Web Usability Blunders That Still Piss Me Off

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It’s 2009, and although website usability practices have gotten overwhelmingly better over the past decade, there are a few slip-ups that I still see far more often than I should, even on sites designed by professional agencies. I’m certainly not proclaiming to be a usability guru like Jakob Nielsen, but these usability issues are easily avoided (and won’t sacrifice your design) using a little forethought, usually in the design-phase of development.

Like so many other usability issues, I suspect that many of these issues may be a result of graphic designers without extensive web experience, as the problems I’m still seeing are problems that are specific to the online medium. I’m certain they are not intentional decisions, but they simply must stop.

When I started in web development, there weren’t many resources (books, classes, etc) for people who wanted to learn, so we sort of had to guess, and make it up as we went along. That is no longer the case, with millions of web development usability articles and websites available online, and there just isn’t any excuse for these same problems to continue emerging.

These are just the ones I’ve run into today, and there’s a good chance I’ll be adding to the list, as I tend to be easily pissed off (as anyone who follows me on Twitter can attest to).

Link colors MUST be a different color than ANY other text

The fastest way to confuse a user is to obfuscate what text on the page is clickable and what isn’t.

I get it – you want to keep the same color scheme on a website. Excellent advice. But when you’re designing the layout in Photoshop, you should reserve at least two colors that no other text on the site gets to use – one for unvisited link colors, and one for visited link colors. They can (and should) be colors that work well with the color scheme, but they must be unique to links, period. NO exceptions. They cannot be the same color as your headlines, they cannot be the same color as your emphasis text. They must be unique so that the user can quickly and easily recognize what text is linked.

If Link Colors Are Similar to Body Text, Leave Underlines ON

While monitors have gotten better, and graphics cards are incredible these days, people’s eyesight and monitor configuration are two factors you simply cannot control. On a low-contrast monitor, your users may not be able to visually pick out what text is #000000 (black) and what text is #4e1802 (the dark brown link color on snipe.net).

If the colors used in your body text and the colors used in your link text are even remotely similar, leave the underlining effect on your links. If a user isn’t sure whether the text in question is actually a link, that underline makes a difference. If you don’t want underlines on your links, pick a different link color. Period.

STOP underlining text that isn’t a LINK

I don’t see this one as often anymore, thankfully, but I still come across it at least once a week, which is once a week too damned often. Again, this is likely a throwback from print designers, where underlining is an accepted and effective way to draw emphasis to text. Users have been conditioned to understand that underlined text = hyperlink. Online, the only reason text should ever be underlined is if it’s a link. Period.

Don’t use initial icons as the only way to indicate section content

I still see this one a lot – on a website, there is a toolbar with icon-only navigation: a picture of an envelope to indicate “contact” or “email”, a picture of a newspaper to indicate “news”, and an information-booth-style letter “i” to indicate “information.” At first glance, this makes perfect sense – except for the fact that not everyone visiting your website will be English-speaking, and the word for “information” doesn’t start with an “i” in every language.

If you’re going to use an “i”, at least pair it with the word “information.” Unless you provide versions of your site in other languages, it can be assumed that your site visitor understands at least a little English (and I’m targeting this at English websites, but the same rules apply for sites written in other languages), so the word “information” will make sense to them. People who speak multiple languages can handle seeing the word, but their brain is going to default to their own language when looking at initials.

Keep outside navigation elements far away from form elements

At my previous job in the web development department of a major newspaper, we had a back-end interface that allowed writers to publish their articles to the website. I wish I had taken a screenshot before I left. In the left-column of the page, there was an interface that allowed you to select a section title so that you could administer the articles within that section. The section names were all in a dropdown menu (which makes sense), with a “go” button to the right. Directly below that dropdown menu was a link that brought the user back to the admin home.

I cannot tell you how many times I accidentally clicked on that link while working with the admin. Absolutely aggravating, and completely avoidable if the developer had put just an iota of thought into it.

If your site has a login for members or customers, don’t hide the link

In most cases, members or customers are a website’s bread and butter. They are content contributors or paying customers who return to your site regularly – and they pay your bills, whether it’s through ad revenue or a paid service. Two websites I use often, Constant Contact and Paytrust, used to have large login/register boxes on their homepage that was easy for returning visitors to find.

