I recently read an article on the HubSpot blog: 15 Things People Absolutely Hate About Your Website. I agree with most of the items on their list… but not everything! Below I included their list, along with my opinion on whether I agree with them – or not!
1. Pop-Up Ads
HubSpot says it well: “…a pop-up could get you a few new email subscribers, but is that really worth all the traffic you lose when visitors abandon your site in annoyance?” Besides being extremely annoying, pop-up ads may distract your visitors from reading the important content on your page.
2. Automatically Playing Multimedia Content When a Page Loads
This is one of my biggest pet peeves with websites. If I want to listen to your audio or watch your video, I’ll press play. If you force it on me, I’m likely to leave your website.
3. Disorienting Animations
Save the blinking, flashing, dancing, falling-from-the-top-of-the-page effects for a children’s website. They are the only ones that appreciate them.
4. Generic Stock Photography – HubSpot refers to a photo of business people at a conference table smiling over some paperwork that they’re all looking at. It’s pretty obvious to the visitor that these people don’t work at this business, so it comes across as being cheesy.
I agree that a photo such as this is poorly-chosen; however I don’t think it’s necessary to write off all stock photography. When chosen well, it can enhance the reader’s experience, further explain the content, and help to break up long blocks of text on the page.
5. Including a ‘Contact Us’ Form in Lieu of Contact Information – Hubspot clarifies this point by saying that a contact form shouldn’t be the only form of communication you offer to your visitor.
I recommend giving your website visitors several options to choose from such as an email address, a telephone number, or links to your social media accounts. I would also expand this point to include websites that don’t have a prominent “Contact Us” link in their menu.
6. Unintelligible ‘About Us’ Page
Does your “About Us” page use a lot of jargon that only people in your industry would understand? Try reading your website copy out loud. Is this how you would normally talk to your customers? If not, try re-writing it to make sure it’s easily understandable. I would also recommend doing this check on all main pages of your website, not just on the “About Us” page.
7. SEO-Driven Copy – The HubSpot article refers to, “copy you’d find nothing more than a bunch of keyword-dense copy meant for crawlers, not humans.”
Besides being annoying to your website visitors, you can also get penalized from Google for having overly-optimized content.
8. Not Including Social Sharing Buttons on Your Content
If your content is compelling and useful, people will want to share it. Make it easy on them by including social sharing buttons in an easy-to-spot location on your page. Some of the more popular buttons include Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and LinkedIn.
9. You Don’t Have a Blog
This is one of the items I disagree with. Although I do highly recommend having a blog on your website, I don’t think the absence of a blog is something people hate about websites.
10. Titles and Content are Incongruous
Make sure your page title appropriately describes the content of the page or article. HubSpot sums it up nicely: “Great titles are what cause people to click through in their RSS, emails, and search engines to read what you have written. But if they’re met with content that’s unrelated to the title you provided, you’ll disappoint visitors — and they’ll abandon your site.”
11. Your Call-to-Action (CTA) Copy Doesn’t Align With the Offer
For example, don’t have a “Get Your Free Widget!” CTA button that takes your visitors to a landing page that includes a major caveat such as “with a one year pre-paid contract.” Be upfront with your visitors before they get to the landing page.
12. Your Internal Linking Isn’t User-Friendly – This refers to having links on your web page that link to other pages on your website.
Have your links point to relevant web pages. And keep your content easy-to-read by not adding so many links that it becomes distracting to the reader.
The HubSpot article also recommends that all links open in a new browser tab or window. I disagree with this tip. It’s annoying to have new windows of the same website popping up every time you click a link to get to a different page. As a general rule of thumb, I tend to have internal links (links to pages in my website) open in the same window and external links (links to other websites) open up in a new tab or window.
13. Sliders That Take Forever and Ever to Load
If you have an image slider on your website, make sure the images load quickly. People aren’t going to wait around to see what fancy graphics you have!
14. Using Flash
This is a point that I only partially agree with. If your flash takes a very long time to load or if it really doesn’t serve a useful purpose, I agree!
However assuming your flash loads quickly, for some industries using flash makes sense (for example, an artist’s portfolio). I have also seen examples of websites that have a flash component on their web page that ties in nicely with their content.
15. The Worst Offender: I Don’t Know What to Do
The article says that website visitors should “…immediately see what your website does, what the value of that is, and what they should do next.” And I agree. If someone is lost on your website, they won’t be sticking around for long.
My next blog article includes a list of additional Things People Hate About Websites. What do you hate about websites? Let me know in the comments!