Six Seriously Annoying Web Design Practices 2015

Six Seriously Annoying Web Design Practices 2015

Ericka Harshaw

The List

We’ve all browsed the Web and become frustrated or annoyed by some of the design choices that we’ve had to endure. We also know that people love to follow trends and there’s nothing wrong with that – as long as the trend you’re following promotes usability.

Jakob Nielsen does a great job with pointing out the top 10 IA mistakes that he’s encountered. In this post, I will point out the top six annoying Web design practices that I’ve come across.

1. Popups

Annoyance Rating: 10/10

Just when we thought we’d eliminated the popups of decades past, a new type of popup has emerged in the form of popup lightboxes. Over the past several years there has been an insurgence of popup/lightbox usage – especially with nonprofit websites.

Whether it’s to prompt you to subscribe to a newsletter, donate money, obtain your feedback, chat, or simply offer a new product, popup lightboxes have become a growing trend.

Having one popup lightbox that’s only shown on the homepage of a website during your first visit is not that annoying. But having a homepage lightbox as well as lightboxes that appear at random on internal pages of your site is definitely annoying – especially when they don’t have close buttons.

An example of this annoying practice can be seen on the Elegant Themes website.

Elegant Themes Pop Ups


So the bottom line is to not bombard your visitors with random popups. Incessant popups distract from and, for the most part, negatively impact the user’s browsing experience.

If visitors want to subscribe to your newsletter or use a chat feature then they should have the freedom to make that decision without incessant prompting.

2. Slideshow Next Buttons

Annoyance Rating: 10/10

Have you ever seen a potentially intriguing article and clicked on the article link only to be taken to a slideshow?

Well, slideshows in general aren’t annoying. On the other hand, slideshows that force you to tediously click through every single image are annoying. An example of this can be seen on the New York Times website.

Naturalon Ad Placement


The bottom line is that forcing visitors to view every single slideshow image is not user friendly nor is it good information design. Rather than forcing users to view each image, you can provide an option to view all images at once on a single page or provide a thumbnail list.

3. Misleading Ads

Annoyance Rating: 8/10

You nor Google can not deny that media ads help improve online revenue. However, one of the biggest reasons that visitors lose interest when browsing a website is misleading navigation.

An example of this can be seen on the Naturalon website where there is an ad within the article. The ad has a button and, unless you look closely, you might click on that button thinking it’s related to the article navigation.

Naturalon Ad Placement


The bottom line is that we have to be conscientious of how we place ads from a design, usability, and findability standpoint. Placing ads in such a way that is misleading or confusing is definitely not user friendly nor is it good information design.

The last thing you want to do is distract from the very purpose of the ad and loose your viewer’s patience, loyalty or trust.

4. Horizontal Scrolling

Annoyance Rating: 8/10

Horizontal scrolling can be appealing and useful especially for image galleries and saving space on mobile and tablet devices. However, the navigation is not always obvious, visitors can miss the cue to actually use it, and sometimes it can be difficult to maintain dragging.

Not only that, but in the case of the Netflix website, it’s extremely tedious to navigate since there’s only one speed that you have no control over.

Netflix Horizontal Scrolling


The bottom line is that you should not force visitors to swipe/scroll through content or guess how much content remains. You should always provide visible clues (scrollbars, pagination, arrows, etc.) as well as alternate ways of navigation such as global menus for those of us who are still fond of our desktop computers (see Dennys website).

It’s also important to understand that people use mobile, tablet and desktop devices differently so we need to be sure to optimize our designs for different devices.

5. Auto Play Videos and Multimedia

Annoyance Rating: 7/10

I like watching videos and listening to music as much as the next person. But have you ever met anyone who wants videos to play automatically once a webpage has loaded? For me, it’s definitely jarring to reach a website only to be bombarded by a video or sound track that starts automatically.

From a design standpoint it makes it even worse if the video or audio controls are elusive or buried at the bottom of the page. An example of this can be seen on the Women’s Health Magazine website.

So the bottom line is that you should never force visitors to watch your videos or listen to your background music. This practice can not only slow down internet speed and crash browsers, but it is also not user friendly. It’s also not the best way to present multimedia.

Keep in mind that for most people, by the time they realize what’s happening and actually locate the video on the page, they’ve probably missed the first part of it so they’ll have to restart it anyway.

6. Overly Complicated Online Forms

Annoyance Rating: 7/10

I expect that filling out a job application online will take more than five minutes but an online form to subscribe for services or a contact form should not.

An example of an overly complicated form can be seen on the All Clear ID website. I’m not sure what the second page of the form entails simply because I didn’t have the patience to make it that far.

All Clear ID Long Online Form


The bottom line is that using unnecessary fields and confusing elements that require lengthy explanations is not good information design. mentions that you should only ask for information that you know you’ll use at some point.

So always ask yourself if you really need to collect someone’s work, cell and fax numbers, gender, birth date, etc. on a contact form.

When in Doubt, Kiss

Remember that usability should always be in the forefront of your website design. If visitors are uncomfortable with any aspect of your website then the likelihood of them returning is slim. When in doubt, kiss (keep it simple stupid).


February 2018
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