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A few years ago I compiled a list of things that I find abhorrent when using websites. Things that I cannot tolerate for more than a few seconds, and which invariably cause me to press the back button.

What am I referring to? Autosound, for starters. Pagination. Pop-ups. Slow loading speeds. And a whole bunch of other crimes against the user experience. You'll still encounter these things most days, unfortunately.  

Now, let's get this out of the way: our own website leaves a lot to be desired, from a user experience perspective. I reckon that at some point or other we have been guilty of about half of the points on my original list. It's very much an area that we're working hard on to improve. In order to do so it's important to know what not to do, and to understand what users hate.

With that in mind, and given that web usage habits have evolved in the past three years, I thought I'd aggregate a few more pet hates, so we can steer ourselves away from bounce rate hell. 

By all means add your own reasons for bailing out early in the comments section below. Ok, here goes...

#1: Sketchy contact links

When I click on a 'contact' link I expect to be taken to a new page, with various options, and ideally a form. Some firms avoid this and simply add a 'mailto:' link that opens up a desktop-based email client (that I never use... I prefer browser-based email these days). 

#2: Mobile websites with immediate 'download our app' messages

These are often delivered via a pop-up, or worse, an interstitial. "Download our app!" they say, every single time you forget not to visit. "Sod off," I reply. There are plenty of examples of this in the wild.

#3: HTML5 UX butchery

The return of shitty spinning navigation is back, only this time it works on an iPhone! HTML5 makes it easy to create baffling Flash-style interfaces, only in a more lightweight way. Just because you can doesn't mean you should

#4: Cookie warnings that you cannot close

This mainly happens on smartphones, making it impossible to view the content. Gotta love the EU.

#5: Forced social log ins

One of the worst phrases in the English language is: "Log in via Facebook." The biggest offenders are social shopping sites, which require you to either a) log in via Facebook, Twitter or Google+, and b) do not prove the option to register via email (which is so perplexingly stupid that I can barely bring myself to think about it). 

#6: Doubling down on the sign up process

You have to wonder why...

#7: Websites that stop the spacebar from working

I'm not a keyboard shortcut wizard by any means, but I probably use my space bar to page down 100+ times a day. Some sites prevent this from happening. I assume that's down to bad code, rather than a bad decision. Disabling the arrow keys is another sign of insanity. 

#8: Pricing options MIA

If you have standard products with standard prices then don't be afraid to reveal them. All too often I'll check out a new tool and the pricing options are impossible to find, which troubles me. Other sites hide their prices under a large quantity of bushels. I challenge you to find the prices for parking permits on Camden Council's website.

#9: Password fascists 

"Your password is invalid, it must contain numbers, capital letters, the name of your first pet, etc."

It's funny how many sites provide no guidance on what they need a password to look like but throw an error message in your face after you try to submit one. 

#10: Mobile sites that don’t allow you to view the desktop site

Until your mobile-optimised site works perfectly I think there should always be the option to access the main site.

#11: Sign up to our newsletter messages that appear after one second

Especially on those sites that you visit for the first time. How on earth are you supposed to know whether or not you want to stay tuned, if the website vomits a pop-up in front of your unsmiling face?

#12: Survey pop-ups that appear after one second

As per the above. If I haven't used the website then how the hell am I supposed to rate it? It's asking for trouble.

#13: Slide galleries

Ah, the joy I feel when I land on a page that has a condensed slide gallery embedded within. Sometimes this works well, but when it doesn't it is a new form of pagination, and at least half of the time I drop out as it's not especially user friendly. On many occasions the images are often small enough to display on one page, which only makes me wonder why they didn't do that, instead of forcing users to click 50 times to reach the end of the list.

#14: Date dodgers

Did you write that article today, or four years ago? Sometimes date stamps don't much matter, but more often than not they are important. Is the information I'm reading still relevant?

#15: Websites that disable copy & paste

Especially those lyrics sites... a heavy dose of irony, right there.

#16: White space abusers

On some sites you cannot click on what appears to be white space without being redirected to an advertiser’s website. As shady and desperate as it gets.

#17: FAQs with ‘contact us’ for answers

The thing about FAQs is that I'm not really interested in the Qs. I only want to see some answers. Why make me jump through hoops? Why bother with an FAQ section at all?

#18: Websites that pause your download when you change tab

See also: websites that pause pre-rolls ads in videos when you change tab, or worse, mute the ad.

