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May 7, 2007

Top 10 Ways to Peeve Your Website Visitors

How did peeves become pets? Don’t know. Don’t really care. But all of us have our pet peeves when it comes to surfing the net for information.Here are the top 10 according to many surveys:

1. Pop Ups

Pop ups come in many flavors: entry pop ups, exit pop ups, delayed, small, large, multiple, Flyin, scrolling, always on top, browser stopping, surf interrupting, must be cleared to move on, viagra, and the ever popular porn.

Except for an occasional squeeze page to get a free ebook or report, web surfers HATE pop ups.

So why do they continue to litter the Internet landscape? Simple. They work.

2. Extra Software Needed to View Site

Don’t blame Canada. Blame Adobe.

Adobe made the Acrobat reader a must for viewing PDF files mainly because:

– It solved a need. Every page now printed out the same regardless of which printer or operating system was being used. It could even be made interactive for form completion.

– Adobe gave away millions of the free readers before publishers adopted the new PDF format as a standard for ebooks.

Acrobat users now demand PDF files in most instances where ebooks used to have various formats including “exe”. Hackers have made downloading exe files from unknown sources an unsafe activity.

As standard as Acrobat now is, the same is not true for Flash, Shockwave, Deja Vu, and a host of other add-ons with various degrees of support.

I don’t need to sit through a 2 meg Flash intro when what I want is information. Apparently, many others agree. You can add Flashblock to your FireFox browser and decide for yourself when to allow the Flash to load.

3. Dead Dead Dead Links

Nothing hacks me off faster than finding a spot on anchor text link that goes nowhere.

It’s like having you mouth water over a menu special only to have the kitchen say they have run out.

4. Registration Required to Visit Site

Some sites think their bytes don’t stink. They think you should register and login to see anything beyond the home page.

What they are doing is asking me to get married before the first date.

What’s in it for me?

In this Internet day and age, a company and site has to build trust before a random visitor is going to cough up a name and email address.

Show me a little leg first.

5. Slowwww Pages

If I have to wait more than 4 or 5 seconds to begin viewing your site, I am gone – never to return.

If your servers are slow, find a new ISP.

If you loaded your pages with Flash, MIDI, audio, video, or other files that load with the page, dump them. Put up links instead. Let the visitor choose if they want to read or watch the video.

6. Outdated Content

One huge advantage of the web is the ability of bloggers and other Drudge wannabes to bypass traditional media and post news online instantly.

If you have not updated your website in 14 months, what does that tell me about your company. Certainly, you are less than a cutting edge solution for my problem.

7. Bad Navigation

Web designers prefer dazzle over function. Function is boring. Who wants a simple text link when a pop up Javascript navigation bar impresses the client?

I do.

So do the search engines.

Every web page needs recognizable, underlined text links on every page, preferably top and bottom.

Don’t make me waste time trying to find the internal page I am really looking for.

8. No Contact Information

Poor contact information is a binary pair of bad navigation. How many sites have you been to where you cannot find a phone number, a street address, or even an email address? Plenty.

I think it’s sweet that you put up an email contact form on your site, but I prefer to use my default email compose screen. Every web-based email form is different. I don’t want to waste time learning to use your form when my email client works fine.

What are you hiding?

9. No Decent Site Search Tool

There is no excuse for this one. If you have a large website with dozens or hundreds of pages, give me an internal search box to find what I need.

Google and Yahoo! and many others will give you the tool – free – to put on your site. Use it.

10. Disabled “Back” Button

I don’t want a website to dictate how I experience their site. I am a guest on your site. I don’t need to come back to your page when I hit the back button. That’s why I hit the back button in the first place. You don’t have the information I am looking for.

In a similar vein, I don’t like to see other right click functions like “view page source” disabled. I don’t need to steal your HTML code, but if I want to, disabling right click will not stop me. I might want to see how you achieved a certain formatting effect. If I am impressed, you can bet I’ll be back.

Pet peeves take many forms online. No list like this is complete, but any webmaster that can avoid these 10 major annoyances is a hero in my book.

I look forward to visiting your site.

Author:  Charles Lamm is a retired attorney who can be reached via email at focus@clixforbrix.com. His articles are posted on his blog at: http://www.virtualjoefriday.com.

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