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I was on the verge of writing a post about the joys of HTML5, which when combined with CSS3 and Javascript can do some very impressive things. However, having visited a bunch of ‘inspiring’ HTML5 websites I’ve ended up with a slight headache. The truth is that many of these sites leave a lot to be desired.

It’s a case of déjà vu. A decade ago the rise in popularity of Flash steered many web designers down the wrong path. It wasn’t the fault of the technology, but of the people using the technology. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. I'm all for innovation, but innovation should not be regressive.

Make no bones about it, HTML5 design is a massive, musty elephant in the room, and it is about to charge. In its path lies a flailing, unarmed Jakob Nielsen, backed up with legions of user experience professionals, who are gently sobbing. GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons, the noted elephant slayer, is nowhere to be seen. 

So, below are some examples of user experience badness. The irony is that I spotted many of these examples in posts like this one, dedicated to ‘fresh HTML5 design inspiration’. For the purposes of clarity I am not pointing the finger of blame at HTML5 itself, but the 'HTML5 design' themes seen on lots of sites which suffer from the issues outlined below.

Loading screens

I would assume that there isn't a single person in the world who likes to see a slow-moving loading screen. The eight second rule is dead: it’s more like two seconds these days. Ask yourself if the web experience you're providing is worth the wait (I'll bet that it isn't).

Hidden navigation

Many HTML5 sites are based around scrolling. They allow users to jump down the page to reveal new sections, rather than navigating to a bunch of new pages. This works, more often than not, but there is a fundamental problem when the main navigation goes missing.

Making demands

Users shouldn’t be forced to learn how to navigate websites: it should be intuitive. In this case, a message says “this site has been designed for the iPad”. All very swipetastic, but most people do not use iPads to visit websites, and desktop users should not be forced into using arrow keys to navigate.

Smartphones don’t have arrow keys. These things should be done in addition to standard navigation, but not instead of. The navigation seen at the top of this site's homepage vanishes once you enter the portfolio pages, which live in isolation from one another. Not ideal.

 

Images used for text

Question: ‘What begins with G and ends in oogle?’

 

Contrast fail

This is barely visible on my low rent second monitor.

Dubious animation

One thing I quite like about HTML5 and CSS3 is that it allows for (theoretically) lightweight animations to be added to web pages. But animations are a distraction and should be used with caution.

I’m not sure what these falling feathers add to the user experience, much less what they’re supposed to convey.

Mystery meat icons

Using icons for key navigation only makes sense if they are obvious. In this case, what does the tie represent? Hover over it and you’ll be told that the tie will take you to the portfolio. The problem is that the hover state does not exist when browsing via smartphone. Don’t make users think.

Missing pages

The first link in the navigation returns a 404 of sorts. I'm sure this is a temporary error, and it's easy to fix, but still...

Bossy browser behaviour

This navigation reveals and then minimises itself within five seconds (I think that the main navigation is important enough to be always be visible on the page). Most links scroll to different areas of the page, but click on ‘Fresh’ and the page will open up in a new tab.

People have different preferences but it is usually considered best practice to open links in the same page, allowing the user full control over their browser.

 

Tiny fonts

Note the massive chunky fonts set against tiny body / navigational text. In addition, small, skinny light-coloured text does not work when set against a dark background.

Lame pop-ups

I’ve never used this site before, so immediately asking me to create a free account is absolutely pointless, and more so when the pop-up does not automatically disappear when I ignore it.

Autoplay

Unlike Ciroc, I’m firmly of the view that videos should not be set to play automatically. 

A smorgasbord of irritation

This experience consists of autosound and a ridiculous opening sequence that would test the patience of a saint, replete with tiny, barely visible ‘skip’ buttons. Thereafter we see a woeful use of page estate, tons of awkward animation, and using the mouse is a mistake as you end up scrolling all over the place. Brace yourself...

Boring content delays

Nobody likes to wait. I’m not sure that the triangles work as a frame for images, but of greater concern is the speed at which these images are loaded. It took more than a minute for all 12 images to be displayed. Some Dead Kennedys songs are shorter than that.

Some recommendations...

Don’t use technology for the sake of it. Innovation means taking risks, exploring new avenues, and making the most of opportunities. It does not mean doing things just because you can. There needs to be a focus on what matters, and what matters is not the technology, but the people who use the technology. That means designers, developers, and - ultimately - users.

Remember the UX parameters. Remember the user. Rules are there to be broken but trying to ‘educate’ a visitor about how to use your fancy new website is a total waste of time. It is fine to allow desktop users to horizontally scroll across pages via arrow keys, but it is not so fine to force them to do so, disabling the mouse in the process. Moreover, if you actually think people are happy to wait for your pages to load then you’re seriously deluded.

User experience goals are important, but business goals are too important to ignore. It’s a slippery slope. If the designer doesn’t really understand or care about the user experience then it doesn’t bode well for your business goals. 

Designers need to leave their egos at home. This isn’t about them. Great design is hidden, and a great designer will avoid leaving an indelible footprint on a client’s website, much less a shitty footprint. Many HTML5 websites seem to be all about showing off the skills of the designer. This might be acceptable if you are working on your own website, though it could be misguided. It is unforgivable if you’ve done something horrendous to a client’s website.

I’m hoping that these Flash-era design trends do not make a comeback, lest that elephant trample on a billion user experiences in the years ahead. Please, if you’re in a position to do so, make it stop!

Chris Lake

Published 13 March, 2013 by Chris Lake

Chris Lake is CEO at EmpiricalProof, and former Director of Content at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter, Google+ or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (134)

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Doug Kessler

Doug Kessler, Director at VelocitySmall Business Multi-user

Fantastic list.
Normally I read this kind of thing and wince at all the mistakes we've already made.
This time, as we're just getting to grips with HTML5, you've helped me avoid making them.
Thanks.

over 3 years ago

Annette Yates

Annette Yates, Copywriter at Grass Roots

Great recommendations, whether you're using HTML5 or not.

over 3 years ago

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Jamie Norman

So how can we turn this thing we did in Flash into HTML5. it's just lazy design. Niece piece.