For some reason that is completely beyond me, they have since moved things around, so that the only way to login is to locate the tiny link in the top-right of the screen. For a returning user, this was maddening. I had to actually search around on the page just to find the option to login for services I am paying for! As a returning visitor, the only reason I have to be at that site is to use the services that I can only access after logging in. Their non-login content is useless to me – its not like a news site that offers some content to unregistered users and premium content to registered users or customers. I’d like to find the designers responsible for that move and kick them in the ass.

Don’t make people hunt down the one part of your website that pays your bills.

I still really hate dynamic dropdown menus. A lot.

I know they’ve become more universally accepted over the years, but I really, really hate them. They are almost always poorly implemented, and very often interfere with forms or flash elements on the page if the developer did not use the proper z-index. They are hard to control, and require me to really pay attention to where I’m putting the mouse, especially if they (god forbid) have subcategory options.

I find them clumsy, and a cop-out, and refuse to believe that a better design with a little more thought could not have solved the navigation problem. (My philosophy was a major point of contention between myself and the powers that be at the aforementioned major newspaper, who uses dynamic dropdowns.)

Stop changing the size of my freaking browser window

If your website relies on a specific browser window size, you are made of fail. If you resize my browser window without my permission, I will leave your site before your 900 meg flash movie has even finished loading. I will wish bad things for you and your family, and you will certainly never, ever, ever have me as a customer.

Enough with the no-right-click javascript

Again, I state – it’s 2009. If I want to steal your content, I will, and you will not be able to stop me. I will use a website ripping application and download it directly to my hard drive, I will disable javascript in Firefox (rendering your pathetic script useless), I will use cmd+c to bypass the right-click, I will screenshot your images, or one of any other additional ways to get around it. One thing you can be guaranteed – I will leave your website angry and never come back.

The funny thing is, I wasn’t even trying to steal your content. I was trying to right+click to open another page of your site in a new tab, so I could come back to it after I was finished with the page I was on.

Stop linking to the same place using different navigation

This is yet another one that comes from my former place of business. In their dynamic dropdown menu (kill me now, seriously), in the Contact section, they had a link to “about us”, a link to “contact us”, and a link to “submit an editorial” – all going to the exact same place. This issue doesn’t stick in my craw as much as many of the other ones on this list, but it does still piss me off.

Navigation elements should always be very clear as to where they go. A returning visitor who clicks on one of the links within the Contact Us section already knows they cannot ultimately trust what the labels say, and they know they are going to have to search further on the page they get to in order to find exactly what they want. Lame.

Stop playing audio when I load your website

Is it 1998 again? For the love of all that is holy, do not auto-play video with audio when I load the page, and stay the hell away from those abhorrent “talking avatars” and “talking video ads” that pop up in the lower part of many news websites. Maybe I’m browsing your website at work, or in the library, or maybe I have my speakers waaay up because I was listening to a four-hour marathon of 80’s hair metal. Whatever my situation, you’ve now pissed me off and I’m closing the browser tab and your site with it. *click* Now I will never even know what you were trying to sell me.

Do we really need “reset” form buttons anymore?

On short forms, I guess I can understand – but on long, involved forms? What user suddenly realizes that they accidentally filled in every single form field incorrectly and they need to start over? What will happen for more often is that because you out the “reset” button too close to the “submit” button, a user intending to submit your form has just wiped all of their data. Congrats.

I KNOW that’s not all of them, but those are the ones that pissed me off today. What pisses you off? Leave your peeves in the comments.

If you’re a developer or designer, you may want to check out webpagesthatsuck.com – these guys have been around forever, and while many of their top picks are painfully obvious (to the point of probably not needing to be mentioned), they do show great examples of a few of the more nuanced usability issues. Also check out Usability Post for common mistakes, and practical solutions. These guys really tackle the nuance stuff, and give clear examples of how it could have been done better.

On the other end of this spectrum, it can be easy to get caught up in obsessing about usability, and lamenting the fact that your company cannot afford formal usability testing for every (or any) websites you produce. The thing is, you can.

One trick I’ve used in the past is to park myself and a laptop at a local Starbucks. I would approach customers, asking them if they would take 5 minutes to look at the site and tell me what they thought, in return for a 5-dollar Starbucks giftcard. You should, of course, clear this with Starbucks before trying it, but since you’re buying giftcards, they usually won’t say no. I’ve found that watching the user’s reactions can often be as valuable as what comes out of their mouth.

If you’ve got a little more dough, but not enough for formal usability testing, check out Morae, which lets you use cheap webcams to set up a complete usability lab in your office without fancy equipment or one-way glass. For about $3,000, you can purchase their entire suite (base software runs $1,500) and you can use it again and again.

