Top Ten Web Design Pet Peeves

June 20, 2009

There’s some trends on the Internet that just wont die. I swear sometimes I don’t even know what decade it is when I click on a link and find an archaic HTML 3.2 driven site layered with frames and animated gifs. But what is even more disturbing is when you stagger into a site that was written only weeks ago and it looks like something you made in Grade 9 on your Packard Bell desktop.
Every day I find my way on to some terribly produced site that makes me gag. Here’s a short list of web design mistakes that drive me up the wall:

10 – JavaScript Links

This one isn’t always noticeable, when you use the website the way the designer expected you to use it.  What they did not expect was for you to ctrl+click or middle click a link to open it in a new tab. Perhaps you just wanted to copy the URL so you can send it to a friend?  Unfortunately far too many developers leave off the href attribute when they use an onClick, or they needlessly make their links use JavaScript in order to do something silly like open it as a popup.

9 – Denying Right Click

I can’t help but laugh every time I see this one.  Almost all browsers these days override the developer’s attempt to stop you from right clicking.  Instead what happens is they get an alert saying its not allowed at the same time as the right click menu.  If you are that worried about me stealing your image, there are better ways to stop it.  Trying to deny right clicks just annoys the user, and provides them no benefit.

8 – Under Construction
Under Construction

Virtually every website is under construction, they continue to evolve and add content.  Putting an Under Construction header (or worse, an animated gif of some stick men construction workers) on your site is like putting a Caution – Hot sticker on a stove.  What makes this problem even worse is when you eventually abandon your website, because you got bored of it or ran out of clip art, it will permanently bear this Under Construction warning until the end of time.

7 – Splitting Content

I appreciate the fact that you might be trying to break up the article to make it seem less intimidating to read, but you can solve that issue by just adding some white space.  I can handle more than three paragraphs at a time.  We all know the real reason you broke your single page article into six pages was just so you could get more ad impressions.  But guess what, when I got the “continued on page 2” link I just closed the page.

6 – All Flash Websites

You’re a graphic designer, not a web designer.  Stop trying to be both.  Not only is the noise and “flashiness” of your website annoying, but it’s extremely hard to navigate your site.  How am I supposed to know that if I hover my mouse over bird another the link to the gallery will appear.  To make matters worse, once I find the section I need I can’t even bookmark it because your whole page exists as one URL.  So each time I come here I have to watch your long and useless intro, then stumble through your horrible menu system.

5 – Splash Pages

Wow, you know Photoshop or Flash.  I’m not impressed.  In fact, I’m annoyed because I just had to perform yet another click to get to the content of your page.  To make matters worse, you tried to be creative with your placement of the enter button and I can’t find it on your splash page at all.

4 – Resizing the Window

I like my window the size it is.  If its maximized, it’s because I wanted it maximized.  If it’s only taking up half my screen, it’s most likely because I needed the other half for something else.  Yes, your crappy flash page was meant to be viewed at 800×600, but I will resize it myself if I need to.

3 – Videos that Auto Play

Chances are that I have no interest in the videos you’ve put on your site.  If I wanted to find a video I would have searched on Youtube or a similar engine.  Your video may be relavent and useful to me, but please give me the option to start it when I’m ready.  I often open many tabs at once and don’t get to them for some time.  Having to click on each one, scroll through pages of posts and try and find the source of the talking I hear, and then stopping it is really annoying.  What’s even more annoying is when you have 10 videos on your main page that all start playing at once — seriously, what made you think that would be a good idea?

2 – Music

Even more annoying than videos is background music.  We all have very different tastes in music, I probably don’t like what you like.  In fact, I probably hate it.  And what I’d probably hate even more is for it to scare the living crap out of me when I open your site at 3 am and have neglected to turn my speakers off.  I have never seen a website that needed background music, never.  I don’t care if it’s a website for your favourite band, it doesn’t need to auto play.  If you feel you need sound on your site, follow this one simple rules  give the user the option of if and when they’d like to hear it.

1 – Click Here…

Some of you will think it’s silly that I put this on the top of my list.  But this one is huge for me because it is a plague that has infested the majority of the Internet.  It’s become so popular and normal to see on a website that I continuously have intelligent, highly educated clients handing me text full of “click here…” links.  There is no need for this, link the title or action as you mention it, you will look far more professional if you do.

So, what are your pet peeves?

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Haha some of these are REALLY good. All Flash sites work in some cases — I think the core issue is that all-Flash sites tend to have shoddy navigation, not necessarily their choice of tech is at fault. For instance clicking on a bird or moving circle opens a contact us page…

    I don’t mind Click Here links — you have to understand that a lot of users may not intuitively be able to tell that your link is a link, even if it’s underlined and follows a design convention (all links are blue, etc.). Plus, in marketing putting Click Here is a call-to-action.

    Javascript links are fucking retarrrded. No other comment is necessary.

    In Firefox you can prevent resizing of your browser window by going into the options under Javascript and unchecking the box. Saves you some sanity.

    Good list!

  2. I’m pleased to see “click here” links as your number one choice. That and professional web designers/developers calling alt attributes – “tags” – really get on my nerves.

  3. I don’t understand, I read the final pet peeve, the one that told you to go to a second page because they split the content.

    I kept clicking ‘click here’ but nothing happened..

  4. I agree somewhat, but wouldn’t that presume that the document has a consistent use of ‘click here’-links? An article may mix SEO friendly and non-friendly SEO links(ie. ‘click here’). One could strip the text of links with a value of ‘click here’, either server-side or client side(JS) I guess. Or disable links entirely. It still somewhat sucks 😛

    I have never really prepared an HTML document for print though, so color me incompotent without further ado if deemed fit 🙂

  5. If you ran into half as many sites as I have with those problems, you’d understand how much more annoying they are than in the 90’s when most pages had them.

  6. I ran into a web design company’s page one time that had **both** auto-playing music and video.

    *double take*


    Yes, seriously.

  7. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  8. Okay, I agree with most, except maybe that “click here” doesn’t bother me much. However, you missed the number one most annoying thing on the whole web: “Are you sure you want to navigate away from this site?” No, man, I sneezed and clicked the back button. OR: I was thinking about going back to slashdot, but now that you ask, I’m thinking maybe it’s not such a good idea after all. I’ll just spend the rest of my life navigating back and forth between your ad-infested, content-free pages. No need to ever actually leave here…

  9. Ugh, yes, I HATE “click here”. So bad for accessibility too. I’ve been trying to teach the members of a nonprofit whose members’ blog I maintain how to write good links, but they still use “click here” sometimes and are now just making random words into links.

    And ugh, Matt@10:06, I totally agree on the navigate away thing. A different branch of the nonprofit I volunteer for asked me to add a notice saying “You are navigating away from this site; we are not responsible for any content blah blah blah” and I flat-out refused.

  10. In response to “7 – Splitting Content”, the most common reason there are links to page 2, 3 and so on, is to force an ad reload or refresh. Some sites are paid by the number of click-throughs per ad and forcing a new set of fresh ads on each ‘page’ allows a greater amount and variety of ads to be viewed by the user.

    I dislike the practice, but I just wanted to illustrate a secondary motive for the “continued on page 2” decision on some web-sites (especially news-based sites).

  11. Hey FettesPS, this top ten list is fantastic. I hate auto-play videos too, especially when I have the volume on high, or if it’s something embarrassing. All Flash websites is right up there too. You can post this to our site and link back to your site. We are trying to create a directory for top ten lists where people can find your site. The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.

  12. I was just about to write the same article! Beat me to it…You did it better anyway :p

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