Couple of good examples come from unlikely sources such as gov.uk and barackobama.com

over 3 years ago

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Zoe Bosward, Experienced Online Marketing Manager, UK at Job hunting in Derby UK

I forsee a fresh wave of egotistical marketing managers/brand managers/directors requesting naff features that will interfere with UX. *wry smile*

over 3 years ago

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Mickey

I love that the "this site has been designed for the iPad" leads to a client site that includes Flash and clearly is NOT designed for the iPad. :)

It should be more accurate and say "This site has been designed for the iPad, but if you want to visit the link below you should copy it, open the email app, send it to yourself, then view it on a proper machine"...

over 3 years ago

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John

Brilliant!

over 3 years ago

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John

Add one more - asinine CAPTCHA's where nobody can read the words and it takes 3 tries. :)

over 3 years ago

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Ruth

Autoplay is the worst. If you're ad auto-plays, I will purposely avoid your product for the rest of my life. Just sayin.

over 3 years ago

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Ian

All good points but none are specifically because of HTML5.

Saying that these things are "due to HTML5" is wrong.

The title is very misleading.

over 3 years ago

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SG

"Lame pop-ups", I read, as econsultancy's "Join FREE as a Bronze member!" pop-up obscured half the text on the screen.

over 3 years ago

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jamie mason

Poor design without a doubt, but I fail to see how these examples of poor decision making were "due to" HTML5.

over 3 years ago

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Tady Walsh

This list is the biggest pile of rubbish I have ever seen (and not the first misleading article from eConsultancy on the subject of HTML5). The only item in this list at all related to HTML5 is the "Dubious Animation" and even that is related more to CSS3 than HTML5. I have no problem with someone highlighting the issues of HTML5 and, as a spec still technically in development, I expect users to have conflicting expectations and results in it's implementation. ALL of the issues highlighted in this list are design decisions, UI decisions and accessibility failures. I agree that the practices highlighted in this list are for the most part, poor practice, but to blame them on HTML5?! This just shows, once again how little eConsultancy knows about actual development and smacks of creating a headline with HTML5 in it, just for the publicity.

Call it what it is. Bad design practices being made in the web today due to new developers not learning old lessons. Don't blame a new technology which has nothing to do with it.

over 3 years ago

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Anthony

None of these have anything to do with HTML5. Every single one can be (and are) done with previous 'versions' of HTML.

Stop it.

over 3 years ago

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Nvr219

This site itself has lame pop ups at the bottom.

over 3 years ago

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Peter

Another trend that is very annoying is pop-up advertising panes like the one at the bottom of this page.

over 3 years ago

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naspinski

"'Lame pop-ups', I read, as econsultancy's "Join FREE as a Bronze member!" pop-up obscured half the text on the screen."

Exactly what I was thinking!

over 3 years ago

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Murat

Surely these are all to do with design and not HTML5?? Mystery meat icons? That's a design problem, it's also in iOS apps and every interface ever.

+1 on the always on top banner pane at the bottom of the page

over 3 years ago

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no1

I just thought it would be nice to have an example of a nice html5 experience with this new york times project:
http://www.nytimes.com/projects/2012/snow-fall/

over 3 years ago

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j

- Fixed position social sharing buttons
- Fixed position red advertising popovers
- Too much advertisting

over 3 years ago

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Veronica Wong

Add background music to that list. Ugh.

over 3 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Ian / @Jamie / @Anthony - I used the term 'making a comeback' to indicate that these design issues are way older than HTML5. I totally agree: these errors are not specific to HTML5, but they're certainly found on all of the above HTML5 sites (and many others), most of which have been filed under the 'inspiring' label.

I said right at the start that it isn't the technology's fault: HTML5 simply provides designers with a richer toolkit. HTML5 isn't the problem, the designers and devs who use HTML5 with a lack of consideration for UX are the problem. That's the trend I hope we can nip in the bud. I think it's pretty obvious that this article is not an attack on HTML5 itself.

@SG / @Nvr219 / @Peter / @naspinski - Yes, there is a roll-up on this page but it a) shouldn't obscure half of the screen, and it b) shouldn't appear immediately. Somewhat intrusive, yes, but a wholly different execution to a lightbox-style pop-up. Business goals sometimes usurp UX goals I'm afraid. Can you suggest a more elegant solution?

over 3 years ago

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Rogier Trimpe

I actually built a website with HTML5 with the purpose of using HTML5 for something that adds value.

The site can be used for seeing how your website looks to users with poor vision.

Go to http://Cantheysee.it to check out what I'm talking about.

over 3 years ago

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Carina

Science direct has an especially disturbing site with moving headers and footers, see for example http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0925527310001349

Upon scrolling down, the header disappears and if you are about to reach the bottom, a footer appears making it nearly unpredictable what you will end up seeing.

over 3 years ago

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James

These are all very valid examples of bad design, but you can't blame HTML 5 itself for a lot of these. Low contrast has nothing to do with HTML 5! But obviously the design trends for a lot of HTML 5 heavy sites is to blame for the proliferation of a lot of these.

over 3 years ago

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YABE Yuji

> Saying that these things are "due to HTML5" is wrong.
> The title is very misleading.

I remember well people were crying all the bad web parts are "due to Flash" :(
After all, tools are just tools.

over 3 years ago

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Blake Simpson

Although I agree with the points made in general, especially the loading screen one. This doesn't really have anything to do with HTML5 and CSS3. Bad contrast or thin text designs are purely design decisions... CSS3 doesn't make people use images as text, in fact due to innovations such as font-face and text shadow developers are likely to do the opposite.

These technologies are making the web better, I'd be much more worried about the gigantic pop-up, "join our newsletter", and social media nonsense I see all around this post.

Although good work on the misleading title, I can feel the storm of insulted Hacker News readers coming to give you publicity :)

over 3 years ago

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andy idsinga

you had be at : "Some Dead Kennedys songs are shorter than that." ! :)

over 3 years ago

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Tyler

What about not having ads bounce up in from left, right, top and bottom like this site. The whole advertising world is the biggest offender of all of this. The content is more important than any ad. And it's not just the ads on sites but also the crap-ware showcase sites for these companies create for their newest product thing.

over 3 years ago

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John Radke

Chris - "...these errors are not specific to HTML5..."

