During a time when most companies are trying to drive people to their websites, it seems that some are doing everything in their power to drive people away. We searched. We found. We clicked on through to the other side. And all the thanks we get is to be bombarded, hijacked, and advertised to obnoxiously. A high percentage (I don’t have hard numbers…come on, I work in medicine, not math… but it’s enough to make me want to write about it!) of the websites I’ve visited, especially lately (i.e. within the past 6 months) are starting to grow horns and Medusa-style wigs. 7 Deadly Sins of Website Design await. Behold…
1.) Pop-ups. These are soooo 1997. They were annoying then, and they’re annoying now. They crash our browsers. They hijack our attention. They do nothing for us. You’re not likely to make fans by using them. There’s a reason that pop-up blocker software is such a huge market. Pop-under windows don’t count as a viable solution, nor are they a workable compromise. All they’ll do is guarantee I’ll never visit your site again…or at least, I’ll upgrade that pop-up blocker.
2.) Website music that automatically starts playing. This will show how dated you are, too. Music on a website might’ve been cool for about 3 days back in 1997, but it’s not now. I don’t like something that will assault my senses to automatically load without so much as a warning. I might forget that my computer speaker volume is set high enough from last night’s Random Radio Party of One (i.e. me blasting tunes in my office by myself), and the 8-bit Nintendo music that loads from your website the minute I visit is likely to serve as an unwelcome reminder. Only *I* may blow out my eardrums–not you.
3.) Hijacking my “back” button. Here’s the deal: if I wanted to stay on your site, I would not hit my back button to return to my search results (or my otherwise previously-visited page). If I hit my “back” button, it’s not a mistake. My finger didn’t just “slip”. If I hit my “back” button, it’s because I actually–gasp!–want to leave your site. Hijacking said button will not win you any brownie points. I will not say, “well, I was going to leave, but since all I’ve done is reload the page, lemme take a closer look, and maybe I’ll decide to hang out longer.” Really, I won’t. That scenario is a fictitious wet dream going on in your deranged little sleazy head, and it has probably never even happened in the history of the interwebz. So get over yourself, and let me GO already.
4.) Site maps. OK, the #1 clue that should sound warning bells in your head that you have a poorly-designed, hard-to-navigate website is the fact that you think you need a “site map”. Honestly. Why? First of all, site maps often only compound the problem. Second, if people are having to go to your site map to find the information they need, you’ve got a crap website. Sorry, but it’s true. Take it back to the drawing board for a complete overhaul and emerge anew–without the site map.
5.) Blinking, flashing, obnoxious banner ads. Seriously, folks. Simply surfing the internet should not be hazardous to epileptics, nor should it induce an epileptic condition in non-epileptics. However, it seems as though some of you want it that way. If I’m not clicking on your banner ad (and really–who does anymore, except by accident?), then it means you gambled on my demographic and lost. Don’t be a sore loser and brainstorm for the most obnoxious, circus-like ad you can conjure up. Simply advertise a product people actually want. Bonus Hint: 86 the scams and MLMs. With a blinking ad such as yours, I’m likely to actually cover that part of the screen with a piece of paper so I can finish reading the dad-gummed article already. Better yet? I’ll copy-paste what I came to your site to read into a Word document or something comparable, so that I can finish reading it in peace, without any ads at all.
6.) Boosting your search results by including key words in a clusterfuck at the bottom of your page, while having nothing useful or relevant to say on said page itself. Seriously, WTF? It took you more time and effort just to create the useless page, put all that crap at the bottom of it, and pay someone to SEO your site than it would have to simply write a decent site with decent info and let nature take its course. What, do you think I’m not going to see that there’s no reason to stay?
7.) Making me sign up to view content, even if doing so is free. It’s like a telemarketing call during dinner–it’s an unnecessary invasion of privacy. If you’re not going to charge me anything, why make me sign up? So you can collect my information and then bury the sale thereof in some legalese-infested so-called “Privacy” Policy? Sheesh. The idea of the world wide web was to share information, not hide behind walls. If you don’t want to share info, that’s fine; don’t bother making a website.