS to allow for scalable text can frustrate users who have bad vision or unusual display sizes. Modern web designs allow browsers to adjust the size of the text that is displayed without fouling up the site’s layout. Also make sure that your text is not displayed as an image and that it uses relative sizing (instead of absolute).
9. Login to Comment – While it is fairly common to practice to force your website’s users to create an account and login in order to comment on forum threads and blogs, this cumbersome procedure often impedes your users from taking part in the dialogue within your website. Instead of requiring an account to comment, simply ask your visitors to submit their name, email address, and website so that you still have their valuable contact information.
10. Click “OK” to navigate away or “Cancel” to stay on this page – Recently, a trend has developed in which web designers attempt to trick users into staying on their web page. By forcing users to click a popup button to navigate away from your page, you are leaving your potential customers with a bad taste in their mouth. Let users leave if they so please…you know the old saying, “if you love something, set it free, if it was meant to be, it will come back to you.”
Users who have a negative experience on a website are likely to never return, so be careful not to drive them away with intrusive, complicated, or irritating features. While it is impossible to predict everything that will bother your site’s visitors, you will be much less likely to frustrate your guests if you avoid these common design and development pitfalls.
Hiring a team of professionals to perform a usability test can provide you with the extra insight you need to optimize your website’s overall performance.