"HTML5 isn't the problem..."

OK, great, I agree, but then why does the headline say this stuff is "due to HTML5"? HTML5 is entirely incidental to almost all of your examples, so why is it even brought up at all?

over 3 years ago

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yannick

"People have different preferences but it is usually considered best practice to open links in the same page, allowing the user full control over their browser."

That's true but when I specifically cmd+click (or ctrl+click on windows) I want to open the link in a new tab. Try on this article, it doesn't work!!! You can't choose to open the links in a new tab.....

I like people that critics others and doesn't see they fail themselves.

over 3 years ago

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ibrahim Diallo

Not that html5 is the problem , but I guess people get caught up by the technology .

One person will use his computer to send someone to the moon, while another will use it to watch cat videos.

Ps . I have nothing against cats.

over 3 years ago

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annonymous

Good stuff. Ironically, shift+click doesn't open any of these links in a new window--in direct contrast to the entry about url bets practices. (control+click and command+click likewise do not open a new tab).

over 3 years ago

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Kosso

I don't believe there's any "right" or "wrong" way to do things.

What's interesting is that the page this article is on has many excruciatingly annoying traits too. Such as a "popupsell" bar at the bottom of the window. A crazy popdown-and-out menu structure etc..

I could go on and on about what a dogs dinner this page is actually. :)

over 3 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@John - As mentioned many of these sites feature in compendiums with headlines along the lines of 'X inspiring / amazing / creative HTML5 websites'.

I said "due to HTML5" because the design decisions / trends seem to be linked to the available tech, and because I've found all of these sites - badged as 'HTML5' sites - via other articles, which label them as such.

You say HTML5 is incidental, but one of the trends among designers / devs that build HTML5 websites is that loading screens and start pages are ok. I don't think most users will see it that way. Like I said, it's not the tech that's the problem, it is the people that use the tech.

over 3 years ago

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Alexis

I can't help but notice that some of the sites displayed in this list are some of the greatest websites I encountered in terms of satisfaction, both in design and ergonomy, but also because they let some part for the user to discover which is something that tend to disappear.

Most of the mistakes listed are in fact really annoying, but everyone of those mistake have to be accounted for in its context. A content delay can be for example a annoying experience for some website, and a great way to display a lot of information without overflowing the user cognitive skills.

over 3 years ago

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Anthony

@chris: "HTML5 simply provides designers with a richer toolkit"

No it doesn't. HTML5 doesn't provide anything that allows anyone to create 'mystery meat icons' or 'autoplay videos'. Especially the video thing since HTML5 has yet to even codify how to implement video easily.

Checking off that 'autoplay' when publishing has zero to do with the technology involved in rendering the page.

If I wanted I could say static footers that are full of advertising or static boxes of 'social media' icons are making a comeback because of CSS3 when in fact they are just bad design choices.

I don't see how you can say this isn't an attack on HTML5 when it's in the freaking title. You are implying that HTML5 is the root cause of this.

It's not. You're wrong.

over 3 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Anthony - I'm pointing the finger at *HTML5 design trends*, which is entirely different from attacking or blaming the tech itself. The article is all about bad design choices, but these things are seen on the above HTML5 sites, and many others. Things like loading screens and start pages are commonplace on HTML5 sites, just like they were on Flash sites. I don't want HTML5 to become synonymous with a shitty user experience.

But on balance I think you are right, and have mislabelled the headline and as such will drop the "due to HTML5" part.

over 3 years ago

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Rob Willox

@Chris You're right, it's not the technologies fault and rarely is, even in areas not technological, abuse can arise through ignorance or just lack of understanding of purpose.

@John Not sure if the criticism of the title is fully justified although substituting 'as a result of' rather than 'due to' might have made it clearer although the first paragraph tends to clarifiy the point that it was not the fault of HTML5 itself but those using it.

over 3 years ago

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David Miller

Yes, yes, and yes! I think the major pet peeve of mine is the return of load screens. If it's a load screen on a slider, fine. If it's a load screen for the whole page, if it takes more than 2 seconds to load I'm out of there.

Another one I have noticed making a slight comeback is music on websites. I get blasted through my headphones every time I'm unfortunate enough to come across a site with music on it.

over 3 years ago

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Kieran

Great stuff! Absolutely agree, even as a web designer I have 0 patients for slow sites.

over 3 years ago

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bill

Your complaints about HTML 5 sites are valid however your feedback hovering image breaks your own rules. On my nexus 7 it was blocking content and I had to scroll up and down to read words that were being blocked....smooth

over 3 years ago

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Jacey Gulden

Chris, I absolutely agree with you! In fact, I have been doing a lot of my own research on this topic in terms of Responsive design. I think way too many designers out there are creating these "cool" sites just to show off their coding skills but they're not really giving any thought to the end user. You need to design for real humans!

I recently wrote a blog very similar to this and I would love your feedback!

http://engage.synecoretech.com/marketing-technology-for-growth/bid/172769/Not-All-Responsive-Web-Design-is-Created-Equal

Thanks for helping to spread the word that just because something is cool or trendy, doesn't mean it's the best option.

over 3 years ago

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Ben

Wow, what an incredibly snarky, nasty article published on one of the ugliest blogs on the internet.

Get your own house in order before attacking sites that are, for the most part, Agency sites. Design agencies have always bent the rules of usability to show creative intent, it used to be with flash, now its moving into Javascript (which most of these examples are) and HTML5 (which you probably don't understand, given how you seem to think that's what all these examples are).

There are some good points in here, especially about mystery meat navigation and alike, but unfortunately there hidden behind a layer of arrogance and link-batiy hyperbole that even the most intrepid of readers would have trouble unearthing.

over 3 years ago

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commenter

You know what's annoying? People that post articles about webdesign on webpages that have shitty user experience. Like try making your header nav a sticky fixed nav so that I don't have to scroll back to the top to navigate to a new section. It's so funny because you have this shitty social nav that follows you down which is huge, gawdy, and totally useless. This comment box i'm typing in? Shitty, overly noticable tile. Can barely read the text that overlays it.

