Two years ago I wrote about the 25 things that will make me leave a website in less than 10 seconds. I covered pop-ups, autosound, and a bunch of other user experience face palms. Sadly, most of these things are still used by perpetrators of various shapes and sizes.

In addition, websites can baffle and perplex users in equal measure. I have compiled a list of 20 things that need to be cleaved in two by digital professionals, in order to make the web a better place for all. 

No doubt I’ll have missed some of your pet hates, so do leave a comment below. 

Tiny fonts for key navigation

Paginated search results can be difficult to browse through because the font size is too small. At the very least give me a big arrow or chunky ‘next’ link to click. This is becoming even more important given the adoption of tablets and smartphones, especially for users afflicted with fat fingers. For example, the normally excellent ASOS has yet to roll out bigger buttons for people who like to browse this way. Perhaps it knows something I don’t…

Sticky content overkill

Pinning content to the top or bottom of a web page was one of the experiential design trends I identified for 2012. I quite like it, if it’s not too in-your-face, but sometimes the implementation can suck (positioning this sticky navigation over existing content is the most common issue). However some sites take sticky content a little too far. Take a look at USA Today – it pins content to the top and the bottom of its page, thereby narrowing the space reserved for its main content.


Badly labelled forms

If you need an eight-character password with letters and numbers and punctuation then please tell me in advance.

Lack of inline validation on forms

We should all be doing this, given how easy it is. Inline validation improves the user experience and reduces form abandonment rates. Twitter does it well:


Dumb as a brick forms

You know, those forms that ask for a telephone number but don’t cater for spaces, then freak out when you put one in. 

Postcode problems

Take eBay, which won’t let me use the first-half of my postcode. More often than not the full postcode isn’t essential for what I’m trying to do. Just show me some results, and let’s finesse the detail later. A little server-side processing could easily resolve these kinds of postcode errors on e-commerce sites

‘Install the latest version’ messages

Obviously I don’t mind doing this once in a while, but some web apps seem to require an update every single time I turn them on. Others just don’t know when to stop. I can’t switch on Spotify without it forcing me to ignore or otherwise close the ‘install’ header messages, which are often layered one on top of the other, requiring multiple clicks to make them go away. It’s all very silly.


Am I logged in or not?

This happens with a bunch of sites that seem to half remember who I am. For example, Just Eat shows this message when I visit, yet the minute I try to order it prompts me to log in.


Browser fascism

“Best viewed using IE.” Really? This is one retro web trend that seems to be making an unwelcome comeback in some quarters.

Stupid ad targeting

This never fails to amaze me. Some of the world’s top brands continue to advertise on the cheap, gleefully ignoring filters and targeting, and making mistakes like this shocker from Disney (NSFW, but well worth a listen). I find this more stupid than annoying, given how much the big companies spend on brand advertising.

Punch in the face newsletter / join us ads

Many sites continue to throw a self-serving pop-up at you the very second that you land on the website. More often than not I don’t actually know if it’s worth signing up, as I’ve had no chance to read the content. Wouldn’t it be better to wait for half a minute, to show a little leg first?

Random scrolling

I’ve never been a big fan of too much scrolling, though it definitely works in some situations. However, horizontal scrolling remains counter-intuitive, and some sites are behaving like excitable puppies. Take for example the Dom Perignon website, which forces you to manoeuvre in all sorts of different directions, for reasons that I cannot fathom. 

Links that appear in new windows

We’ve all had tabbed browsers for years. What on earth would you want to open a link a new window for?

Links that you can’t open in a new tab

Too many sites override the option to open up a link in a new tab, which is something I constantly do, especially when shopping online and browsing multiple items. Superdry, an e-commerce site that I otherwise rather like, fails on this point.

Cookie warnings

Well let’s face it: they’re ghastly. 

Use Facebook or sod off

I’m all for making the registration / log in process as quick and easy as possible, but forcing people to join Facebook or Twitter in order to sign up to your service is ridiculous. That’s you we’re talking about, Klout. The same applies to websites that use Facebook to power user comments, with no option to comment in another way. Stop walling up the garden!

Insane backgrounds

These are few and far between but have you ever seen a crazier restaurant website than this? (NSFW) 

No ‘search’ option on e-commerce sites

Honestly, Gap, you should know better (likewise H&M). There are plenty of other site search dodgers, for reasons too illogical to go into.

Stock photos

Many websites have used stock photos, but this is not how women eat salad. Why not invest in original content, or try crowdsourcing pictures from your community?

Death by social buttons

We recently increased the prominence of our social buttons, and were subsequently underwhelmed to discover that there was no significant uplift in click rates. As such I wonder whether some websites give too much promotion to these things? It is clear that many people share content without clicking on a web page’s ‘tweet’ or ‘Like’ icon, so perhaps devoting lots of page estate to social buttons are overvalued? 

What do you find most annoying about the web? What is the one thing you’d like to banish forevermore?