#19: Hover = sound!

Pete, I feel your pain. 

#20: Stock images in place of real staff

A tactic normally used by agencies that consist of one person, who works on an ad hoc basis, and who only 'employs' smiling people in suits.

#21: Websites that have low security standards

Ok, I guess this isn't a reason to leave a website, but I'm putting it in here as it's very sketchy, and is certainly a reason to distrust a company's methods...

#22: Mobile optimised sites with no unsubscribe from email option

Yeah, that's going to suck.

That was very therapeutic, but what have I missed? What else annoys you? Do leave a comment below...

Chris Lake

Published 8 August, 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.

582 more posts from this author

Comments (55)

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Michaela Clement-Hayes, Communications Executive at FusePump Ltd

These are all so true and very frustrating - I just got a pop-up survey form after 10 seconds on a website.

I hadn't found what I was looking for in this time, so my feedback (had I actually filled out the form) would not have been complimentary!

about 3 years ago

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Petar Subotic

Content that is just a long list of winding about problems without offering any solutions or trying to understand why the decisions were made.

about 3 years ago

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Petar Subotic, Worker at Company

Also, when I have an account but the comments form doesn't check my email.

about 3 years ago

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Amanda Dodge

I hate when it's my first time on a website and it prompts me to sign up for a newsletter or like a page or surrender my first-born child as soon as the page loads. Let me decide after I click around or return multiple times whether or not I want to engage further.

about 3 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Petar - The decisions were made either out of ignorance, or because business goals usurped UX goals (and primarily to make more money). I'd have thought that the solutions are obvious. Point noted on the comments form.

about 3 years ago

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Troy

Ditto on all, especially the forced social log in.

And, what about those exceedingly annoying chat boxes that popup uninvited, and then float across your screen?

"Can we assist you?"

"No thanks, if I need your help I'll ask—Goodbye!"

about 3 years ago

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Cheri Marchio

Great article. I'd like to add sites without a site map and site with long scrolling content.

about 3 years ago

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Grace T

My newest pet peeve--trying to do some price checking online and all you get is "This price is so low we can't show it to you!" Then you have to put it into your cart to see the price, and it stays there for a while, just in case you forgot you really wanted it.
BUT THERE'S MORE!
Recently I've actually had to log into the site and it STILL won't show me the price!
And this happened on 4 of the largest electronics websites!
Needless to say, I got in my car and drove to a different store.

about 3 years ago

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Charlie.worrall

websites that you cant click the Facebook 'like' button n because the 'post to Facebook' box disappears after 1 second when you click it. (i.e. this website)

about 3 years ago

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Heikki Tenhunen

Sites that require captcha for commenting, login or other repetitive tasks. We can do better!

about 3 years ago

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Stefan

Without a physical address, VAT and company registration details* I suspect companies have something to hide .. and move on to their competitors

*Company & VAT reg details area legal requirement.

about 3 years ago

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Andrew Grant

Friggin' Captchas!!!
Like the one right here.
Is that a 'u' or an 'r'?
Do I need to copy upper and lower case?
Jeez, haven't you got a spam catcher on the back end? Why do I have to do all the work?
And another annoyance is irrelevant pictures with no explanation. Like the one at the top of this post.
Who is that mullet-head and what does he have to do with this article?
I guess it means something to you, but I feel like the only one in the room who doesn't get the joke.
Aprat from that, good article and you're right - an occasional rant is very therapeutic.
Thanks Chris

about 3 years ago

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Bec Vaughan, Head of Solutions at Venda

For me it has to be sites with infinite scrolling pages AND a footer with links you need - just when you think you're getting to the footer...more content!!
Scroll infinitely if you like, but get rid of the footer & put the useful links elsewhere.

about 3 years ago

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Luke Steer

Websites that make it look like they've embedded a tweet when all they've actually done is screenshot it.

about 3 years ago

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Cain

Sites should now be reaponsive too. Reading this article on my iPhone. It would be nice if it was responsive. Something E-Consultancy is addressing I believe.

about 3 years ago

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Mike Upton, E-Commerce Manager at Demon Tweeks

Websites that you can't right click on. I like to open in pages in new tabs for a lot of tasks, including opening multiple product pages on ecom sites. If I have to click back and forth in and out of product pages then I go from 0-bored in about 5 seconds flat.

about 3 years ago

Matthew Henton

Matthew Henton, Marketing Director at 31DOVER

I've written before about use of stock imagery on Contact Us pages. It's usually the same blonde smiley girl wearing a headset. I swear she's on 1,000 different Contact Us pages. We really don't need such a patronising visual clue.
http://www.themiserablemarketer.com/2011/10/smiley-girl-wearing-headset.html

about 3 years ago

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veiko herne

I once got an error stating that "your first pet name should be at least 5 characters long, contain one capital letter and two special characters" :)

about 3 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Charlie - Good spot, thanks. I've flagged it up.