If you're going to bash others designs, please make sure you're not doing the bashing from a shitty design. kthx

over 3 years ago

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Eduardo Garcia

How on Earth is a 404 error a "lousy web design trend" caused by using HTML5?

over 3 years ago

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Luke

This is one of the most poorly researched, hypocritical and plain sad articles I have read in a long time. But hey you made Hacker News!

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5368475

over 3 years ago

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Ben

Thanks for removing my comment, it certainly proves me right. It's better to delete the person calling you out on your bullshit rather than actually offer some sort of argument to the contrary. Respect.

over 3 years ago

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defawlt

I'm curious as to what the definition of HTML5 are. I looked at the source code of several of these sites and they aren;t using anything specific HTML5. More CSS3. It may sound nit picky but as a Designer it greatly adds to the confusion of navigating these conversations with Product Managers and users.

over 3 years ago

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Tady Walsh

You say this article is "pointing the finger at HTML5 design trends." I don't have any problem with the sentiment, but every paragraph and example mentions HTML5, when the problem is the "design trends" alone. You could replace every instance of HTML5 in this post and replace it with just HTML and the point would be made as effectively (although still incorrectly pointing at the technology, not the design implementation). The post has all the hallmarks of an SEO sink (write something that will attract traffic) and has lost any credibility it might have had for highlighting issues that we certainly had hoped had gone away, by meaninglessly and falsely derogotorising a technology, unrelated to the issues at hand. It undermines the readers and gives middle and upper management who are already uneasy about change, the ammunition they require to prevent developers moving forward. If you were simply "pointing the finger at poor design trends" your post may have kept some credibility. By targetting the unrelated topic of modern web technologies, it has rendered itself junk.

over 3 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Ben - Your comment was filtered automatically by Akismet - I've just republished it. I see you've fallen into the trap of giving agencies a pass for having borderline unusable websites. Being critical of poor user experiences is hardly akin to being nasty.

@Eduardo - It isn't. Perhaps I shouldn't have included that point, but it is more proof that style trumps substance.

@defawit - I found most of these sites from articles dedicated to HTML5 design (https://www.google.com/search?q=html5+design+examples). I also have a HTML5 extension for Chrome - a little badge is show to denote a site that uses HTML5. But I'll stop short of saying I looked at the code on all of these sites.

@Tady - Every paragraph doesn't mention HTML5 and I made the point that I'm referring to design trends common to HTML5 sites (that are 'inspiring' or 'creative' or 'amazing'), as opposed to HTML5 itself. These sites built using "modern technologies" are making the kind of mistakes that web users hate. It is hardly unrelated. These very sites are often there to showcase the technology, and I think in many cases UX best practice is being stomped on.

over 3 years ago

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Ben

@Chris - I think 'borderline unusable' is a bit strong, we'll probably have to agree to disagree, as a designer I'm all too aware of the subjective nature of my craft.

If you do want to judge websites though, do have a really good look at this one, if you're into picking out usability and design flaws they should be glaring at you right now. I understand if its politics that get in the way though...

over 3 years ago

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Edgar

Complaining complaining. You guys complained about flash not being open so we invented HTML5 for you, now you're going to complain that HTML5 is giving your too much?

And this damn captcha should be the subject of debate...I'm still trying to figure it out.

over 3 years ago

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Patti

Great article. I agree totally with your assement.

over 3 years ago

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Tyler Durden

From my experience, it boils down to "management" and/or "Designers" making UX/UI decisions when they shouldn't. Us developers (like me) try to get across to them these poor choices of navigation, typogography, and flow, but they just don't want to listen. A concept looks great in a PSD file in Photoshop but once you try and implement it that is a different story. I tell them Less Is More (most of the time), but they are stubborn and want their BLING come to fruition so MARKETING can look important and relevant.

over 3 years ago

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Tom

Remember "best viewed in 640x480"? For shame, pcmag: http://i.imgur.com/TJEMjvy.png

over 3 years ago

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Bryan

So says the article/website in which "Join FREE as a Bronze member to get:" pops up at the bottom of the screen.

over 3 years ago

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Chris

Ironic that this site has a lame "Join FREE as a Bronze member!" pop-up.

Maybe HTML5 will inspire an alternative to annoying Captcha's too....

over 3 years ago

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What Haveyou

Good points.

But "replete with tiny skip buttons" doesn't make sense, unless there's literally a shitload of buttons littering the page.

over 3 years ago

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Thomas

"... and a great way to display a lot of information without overflowing the user cognitive skills."

Which is, when translated, a claim that users are stupid, slow idiots and making them wait _is a good idea_.

How much arrogance one developer can have if this is the general level of knowledge among developers?

over 3 years ago

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Thomas

Chris says:

"These sites built using "modern technologies" are making the kind of mistakes that web users hate. It is hardly unrelated. These very sites are often there to showcase the technology, and I think in many cases UX best practice is being stomped on."

This hits the nail and no-one can claim that this isn't the case, without lying.

Any "new" technology means that _every stupidity possible_ in _all_ of the old technologies is repeated and html5 offers a huge plethora of possibilities to do thoroughly boneheaded stupidities.

Anyone claiming those are not inherent to html5 is totally missing the point: Those errors are exceptions now, but _they will be re-introduced_ with html5. And then they are the majority, not exceptions.

We can already see that, it's not even theory any more.

over 3 years ago

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Sean-Michael Groomes

OMFG THANK YOU.

I thought I was the only one who was annoyed by this. Even more so the ridiculous fading animation sequences for a simple popup...

over 3 years ago

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sebphfx

Images used for text? What's wrong with that? Does canvas count? Cufon uses canvas to render text and it's one of the best solutions to get fonts to look the same in every browser. I have to agree with loading screens though, sometimes. like the bullittagency site for example. I didn't even see the site. After waiting for an eternity, I changed my mind.

over 3 years ago

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JimK

I find so many sites just overloaded with ads being embedded via ajax and just slow as molasses. Too many toys for people to play with. Other mistakes include going overboard with effects simply because they look cool.

over 3 years ago

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Mark

You forgot infinite scrolling.

over 3 years ago

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UI Architect

Wouldn't blame it on HTML5, though; it's just a trend. But every point is valid; well done!

over 3 years ago

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Kevin Wells

Excellent article Chris.

