Last year I wrote 10 Major Internet Irritations. That post got a lot of comments with most visitors agreeing on other irritants spoiling the Internet experience. You'll probably have noticed that I write a lot on both blogs and on my website about website design, etc. My purpose in doing this is to help you make the most of your Internet presence.
Every time I discuss Internet writing and website design, people comment about things that drive them up a wall and make them, well, cranky. When I review websites, I try to be diplomatic and mention easy ways the website owner can improve his/her site. I find myself mentioning the same elements over and over. Of course this must mean it's time for another blog post about Internet irritants. This list came from comments from visitors and from my own cranky files.
In no particular order, here are 10 More Internet Irritants.
1. Webpages with black or dark backgrounds and white or other light-colored text.
For anyone who has far-sightedness, astigmatism, presbyopia, or just plain tired eyes from staring at a computer monitor all day, there is no worse design for a webpage. With so many negative comments about black background/white text, I don't know why this design is even offered.
2. Entry pages - unless because of age requirement for the site.
Oh, but these are universally hated. When someone visits your site, they don't want to have to click another icon to get to the site. Another reason entry pages are bad is that they are not crawled by the web spiders so they will result in low Google PageRank and low SERP placement.
Oh, my! If you had to name one thing that is most hated, it would be music. Not that people hate music. They just hate other people's music commandeering their speakers that's already playing something of their own choosing. Or the music that suddenly pours from the site you clicked on is something the listener utterly hates i.e. techno bombarding the ears of a string-quartet lover or Beethoven doing the same for someone who's into Toby Keith.
Most people dislike this so much that they immediately hit the back button rather than hit the icon that says "turn music off." Many avoid roaming MySpace sites for this reason.
4. Lots of different fonts in lots of different sizes and colors.
Other than a font for headings and a different one for the body of an article, you shouldn't change fonts. It's a design thing. You want fonts that don't scream: Look at me! You want the content to be the center of attention. Same goes for color. Black on white or light colored background. Bold face and Italic where appropriate. Trust me on this. Or ask a graphic design specialist. Just because you can select 144 different font colors doesn't mean you should.
5. Dancing, wiggling, jumping, pulsating images.
As I said above, your content - your words - is what you want people to remember so eliminate all those old-school gif animations and Flash scripts. The only smiley face anyone wants to see is a still photograph of you the writer.
6. Unpleasant ads.
Ads that are bigger than a breadbox or the banner box holding the title of your site. Ads with video that open without you doing anything. Ads that pulsate, blink, or have animation elements. Ads that take up more space on your blog than your written content. A gazillion social network and referral badges that take precedence over your most recent content.
Sure, you can make money on your website, but people won't visit you to help you make money. They will visit if you give them good content. The monetization should be secondary, not your primary focus.
Never have an ad above your website title. You want to brand yourself and your site, not a commercial entity's products and services. Put those ad banners in the sidebar or at the bottom. And never have more ads than content.
7. Websites with poorly arranged elements.
Look at a website that's popular and study how the elements are arranged. Is everything orderly so that you can find out about the writer, find an email address, and easily find articles in specific categories? That's what you should be aiming for. You don't want things scattered all over the place as if they were after-thoughts. You also don't there to be so much on each page that scrolling to the break takes minutes instead of seconds. Scrolling the whole length of the page gets abandoned. And never forget to have a Contact page or email link on your site. On blogs, you can always hit Comment, but on websites, there's no way to get in touch with the owner if this is omitted.
8. Webpages with no white space.
You know what I mean - those pages where text spans margin to margin without so much as a quarter inch of space on the sides - so long top to bottom that you have to scroll and scroll to find the end.
In print publishing, white space is a required design element. There has to be sufficient white space to allow the eye to rest. White space makes reading easy. Many website novices either don't know this or haven't learn it because their goal seems to be to take all the space for text with very little margins around.
9. Text not formatted for Internet publishing.
The way you write for electronic publishing is different than the way you write for print publishing. Learn the difference. I've touched on this before. I'll post on it again in the near future.
10. Sites that are slow-loading.
It doesn't help to put a disclaimer: "This site is graphic-intensive, but worth the wait." No one will hang around and wait for it to load. Your disclaimer doesn't convince them. They don't care. They just move on.
Learn some basic website design elements and study a lot of sites so you can put your best foot forward instead of shooting yourself in the foot.