@Cheri - I've seen some scrolling sites that really work, and others where it's a nightmare to navigate. I think it depends a bit on the content.

@Andrew - I agree, captchas totally suck, there has to be a better way! The picture is from the video of Chicago's soft rock classic 'If You Leave Me Now', and I suspect the joke is now very much on me.

@Bec - I totally forgot about the vanishing footer on scrolling sites! That should definitely have made the list. It can be deeply annoying.

@Luke - Actually I did embed the tweets but they weren't being displayed correctly, so I reverted to screenshots and reported the bug to the techies. Essentially you're seeing the same thing, so I'm not sure that I fully understand your issue.

about 3 years ago

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Sunrise Guided Visualizations

Thank you for this article! Like you, I dislike articles that run on from page to page, with only a paragraph or two on each page. And I dislike government websites where you cannot easily find the most basic information.

about 3 years ago

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Kelly

Like many others have said - Captcha; is it a 'r' and 'n' or an m, 'o' and 'l' or a 'd'?

about 3 years ago

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gina

AMEN to this list. I worked for a company who did some of these things and I said 'not a good idea, it annoys visitors'. They didn't listen and they wonder why they have such a high bounce rate. So it is nice to see a concise list of website and mobile site turn-offs. Most people online just want to get on a site, find what they are looking for, and get off. And if a site is compelling, where a visitor sees a bunch of things they like, they will be back. Just make it easy for them to subscribe. Simple and unobtrusive. Spend money and time on great content, Evergreen content/assets and building relationships and making site very easy to navigate (along with the onpage and offpage SEO strategies). IMHO. Thank you for posting this list. Time to share it with my old employer....lol.

about 3 years ago

Daniel Guest

Daniel Guest, Director at R-cubed

Really great article Chris,

on a side note I am now confused if I should use the space bar or the Page down buton to er page down..

about 3 years ago

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cool gadgets

LIKE THE TWEETS ... : Stock images in place of real staff
A tactical normally used by agencies that consist of one person, who works on an ad hoc basis, and who only 'employs' smiling people in suits.

about 3 years ago

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John Dineen

Great post. Have to disagree with your comment in point 17 though. "Why bother with an FAQ section at all?" - the issue is not whether FAQ's add value - they do - its with how they have traditionally been constructed and presented.

about 3 years ago

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Yepi Kizi

great ! thank you.
Content is very useful

about 3 years ago

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Kristin

Amen to #21! I email them back and tell them they need to fix it -- after removing the password from the body of the email, of course.

about 3 years ago

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Scott

Given that your previous article on this topic exclaimed that "typos and poor grammar do not send the right signals to the visitor", it's a bit disappointing to find at least 3 in this piece.

Practise what you preach?

about 3 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Scott - Care to point them out? I can't see any typos.

about 3 years ago

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Nashedur Rahman

Hi Chris,

Great info, I personally get really annoyed when pop ups appear to get my email address, puts me right off their website. I also don;t like when sites ask you to give them your facebook or twitter ID and then ask for your email address.

Thanks

Nash

about 3 years ago

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chitra

A very useful article. Now the website need to responsive. I hate the websites asking my email address. It gives me an idea of the points to be kept n mind while designing and testing he websites

about 3 years ago

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Helen

Websites which show drop down menus when you hover are fine on desktop but a nightmare on tablets. Trying to quickly jab the right option while it loads the wrong page for the 20th time is extremely irritating.

about 3 years ago

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Brad

Biggest pet peeve - sites that have advertising that shifts the layout of the site, constantly moving links causing me to click everything but what I actually want to click on!

about 3 years ago

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Cliff

Thank you for compiling this list. I feel that more webmasters needs to read it. Most of the things listed grind my gears

about 3 years ago

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Sarah

Chris, my tired eyes caught a few typos: #9 "capitals" without s; #20 "tactical" should read "tactic" ... Overall, they are really minor errors. But be sure to watch your grammar :)

about 3 years ago

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Nina Greaves

I was nodding sagely to each and every one of those points, it's as if you read my mind.