The two most irritating ones for me are "mystery meat" graphics which have you scratching your head as to what it means. So often I just don't bother to click.

Plus those irritatingly matey/jokey error page or link messages that say things like "oops" or "you've landed somewhere unexpected" or "he's dead jim".

There's another one I dislike, newspapers and BBC love this: "interactive" graphics. These tend to involve large quantities of mystery meat icons and clickables.

I just dont have the time to play around clicking on umpteen icons just to see what's underneath them.

As a result, Ive learned that it's best for me to avoid anything that has the label "interactive". Not very interactive after all then if you are warning away your audience in this way!

The other thing I find tedious, although other people might not have the same view, are infographics. Im fed up with seeing them. Surely their SEO benefit, other than pinterest must be very limited?

Oh and one more thing (promise this is the last) - those Capcha functions that we have to complete in order to comment - but econsultancy isnt the only one! ;-)

over 3 years ago

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pip

I enjoyed this post. Both entertaining and informative. Laughed so hard at all the replies from geeks on high horses. Still though, any publicity is good publicity - you got lots of replies and a debate going on, which is what the post is supposed to achieve.
Last word I hate captcha's too, i am now on my 20th attempt to post this reply.

over 3 years ago

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Lisa Moore

I think the title of this article is a little misleading. Poor workmen always blames their tools, in this case HTML5.

over 3 years ago

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Liam Hammett

404's are a trend now?

over 3 years ago

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Laure Moyle

" don't use technology for the sake of it". A long standing pet peeve of mine. So tempting, so easily done. Good to remind us all every now and then. Great post.

over 3 years ago

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Alex

Says the site with the giant JOIN FREE frame at the bottom of the page and sticky social sharing buttons.

Takes one to know one, I guess.

over 3 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Ben - Yes, perhaps it was but I don't know many people who would be prepared to wait for a minute to view the content on a page. I have been lobbying for change for years and as such agree with most of the critical comments towards our site - I will be pushing them in front of management. Fat for the fire.

@Bryan / @Chris / @Alex - You're not comparing apples with apples. A roll-up is intrusive, yes, but it's not as intrusive as an immediate pop-up in a lightbox that obscures the entire page. By all means suggest a more elegant solution if you can. Remember that business goals sometimes impact on UX, but there are all manner of trade offs.

@sebphfx - I don't understand why anybody would use an image to display text, given the options these days. Not good for Googlebot.

@Mark - I did, which is slightly ironic as I have a half-written blog post on the subject, and chasing footer links down a never-ending page isn't my idea of fun. Did you see that research Etsy put out, with regards to infinite scroll? Slideshow here: http://mcfunley.com/design-for-continuous-experimentation

@UI Architect / @Lisa - No, and I wasn't trying to, though I led on a clumsy headline (since updated) which gave that impression. Most of the outraged have failed to read the statements in my opening paragraphs. I'm simply trying to point out that I'm seeing lots of common UX problems on these 'amazing / creative / inspiring' HTML5 sites.

@Liam - No, it was pretty dumb of me to include that. A comment on style over substance, I guess.

over 3 years ago

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Ketharaman Swaminathan

It's a case of the lamp calling the pot black. Yours has one of the worst designs of any blogs I've come across: Complex reCAPTCHA, popup at the footer, no way to follow a post or comment, etc. You ask for suggestions for alternatives. I've said this on this blog before, let me say it again: Have a look at Finextra.com for a blog that is vibrant and engaging, yet not anarchic. I could go on and on but I've now come to your dreaded reCAPTCHA and I must conserve my energy to get past it.

over 3 years ago

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Mario

Author before you start bashing those sites you should take a good look at yours.

Start by removing that ReCaptcha on your comments. That is horrible UI and hands down the most annoying thing ever. It makes it really hard to interact with your site.

95% of your callous are design related. In terms of design, all those sites have yours beat.

over 3 years ago

Steve Davies

Steve Davies, CEO at Fitch Media

Chris, one consequence that you haven't yet mentioned, which drives me to distraction is the whole pre-loading, lazy loading (of content) and parallel loading of scripts which although allows content in the main viewport to load quickly, results in the extended loading of other content - some of which is not visible until you scroll down the page.

Mashable is one of the culprits in this regard who've taken the concept of page footers to the nth degree.

It's not so much of a problem on desktops, but on tablets the viewport ends up jumping around as more content is loaded, which can be infuriating with a touchscreen interface as you invariably click on the wrong hyperlink (just as something else loads which moves the target touchpoint 0.4cm further down).

By the way, I'm sure I'm not alone in finding footers like Mashable's infuriating - try clicking on the 'advertise with us' link at the bottom of the page - I can't without disabling JS on the page.

over 3 years ago

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Eric Pearson

These a vast majority of these examples have nothing to do with flash. Also, most of the "problems" stated here have never left, so how can they make a comeback? Other examples you mentioned are people simply trying to things in an attempt to be innovative. While their end result might not work for all users, maybe it works for their nitche? This list is bogus. Nothing in this list is even a trend. Wanna talk trends? Talk about responsive design. Talk about flat design. Those are trends.

over 3 years ago

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Deri Jones, CEO at SciVisum.co.uk

Chris

Your Tweet of yesterday still references HTMl5:

> 14 lousy web design trends that are making a comeback due to HTML5

Maybe that should be deleted too?

over 3 years ago

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Andrew

I see a resurgence of frame based designs. Granted, they might not implement it using frames, but it functionally is frames. I'm talking about websites that have some fake tool bar that is not at the top of the browser at the top of the page, but when you scroll down it is. Browser tabs have essentially taken over much of website navigation, rendering this pseudo-toolbar pointless. Take for instance, The Next Web. Hey, that's a frame on the left too! It isn't even obvious that I can scroll it either!

