Oh my God, you’re annoying – 5 ways to turn off your web visitors

27 Jun

Have you ever clicked on a website and suddenly a song starts playing really rubbish music?  Perhaps a pop-up appears with moving graphics or some guy starts telling you about himself before you even know where you are.  How distracting is that?

If you actually enjoy that stuff and can honestly say it’s not made you quickly search for the ‘off’ switch or indeed ‘back’ button, you’re in the minority my friend. 

It’s one of many common problems with websites that soon switch off your viewers.  When people arrive on your website, they need to know you’ve got what they want, or are at least likely to be able to provide for their needs.  What they don’t need is anything that will distract or annoy them enough to put them off their task – the back button is very easy to push.

Starting with noises and pictures, here are five of the worst culprits:

1.  Music, sounds and whizzy graphics people can’t control

These are the bells and whistles that some web developers, novices or overly-excited web designers love to put on websites, often simply because they can.  Don’t follow their lead.  If you must put moving images, music or noise on your site, place the controls in the hands of your user and make it easy for them to turn off and on.

2. Where are you taking me?  Poor navigation

This includes links that don’t go where your user expects them to go when they click them.  It happens a lot  – you press the link and it either doesn’t work or goes elsewhere.  People arrive on your site and scan the page for things that look like they fit with what they’re looking for or are interested in.  They’ll look at your navigation and select the most likely option to get what they want.  If it doesn’t work, or most commonly it’s labelled confusingly, they’ll be annoyed.  Annoyed people won’t stay long.

3.  It looks nice, but does it work?  Overly-artistic web design

Some websites, due to the nature of the subject they represent, are designed in extraordinary ways.  There’s nothing wrong with a bit of creative flair, but it is widely held amongst usability professionals that web designers have to work within certain conventions in order for people to feel comfortable using a website.  That means placing content such as navigation, search boxes, copy and logos where people expect to find them.  Anything that requires too much brain power to find will make people irritated and more likely to leave.                                              

4.  Why are we waiting…?  Flash intro nightmares

Flash is the programme used to make moving graphics and those intro pages that take ages to load – usually with the word ‘loading’ or a loading bar and an ‘Enter here’ button.  Yawn.  They are pointless and annoying and if they take ages to load, people get bored and leave.  If you’ve used the web a fair bit it’s likely you’ve experienced it.  I assume it’s like a book cover (or because someone likes playing with Flash) – but what works in print certainly isn’t the same for the web.

5.  Corporate jargon which utilizes the exact phraseology to exemplify their working practices – or such bore-speak

Yes, I made up the word bore-speak.  But how annoying and dull it is when you come across a website that spouts nonsense at you – and it happens all too often.  You have to assume that your reader knows nothing about you or your company, so you need to explain in your copy what your site can do for them in terms they understand.  That means knowing who your audience is and how they express themselves in order to make the connection. Keep it simple and everyone is happy.                   

If there are any other aspects of websites that really get to you, please feel free to share them in the comment box below and we can all have a good old moan together. Hopefully it will help a few people to improve the experience for their users – and their sales.


8 Responses to “Oh my God, you’re annoying – 5 ways to turn off your web visitors”

  1. Paul /// Egg June 27, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    Love it, great posting Lambo!

    Overly artistic sites are great if they’re aimed at people who would find it interesting/benefitial. People like me I suppose. But on the whole definitely agree that everyone likes familiarity – especially when it comes to your joe bloggs visitor. The key is to aim for the target audience I suppose!

    I still feel that flash intros have their place. they are a slick introduction about what the site is about but I feel that flash intros should never ever have their own page, that is ridic. Use it in the index but have the navigation on show so it doesn’t stop people browsing the website. also, some can take a while to download (if the designer is careless) but the days where that is so much of a worry are nearly over what with the advent of quicker and quicker connections I think….

    • The Lamb June 27, 2011 at 11:38 am #

      Thanks man. Yeah I agree – if you’re going to use a Flash intro, make sure people who don’t care can get on with what they’re doing. My main point, though, is that anything that gets in the way of a person immediately being able to find what they are looking for, it’s another bit of subliminal annoyance that builds up until they press the back button. It may seem a little patronising to give so little credit to people’s attention spans, but in professional usability tests this sort of thing is well known.

      • The Lamb June 27, 2011 at 11:40 am #

        The other thing I would add is that Google won’t read Flash – so if you want to search engine optimise your website, you should use words instead of Flash.

      • The Lamb June 27, 2011 at 11:44 am #

        Ooh ooh, and another thing – in usability tests, people pay alot of attention to words. So actually, having copy instead of a Flash intro would tell a person what the website was about faster than a Flash intro. Very often the Flash intro doesn’t really say a lot about the site anyway – and you’re leaving the interpretation of the images up to the user, who might quickly go, “Nope, this isn’t what I’m after” when in fact it might just be.

      • Paul /// Egg June 27, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

        Well, that’s not strictly ueabout google spiders and flash, I’ve read somewhere (it’s bookmarked at home so don’t ask me my source) that you can code it so it does pick up tags that associate to the flash object. It is possible with a bit of techy knowledge.

        Thing is, the reason why I believe flash intros can be good on occasion is when image is the whole point of your website. If you wish to showcase your products that are in the fashion market quickly and slickly for example, then it is a great way of doing that. It just depends what the ethos of the site is and what market the website is aimed for.

  2. Paul /// Egg June 27, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

    That was “Well, that’s not strictly true…” btw 🙂

    • The Lamb June 27, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

      Ah sure, a lot of fashion sites have moving images. As long as they don’t go too fast and the person viewing the images can stop on images they want to look at longer. I will check out the Flash/Google thing – it seems a long way round though. I’m speaking from a tried and tested usability perspective, but I know in some cases you can get away with a bit more. The big thing is knowing your audience and giving them as much control over their tasks as possible.

      • The Lamb July 7, 2011 at 5:55 pm #

        I have recently discovered that Google can now index Flash – though there may still be trouble with it’s combo with Javascript (or something to this effect!) To be fair, I’m not extremely knowledgable in this area (it’s a bit techy for me) but as far as I’m aware, if you really want to make an easily-optimised website, I’d still avoid Flash. Also, words placed on/within images won’t get indexed – so waste no keywords this way!

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