  • Typical Web Usability Blunders – http://tinyurl.com/7egyy9 by @snipeyhead

  • kl

    My clients piss me off. They come from print media, where blue links in text are bad. Black and non-underlined, that’s it!

    And they want no :visited color, because that breaks consistency of the color scheme.

    Don’t get me started on text wrapping…

  • kl

    My clients piss me off. They come from print media, where blue links in text are bad. Black and non-underlined, that’s it!

    And they want no :visited color, because that breaks consistency of the color scheme.

    Don’t get me started on text wrapping…

  • Anonymous

    My 2 cents: websites should not open links in a new window as I’m quite capable to decide whether I want that myself

  • My 2 cents: websites should not open links in a new window as I’m quite capable to decide whether I want that myself

  • K

    I agree with what you said, but you break two of my “rules”:

    – Why require email on your comments form? As you probably see, the email I have entered is not valid anyway so it’s useless. It should be optional for those who wish to be notified of followup comments or if you use it for identitfying return visitors.

    – There is not enough contrast between the text and the background, which makes it a bit hard on my eyes.

  • K

    I agree with what you said, but you break two of my “rules”:

    – Why require email on your comments form? As you probably see, the email I have entered is not valid anyway so it’s useless. It should be optional for those who wish to be notified of followup comments or if you use it for identitfying return visitors.

    – There is not enough contrast between the text and the background, which makes it a bit hard on my eyes.

  • joe

    Good points.

    I’m not trying to snipe, but here are some suggestions for you:
    – “A lot” not “Alot”

    – The thin font against the textured background is nearly impossible to read unless I size up the font and then -A to provide a background to the text.

    – The web is largely English (although changing). So, I’m comfortable using English icons, phrases, triggers, etc. A round blue icon with an ‘i’ is acceptable, to me, to indicate ‘information’ — for a website with English content.

    Yes, please gauge your content and distribution. If you are heavily visited by non-English, then do something better (alt text, differing icons, etc.)

    • joe

      Oh … ha, sorry. I hadn’t realized the pun (i.e., snipe).
      🙂

  • joe

    Good points.

    I’m not trying to snipe, but here are some suggestions for you:
    – “A lot” not “Alot”

    – The thin font against the textured background is nearly impossible to read unless I size up the font and then -A to provide a background to the text.

    – The web is largely English (although changing). So, I’m comfortable using English icons, phrases, triggers, etc. A round blue icon with an ‘i’ is acceptable, to me, to indicate ‘information’ — for a website with English content.

    Yes, please gauge your content and distribution. If you are heavily visited by non-English, then do something better (alt text, differing icons, etc.)

    • joe

      Oh … ha, sorry. I hadn’t realized the pun (i.e., snipe).
      🙂

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  • kl – I hear that! I have one client who doesn’t allow their two-part name to broken across lines from wrapping, so I have to add nobreak css around their name everywhere it appears. Did I mention they still use IE6? Kill me now.

    Casper – that seems to be a point that’s widely debated. I don’t care one way or another, which is why it didn’t make my list. I generally make offsite links open in new tabs, while keeping internal links in the same tab. You’re capable of doing that yourself, but not everyone knows how.

    K – requiring a name and email address is pretty standard fare in blogs. I personally like to be able to contact someone directly (if, for example, they’re reporting a problem and are not subscribed to receive follow-up comments) I don’t require a login, so I don’t think an email address field is such a tough thing to ask for. The email address never appears anywhere on the website, and if you’re afraid I will do something bad with it, you’re always welcome to put in a fake one (as you did, and will therefore probably not even see this reply) or not comment.

    You and Joe were the first two people who mentioned a difficulty in reading the text on the background, which surprises me, as I had tested this design pretty thoroughly, on darker monitors, with people who are farsighted, and so on. It’s good to know though, and I’ll take that into consideration.

    Joe – see above for contrast comment. I’m afraid I just can’t agree with you on the English-speaking bit though. Using an “i” instead of a question mark or something that’s easier to understand is just lazy to me. There are other ways to solve the problem, so sticking with an English-centric solution seems like a cop-out. It’s not as much a matter of knowing your audience – on all of the sites I run, I’m always amazed at how many people are coming in from other countries, even if just to read content and then leave. There are alternate ways to handle the navigation, so I feel they should be used. Just MHO though.