Even though it's not old, another thing I hate are websites that feel the need to have a button for every social media site ever. Suddenly, I have to scroll by 30 of the damn things just to read the comments. And I don't even use social media.

over 3 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Deri - I've been perfectly transparent Deri, if you read my comments. Yes, the original headline was clumsy, so I dropped the HTML5 bit (which in any case made sense in the context of the opening paragraphs, for anybody that bothered to read them). I also added a sentence at the end of the intro to further clarify that I am not blaming the tech (I said as much when referencing Flash, and think it is obvious to anyone who reads the post in full).

This is all about common design themes that are emerging on the new breed of HTML5 sites that other blogs have held up as being 'amazing / inspirational / creative'. Some of them are amazing. Most have good things going on. But there are things like start pages and loading screens creeping back, and I've personally had my fill of them, over the years.

over 3 years ago

Gemma Holloway

Gemma Holloway, Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai

I found some of these examples quite amusing particularly the site which is 'recommended to be viewed on an iPad'. It's all well and good having a swanky site which performs well on a tablet - But what about the rest of your users, talk about a great way to alienate!

I also had a little chuckle about the images as text malarkey. This is something that those in the SEO industry have been advising against for years and as search continues to grows it's not going to be something that is forgotten about quickly. I did enjoy the fact that that particular section of your blog needed very little explanation.

The things you have pointed out within this blog post seem almost obvious and it makes me wonder how 'experts' came to think these implementations were a good idea in the first place?

Awesome post - Thanks Chris

over 3 years ago

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Richard

Most of the web irritations are here, some of the problems with Flash sites back then was browser hijacking to force us to sit through their banal creations. I hated corporate sites, by far the worst offenders.

Also 100% black background with bright green (small text). Bleurrrgh!

Sites that don't provide non-javascript content or fail to notify users who legitimatly block scripts for security reasons, are just left staring at a blank page.

over 3 years ago

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Jon Quimbly

Good stuff, except disagree with - "most people do not use iPads to visit websites, and desktop users should not be forced into using arrow keys to navigate."

I surf all the time on my iPad. When not using my desktop.

But the worst part about sites that "optimize" for iPad is that they usually prevent pinch-zooming. So you're stuck with whatever tiny or massive font that suited the designer's eyes, and nothing else, unfortch.

over 3 years ago

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Diane

Writing about web design fails is cool, but then to put a link to the 'offending' website is just plain bitchy and totally clouds what ever message you was intended to send out.

over 3 years ago

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Dan Norman

First of all, congratulations on starting such a heated and emotive debate.

Second, I'm going to disagree with what I think is an unfairly judgemental and subjective article.

I'm not going to enter into the pot calling the kettle black debate but as a designer/developer I think the sites you've listed are, in many ways, genuinely creative and interesting (if not compliant or fully accessible).

We should see sites like this as the equivalent of the fashion catwalks of Paris and Milan. We're never going to see normal people walking down the road wearing the stuff you see on the runway, but such over-the-top design pushes the envelope of acceptability forward.

These websites epitomise the symbiosis of creative design and technology. Do they work in the real world? They do for some users and don't for others, the comments in this thread prove that. But rather than only criticising (or mocking) them, let's look at what we can learn from them (and I don't just mean "what not to do").

At the very least, they should be respected as the VERY talented designers that they are. They should be thanked for challenging us to think about websites as things of aesthetic beauty and not just technical installations. After all, these guys aren't forcing us to use their sites, just navigate away if it ain't your thing.

over 3 years ago

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sajeev vk, Director at thrissurproperties

A Good article
But these are not the faults of HTML 5 and CSS 3,
The faults are of designers and theirs poor logic Capcha a Big head ache, many times u could just guess, and 3 times it just make you a hell

over 3 years ago

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Johnny

Another: Forcing users to go through a lengthy registration process (with email validation and everything) just to do something minimal like 'thumb up' a user comment.

over 3 years ago

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Web Design Southport

Would you please share me the negative effect and positive effect of hidden navigation. As one of my website has hidden navigation should i Change it or not? It is designed by one of my freelancer web designer so please recommend me what i the good for me.

over 3 years ago

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Jan Wouter

I've got one annoying more for you. Example links on a webpage that don't open a new tab, but in the same one.
This way somebody leaves your original article and never comes back again.

over 3 years ago

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MrQwest

Are list posts making a come back too?

over 3 years ago

Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton, Editor in Chief at ClickZ Global

@Jan I think there are differing opinions on that one. Some people don't like a new window being opened for them, and there's always the back button.

Personally, I use CMD + T to open links in a new tab, so I'd rather leave the decision to the reader.

@MrQwest They never left us...

over 3 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Jon - About one in 20 of our audience use tablet devices to visit. That number is going to change for different sites, but I can't imagine any site yet attracts most of its visitors from tablet users.

@Diane - These same sites are held up as shining examples of what can be accomplished using HTML5 and other modern technologies. It's ok to link if you kiss ass, but not if you kick ass? Doesn't make sense to me. I don't like to point the finger, but at the same time I'm not going to blur logos and not credit screenshots. Plus, it would be rude not to link.

@Dan - Good points. Certainly I'm not here to mock and I have tons of respect for designers and developers (many of these sites have lots of good things going on too). I have tried to bring a bit of balance to the table because there are so many articles giving love to these kinds of sites, which I think suffer from some schoolboy UX issues. Maybe their users will tolerate these things, I don't know. My overarching point is that I don't want creativity to get in the way of usability for sites used by people who *don't* do design for a living and who won't tolerate some of these things.

@sajeev - I agree, I said as much. And yes, captchas totally suck.

@MrQwest - They never went away. They're meant to make it easy for people to digest and comprehend, but clearly this isn't always the case.

over 3 years ago

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WebGuy

It's so funny seeing HTML/CSS people getting all up in arms about this when they were the first ones to point out how Flash sucks (mostly because of the same things).

Flash doesn't suck (it's still years ahead of HTML5. It's incredible technology and tools are fantastic. HTML5 has it's own good things, but bad coders and bad designers will be doing bad things with any technology.