about 3 years ago

Josh Gill

Josh Gill, Digital Marketing Executive at Mediademon

Similar sentiment echoed here: http://www.mediademon.com/is-your-website-converting-visits-into-sales-or-turning-customers-away/

The importance of top notch user experience, cos we all hate little panickity turn-offs that drive us away from a site.

about 3 years ago

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Tyler

Get rid of ALL pop-up ads. They're intrusive, annoying and I never click on it to see where it takes me. I simply close it out. I agree with the obsessive use of asking us to log-in with our Facebook accounts. And that is the only option. Facebook is that popular that its now the only means to do anything online? I close out the box and avoid going to that website again. Nothing is that important.

about 3 years ago

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Tim

Just a thought, in complaining about others you've committed my cardinal sin. Pressing CTRL+Clicking on links should open in a new tab (the screenshots you've put above don't let you.) otherwise you have to go back, then find your place on the page. Bad form. Great article, but bad form.

about 3 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Tim - I totally agree, I can't stand that either. I actually mentioned this yesterday to our CTO. It's relatively new (certainly wasn't happening a year ago) and isn't intentional. The user should have control of the browser, nine times out of ten (I don't mind new tabs opening up for me in some circumstances, for example when I click on headline links in news aggregators). So thanks for flagging it up... it's a bug, and it will get fixed.

about 3 years ago

Chris Lake

Chris Lake, CEO at Empirical Proof

@Sarah - If ever we have the budget to hire a sub editor I'll give you a shout! Many thanks - all fixed now.

about 3 years ago

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Gerard

I would add autorun videos, especially for those of us with slow broadband, but i would imagine it annoys other too.

about 3 years ago

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Ray

Pop-up invitations to chat. 99 times out of 100 I definitely don't want to, on the hundredeth time, i think "yeah ok then" only to be told there is no one available.

about 3 years ago

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Sarah

Hi Chris, I'm the Content Manager for an e-commerce company and I happen to love editing. I'm glad I could help! Contact me anytime.

about 3 years ago

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Kendall

How about links that open up in the same tab? If I click on something in the middle of the article, it doesn't necessarily mean I am done reading that article. See #3.

about 3 years ago

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Bryan Hee

The most irritative is sign up to our newsletter messages that appear after one second i visited the blog.

almost 3 years ago

Sean Owens

Sean Owens, MD at Willows Consulting

never knew the spacebar allowed you to page down, 10 years not knowing that one , thanks ;-)

almost 3 years ago

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Anita

This is a very valid list and I would add unresponsive design websites which mean that you are less likely to want to navigate around the site because you can't view the content.

almost 3 years ago

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Bill

A very nice article. You make excellent points. I am a firm believer in allowing my visitors to browse the sites as suits them. I totally agree with you about prompting for information from a visitor too soon after their arrival. Gathering information is very useful but allow people to give it when they are ready.

Thank you for a well written article.

almost 3 years ago

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bob brucker

this is a great article, i have passed your test 100% perfectly:)
i hate all the smae things you hate... however, i have 22 other things i hate:)

almost 3 years ago

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Matt Wilkinson, Senior Ecommerce Manager at Gatwick AirportEnterprise

Great article.. captchas for me too ..aaahhhh lol

almost 3 years ago

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Jack Britton, Technical Assistant at LogicalJack SEO

Number 11 & Number 12 are my biggest pet peeves in the industry - there are so many better ways to achieve similar results without upsetting such a large number of visitors.

Great post - may have to send this to some clients now

almost 3 years ago

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Marty Rogers, Online Marketing Manager at Epic New Media

Brilliant list Chris.

The date dodging one is a personal pet peeve of mine - I find it very frustrating. Just tell us when you wrote it - grrr!

over 2 years ago

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Gee Wiz, work at work usa

Sites with extensive registration process
For that matter, sites that require login just to comment.
Also hate sites where comments are reviewed before being posted.

over 2 years ago

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Damian Thomas, Web designer at Thomas Design

Totally agree with point 10, that's one of my biggest pet hates! I'm not a big fan of mobile responsive websites and that's one of the main reasons why, their often not user-friendly and when I started designing websites approx 13 years ago, usability was a key factor.

over 2 years ago

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