    (And I can’t believe I actually wrote “alot” – that’s one of my pet peeves as well, so I’m not sure how I missed it. Thanks for the heads up!)

  • kl – I hear that! I have one client who doesn’t allow their two-part name to broken across lines from wrapping, so I have to add nobreak css around their name everywhere it appears. Did I mention they still use IE6? Kill me now.

    Casper – that seems to be a point that’s widely debated. I don’t care one way or another, which is why it didn’t make my list. I generally make offsite links open in new tabs, while keeping internal links in the same tab. You’re capable of doing that yourself, but not everyone knows how.

    K – requiring a name and email address is pretty standard fare in blogs. I personally like to be able to contact someone directly (if, for example, they’re reporting a problem and are not subscribed to receive follow-up comments) I don’t require a login, so I don’t think an email address field is such a tough thing to ask for. The email address never appears anywhere on the website, and if you’re afraid I will do something bad with it, you’re always welcome to put in a fake one (as you did, and will therefore probably not even see this reply) or not comment.

    You and Joe were the first two people who mentioned a difficulty in reading the text on the background, which surprises me, as I had tested this design pretty thoroughly, on darker monitors, with people who are farsighted, and so on. It’s good to know though, and I’ll take that into consideration.

    Joe – see above for contrast comment. I’m afraid I just can’t agree with you on the English-speaking bit though. Using an “i” instead of a question mark or something that’s easier to understand is just lazy to me. There are other ways to solve the problem, so sticking with an English-centric solution seems like a cop-out. It’s not as much a matter of knowing your audience – on all of the sites I run, I’m always amazed at how many people are coming in from other countries, even if just to read content and then leave. There are alternate ways to handle the navigation, so I feel they should be used. Just MHO though.

    (And I can’t believe I actually wrote “alot” – that’s one of my pet peeves as well, so I’m not sure how I missed it. Thanks for the heads up!)

  • Hi. I’m just writing to chime in on the text/background question. I also have difficulty reading the text on this background.

    I know you’re on top of it, but thought it helpful to add to the sample size.

  • Hi. I’m just writing to chime in on the text/background question. I also have difficulty reading the text on this background.

    I know you’re on top of it, but thought it helpful to add to the sample size.

  • Another note, this time on the Twitter field in your comments form.

    It’d be great if it would auto-strip the @ if entered with the visitor’s user name. I’m so accustomed to using the @warrenparsons form everywhere, I was a little surprised to see it break on output.

    Hope this helps.

  • Another note, this time on the Twitter field in your comments form.

    It’d be great if it would auto-strip the @ if entered with the visitor’s user name. I’m so accustomed to using the @warrenparsons form everywhere, I was a little surprised to see it break on output.

    Hope this helps.

  • Joe S

    All excellent points, thanks for that article!

    Although I don’t necesarily agree that sites must use different colors for visited links vs unvisited links. For some types of sites its obviously very helpful for users to be able to differentiate, but for others (including sites with few pages) it doesnt seem like its always necessary. I am no expert designer by any means, just my two cents.

    Amen on the point about auto-starting audio, that pisses me off so much.

  • Joe S

    All excellent points, thanks for that article!

    Although I don’t necesarily agree that sites must use different colors for visited links vs unvisited links. For some types of sites its obviously very helpful for users to be able to differentiate, but for others (including sites with few pages) it doesnt seem like its always necessary. I am no expert designer by any means, just my two cents.

    Amen on the point about auto-starting audio, that pisses me off so much.

  • I pulled down some of the texture – let me know if that’s better.

  • I pulled down some of the texture – let me know if that’s better.

  • J

    “Link colors MUST be a different color than ANY other text”

    Yep! On this site, that appears to be sometimes #4E1802 and sometimes #C9C9C9 and sometimes #B27F50. Sometimes bold, sometimes underlined, and sometimes bold and underlined. Except when it’s text-in-an-image, in which case the “text” can be dark gray or other colors. And images sometimes light up on mouseover to indicate that they’re links, except when they don’t. And visited links change color from “kind of brown” to “another kind of brown”, so I can’t tell what I’ve visited at all.

    Most web design today is, for better or worse, about looking cool. If we wanted to make it easy to find links, we’d stick with the default white/black/blue/purple, and nobody would have any questions. But everybody wants their page to look like a cardboard grocery bag, and that’s cool, but it’s odd to hear the same person complain about inconsistencies on the web.