And btw, you will see much worse things going forward with HTML5/CSS3/JS as the technology itself is far less flexible and has too many downsides where designers and developers have to engage in hacks and all kinds of bad practices to try to achieve rich interactivity.

Ironically this is happening because even though "Flash was terrible" for it's rich interactivity, the same thing is now trying to be replicated by people with HTML5 and it's a disaster. Rich interactivity will always be needed and until HTML5/CSS3/JS have a unified rendering engine and great tools you will see these types of disasters going forward even more.

over 3 years ago

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Connie

I agree with most of this, but I disagree on your point about opening a link in the same webpage. It's really annoying to have to use the back arrow to continue reading where the link left off. I always right-click to open it in a separate tab.

More emphasis should be given to a couple of things:

1. White text on a dark background or that ubiquitous pale lavender text on an off-white background - neither are sophisticated or clever, they're actually childish and amateurish, like using too many colors on a webpage.

2. Tiny fonts - they're annoying and often cause me to click off a page immediately. Chances are pretty good that most of the wording needs to be culled.

over 3 years ago

Tom Howlett

Tom Howlett, Digital Marketing Executive at Koozai

Great examples. I never have really noticed the potential UX issues these design elements, but as you have mentioned them it makes sense.

I'm curious as to whether these 'trends' will result in search engine issues in terms of ranking moving forwards.

over 3 years ago

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Craig

I agree with most of this. Some sites over think themselves.

Here is a website for an advertising company that I have no idea what they were thinking

http://omd.com/ at first I couldn't figure it out. there are dark buttons on the side with black background. They are almost invisible. If you just scroll down the home page it get really ugly, really quickly.

over 3 years ago

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Long Island Web Design

Hiding the menus from a user is a no go out the gate. Unless your building a landing page there isn't any other real reason to make users solve a puzzle just to see your menu. We actually found the feather effect pretty cool. Maybe not relevant to the page it was on but could be a useful effect if designed in a way that is not too distracting.

over 3 years ago

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Jonathan Adams

Great list. I'm really tired of seeing all these things.

over 3 years ago

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Meh

Well, some of these aren't related to HTML5 at all, to be fair.

For the ones that are (enabled by HTML5)...but... but... but I thought dropping the EVIL 'proprietary' (ahem-consistent & standardized) Flash and using HTML5 was going to solve all our problems, and that all these annoying ads, stupid/slow websites, and pointless fluff was going to transform into a Magical Internet Kingdom?!?!?!?!

So all that hype and trash talk against Flash apps and ads (which by the way, were much, MUCH easier to block) was all a huge pile of bull and Apple trash talk based on "selected" examples and tunnel vision? Uh oh!

Also, the initial "some very impressive things" link almost made me vomit. Not only was that site slow as heck (as slow or more so than even the worst performing Flash site I've seen...not that they're typically slow when done right) - but somehow it caused my vertical scrollbar to completely vanish. What the hell? And no, I'm not using IE 8, I'm on an up to date Chrome browser. All this hype for stuff that Flash has let us do for years? (And do better, for the most part, if the developer has any standard of quality at all.)

Please, no more HTML5 hype. It's just another disappointing standard which will never live up to expectations.

over 3 years ago

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Chris

Autoplay...AUTOplay...AUTOPLAY!!!!!

Please, just stop this already.

Excellent article.

over 3 years ago

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Lech

I think sometimes for the sake of beauty, some parts of the user experience have to sacrifice.

over 3 years ago

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marthafawcett

Thanks for this information. Where my Wordpress website does not have any of these problems, I still find it difficult to use. Sometimes I feel as if I'm entering a foreign land in Wordpress when I want to make changes. The other problems I have with all sites are the tiny boxes they allow that only expand as you type. What's with that? Why can't someone make these websites apps more user friendly? Everytime I go to a new site, I have to waste my time learning how to use it before I actually can.

over 3 years ago

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Gagan

Great stuff! Absolutely agree, even as a web designer I have 0 patients for slow sites.

over 3 years ago

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Mike Spooner

Hopefully things will settle down soon once the novelty wears off <fingers crossed>.

The same kind of thing keeps happening whenever platform "shifts" or "steps"; similar kinds of experimental everything-and-the-kitchen-sink stupidities occurred when CSS1 cut in, and 90's client-side Java became very briefly fashionable.

Will we never learn?

over 3 years ago

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Jo Conner

Well, we are moving towards a more advanced world anyway so anything that has to do with the web is advancing at a faster rate than what is expected. Brilliant people with great minds are emerging and creating breakthroughs in wed designing.

over 3 years ago

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Barnaby Collis

Great post. Not quite sure about the 404 error which works for me.

over 3 years ago

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David

I agree with all 14. Loading screens were supposed to go away when fast connections got here. It's like how I got a faster computer when I was still in school and still a serious gamer, thinking that it would start up faster than my old, slower computer. I began putting games on that machine and heavily modding them to the point where it took 30-40 minutes to get to the main screen of one game. Both developers and users keep pushing the limits farther.

Autoplay: I have scoreboard pages for 3 major sports leagues in one folder of my bookmarks. When I opened all 3 at one time, all 3 had an autoplaying video. They were from the same site!

I'm trying to be judicious in my use of icons. I hate icon-heavy toolbars in desktop applications that make me think about what everything is.

Captchas: have you tried using invisible captchas on your blog?

over 3 years ago

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Michelle Glauser

Not to mention that the tie icon for a portfolio is rather gender-biased in my view.

over 3 years ago

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Christopher Mair, Founding Partner at DADI+Small Business

These are exceptions to the rule, rather than common trends.

over 3 years ago

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Chloe

Interesting article which has started an even more interesting debate... I also enjoyed the irony of the point "Lame pop-ups" whilst staring at the "Register for FREE" pop-up at the bottom of this very screen.

over 3 years ago

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Web Design Calgary

Automatically playing videos are just too much. Audio I understand more, they CAN help with the mood of the site, or whatever. Even then it's annoying because often people will have their own music going, or are listening to a podcast. Or don't want sound. So I usually stay away unless it's just a really simple short sound.

over 3 years ago

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Jonathan Stevens

I couldn't help but quite like the Bullit Agency's site, tbh =/

over 3 years ago

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DMorgan Designs

This article actually made me chuckle. I have noticed quite a few of these issues. Especially the contrast fails i get alot of that comes with people using templates on CMS and trying to edit them without much sucess.

