What started out as pet peeves eventually turned into the annual orchestra website reviews, a resource that has contributed to improved website design throughout the entire orchestra business. Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean webpage annoyances have gone away, they’ve just become more refined. As such, I’ve compiled a Top 10 list of the recent offenses…
Create a slick Flash-driven site that takes more than a minute to load.
Yes, Flash looks cool but it won’t do you any good if it takes forever to load or locks up a browser because the user doesn’t have the latest update.
Fail to include a ticket purchase link on respective concert event pages.
OK, this is an oldie but goodie and I’m sorry to say that I still encounter sites that make users dig around for a link to purchase a ticket. Really, do people need to have this one pointed out?
Make users register before they can peruse ticket information.
User email addresses are rapidly becoming more important than addresses or phone numbers but you shouldn’t force website visitors to provide an email address before than can discover whether or not tickets are available and if so, which seats and how much they cost.
Set music to play automatically.
I might get some flak over this one, after all, orchestras are all about the music but forcing music on users visiting your site from a work computer or in an otherwise quiet location only trains them to stay away. Closely related to this annoyance is locating the play/stop and volume controls for your embedded music player in a hard to find location.
Make the font color for links nearly indistinguishable from the regular font color.
Nothing makes me leave a website faster than making it next to impossible to identify links. There’s a reason link colors have contrast so why ignore years of proven practice by intentionally making link colors indistinguishable from non-link text? A similar annoyance is not only making link colors indistinguishable but also failing to make the mouseover font color different – this one seems to be employed by web designers that are particularly sadomasochistic.
Littering copy with in-text advertising.
This is the particularly odious practice where text associated with an advertisement is identified by a double-underline and triggers an in-page window containing advertising content when the cursor is positioned over the corresponding text. The real annoyance here is the pop boxes are difficult to close and appear on a mouseover as opposed to a physical mouse click.
Fail to include a search box.
If you need me to elaborate on this annoyance than you have bigger problems to deal with. Nonetheless, a closely related annoyance is when sites fail to include a search box but place a subscribe box in the location traditionally reserved for search boxes. The result is users enter a search term in what appears to be a search box only to get an error message. More often than not, they’ll simply get frustrated and leave before they figure out what they thought was a search box is some sort of subscription box.
Use widgets that don’t fit within margins or frequently fail to load.
Widgets can be wonderful third party tools when used properly but one common annoyance is using a widget that extends past the margins of a column. At best, it makes the page look sloppy and at worst, if screws up the entire page design. A closely related annoyance is widgets that fail to load more often than not and cause the entire page to freeze (or worse, the browser). I ditched Amazon.com’s affiliate widget years ago for this very reason and I don’t care if they ever fix it, I’m not going through that again and neither should you.
Fail to list hours of operation alongside administrative and box office contact phone numbers.
It doesn’t matter that your office hours have been 9-4 for the past fourteen years and pretty much anyone calling probably knows that from previous experience. Listing office hours is even more important if your hours of operation change between seasons or you have special weekend hours on the day of concert events.
Underlining text that isn’t a link.
Another oldie but goodie, this one seems to be back in fashion. In short, if users have to use trial and error to differentiate links from emphasized text, then you have a problem. The formatting of choice for emphasis is italic or bold, leave underlines for word documents.
So what sorts of website quirks have been annoying you in recent months?