P.s. I agree AUTOPLAY?!?! man that gets on my nerves...especially if sound is involved.

over 3 years ago

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Harry Gardiner

@Chris: I know you're getting a lot of flak for the misleading article title, but all in all this is a great list that identifies annoying web design trends. Albeit some of the sites mentioned do have their own individual merits in when considered in context.
But you're right, loading screens should never make a comeback. EVER. If there's too much information on the site for you to display straight away, maybe you should take the 'less is more approach'.
What's important is understandable, easy to navigate sites with clear information that makes the pages purpose obvious. Good design should follow suite. Sadly bad design perseveres.

over 3 years ago

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James

Sorry to say but i think flash has a place for context specific applications and believe it or not i think it will make a comeback in some form or another. Although there are many haters, Apple fuelled that trend and now that apple is dying a slow death because their devices are getting old, their innovation is 5 years behind and they cost a sizable premium over everything else but deliver nothing better than their competitors. even their iOS is getting buggy from bad code over the years. Their arrogance and smug facade is probably one attribute that will detract many from investing in them. People are starting to prepare for the the new evolution without apple because other providers don't block development of new apps and don't keep the lions share for themselves and give only peanuts to everyone else who does the hard work.

over 3 years ago

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Krupa

It's funny how as something new comes out, people jump on the bandwagon and are making the same website mistakes as before. It's like choosing what colours to paint a room but all the colour choices looked great so lets throw them all on and the room will look beautiful. Nope, it will be one hot mess.

over 3 years ago

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malachi

the comments are hilarious

over 3 years ago

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Sam

My comment from earlier today seems to have disappeared from this article. I hope it's not because it was in disagreement with the article.

over 3 years ago

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Carole M

Totally agree with many of your "fails" -- but now that I have my new reading glasses and scroll zoom on my mouse -- the small print on websites isn't SO BAD. (can't say the same about reading the ingredient list on grocery products - particularly the contrast of pale yellow writing on a pale green background??!)

But I have a confession - I did break my own rule about setting video's to autoplay (gulp). I have ONE video in my video library that plays automatically because I think it's stunning!

Cheers,

over 3 years ago

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Mark Wilderspin

Excellent!

- but you forgot to mention the re-introduction of bloated image sizes which I've noticed creeping back into play - probably as a result of too many content folk having only been around since fast broadband and who never leaned the discipline of lean content and which for mobile is especially pertinent :)

over 3 years ago

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Gautam

Great article but the fault is from designers end & not HTML or CSS

over 3 years ago

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wine dine

The autoplay sometimes seem to take longer load than the page :)

over 3 years ago

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marsha @ web design philippines

Yeah, I've already using again some what's on the list. :)

over 3 years ago

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Sam

Some things looks bad, but they taste good. If waiting for a few seconds can provide you a better browsing experience, my vote is with it.

over 3 years ago

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Ben Freelance Web Designer

Some of these points are so true —I think as the capabilities of HMTL 5 filter through to the non-technical layer, clients are more inclined to make feature requests because they can as opposed to because they should...

over 3 years ago

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Biogas Plant in Bangalore

Thanks for Sharing this good post ! I think these good information are very useful to every one.

over 3 years ago

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Marry

Thank you so much for sharing this nice post, It really help me a lot.

over 3 years ago

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Jae Rustia

nice post,

its funny that while reading your post I cant help but remember the recent websites and even free and paid templates that uses this trends.

hidden navigation, the contrast with colors combined with small fonts, grr i guess designers are really artistic, I've notice a lot of blogs using gradient colors over too small fonts i can no longer read, its also true that text are being replaced by images AGAIN, SEO's should talk to their designers about the importance of text for SEO purposes since what designers didn't know is that images are incomprehensible for search engines, thus they used their talents in creating cool graphics that would make the design look even better but as I said, its not good for SEO,

over 3 years ago

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simonfresh

What's funny is a web design trend worse than some of the ones listed is on this very page... drop down menus. At least make them usable with tuned timeouts.

over 3 years ago

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pr0

Some of you people need to work on your reading comprehension skills. The article doesn't say the bad design is a result of HTML5...the author said he visited several 'inspiring' HTML5 websites that had poor design. He even said that he isn't "pointing the finger at HTML5".

Unless the title and body of this article were changed after people made the comments, many of the people leaving comments need to get their goggles cleaned.

over 3 years ago

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Powerpeaker, Director at MWconsulting

Mostly of all these I hate loading screens - saw 2 yesterday. Will never understand whey they are there in the first place - just takes time, customers run away and it looks so bad and annoying!

about 3 years ago

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Jim Hunter, Consultant at VersionUX

Love the DKs reference. 'I Like Short Songs!' should be a UX mantra.

over 2 years ago

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Felix Michael, Owner at BA21 4DH

Great post. These are the few things one should avoid or look for while designing a web site. Personally for me, the most annoying one is "Let's Go Rally". The feature it use is amazing but the load time is way too much. and the image also doesn't provide much details.

about 2 years ago

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Christian zebrose, Manager at Web design

Yes these design are making a comeback nowadays. Today responsive design are also gaining popularity. I would like to recommend you a website https://www.pixiemedia.co.uk there one can get more information about responsive website design.

over 1 year ago

C C

C C, Chief Technology Consultant at TCG

I just want to say Chris is THANK YOU FOR WRITING ABOUT THIS! This trend has been driving me crazy, and is the opposite of good professional graphic designing.

There's one item you should add to your list: Disabling browser commands. I've noticed an increase of web pages that intentionally disable browser functions like <ESC>, Previous Page, and Zoom when their "we-are-going-to-make-you-register-whether-you-want-to-or-not" popover windows appear over the page you're reading. The only way for the User to exit is literally quit the entire page.

over 1 year ago

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