    (P.S., what’s up with the checkbox-that-is-also-a-link?)

    Cheers!

  • J

    “Link colors MUST be a different color than ANY other text”

    Yep! On this site, that appears to be sometimes #4E1802 and sometimes #C9C9C9 and sometimes #B27F50. Sometimes bold, sometimes underlined, and sometimes bold and underlined. Except when it’s text-in-an-image, in which case the “text” can be dark gray or other colors. And images sometimes light up on mouseover to indicate that they’re links, except when they don’t. And visited links change color from “kind of brown” to “another kind of brown”, so I can’t tell what I’ve visited at all.

    Most web design today is, for better or worse, about looking cool. If we wanted to make it easy to find links, we’d stick with the default white/black/blue/purple, and nobody would have any questions. But everybody wants their page to look like a cardboard grocery bag, and that’s cool, but it’s odd to hear the same person complain about inconsistencies on the web.

    (P.S., what’s up with the checkbox-that-is-also-a-link?)

    Cheers!

  • LOL J – wow, tell me how you really feel?

    The link colors on this site are different – unless red and brown were made the same color and no one informed me. And if you notice, I don’t actually push the visited vs unvisited link color issue. It’s not one I’m particularly passionate about one way or another. So, yeah.

    You’re seriously criticizing image rollovers as links? Hah – I don’t even know how to respond to that one. I have to wonder if the J in your name stands for Jakob…

    The links in each separate area of the site ARE consistent. Main nav is white (and you can’t tell me its not clearly a navigation bar), body links are all the same color. I bold them for emphasis when appropriate, as one would expect. Sidebar links are all the same colors, weight and style. So perhaps your argument is that they have to be consistent across all elements of the page, even in clearly demarcated sections? If that’s what you’re trying to say, than I respectfully disagree.

    PS – the checkbox that’s also a link is something that improves usability, since native operating systems use this functionality.

    I love how the people who have the most negative things to say don’t provide any way for people to see what they’ve done. Classy.

    Usability doesn’t have to be one or the other – plain white backgrounds with blue/purple links or screw-it-all-unusable. There is a balance to be found – and in fact a balance MUST be found, especially if you do this stuff for a living. Clients will not accept the white/purple/blue/black, so you have to learn to find a balance on the most important issues.

  • LOL J – wow, tell me how you really feel?

    The link colors on this site are different – unless red and brown were made the same color and no one informed me. And if you notice, I don’t actually push the visited vs unvisited link color issue. It’s not one I’m particularly passionate about one way or another. So, yeah.

    You’re seriously criticizing image rollovers as links? Hah – I don’t even know how to respond to that one. I have to wonder if the J in your name stands for Jakob…

    The links in each separate area of the site ARE consistent. Main nav is white (and you can’t tell me its not clearly a navigation bar), body links are all the same color. I bold them for emphasis when appropriate, as one would expect. Sidebar links are all the same colors, weight and style. So perhaps your argument is that they have to be consistent across all elements of the page, even in clearly demarcated sections? If that’s what you’re trying to say, than I respectfully disagree.

    PS – the checkbox that’s also a link is something that improves usability, since native operating systems use this functionality.

    I love how the people who have the most negative things to say don’t provide any way for people to see what they’ve done. Classy.

    Usability doesn’t have to be one or the other – plain white backgrounds with blue/purple links or screw-it-all-unusable. There is a balance to be found – and in fact a balance MUST be found, especially if you do this stuff for a living. Clients will not accept the white/purple/blue/black, so you have to learn to find a balance on the most important issues.

  • Absolutely golden information. I’m a developer.

  • Absolutely golden information. I’m a developer.

  • Web Usability Blunders That Still Piss Me Off: Comments http://tinyurl.com/7egyy9

  • I have mentioned a time or two before how awesome you are, yes? Great list, and it is something I intend to make FULL use of in my ongoing “Intro to HTML and Web Design” classes. All credit is yours, of course –your writing is second to none.

  • I have mentioned a time or two before how awesome you are, yes? Great list, and it is something I intend to make FULL use of in my ongoing “Intro to HTML and Web Design” classes. All credit is yours, of course –your writing is second to none.

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  • mmmm

    the first macintoshes must have had terrible usability being all greyscale.

  • mmmm

    the first macintoshes must have had terrible usability being all greyscale.

  • Enough with the no-right-click javascript, people. http://tinyurl.com/7egyy9

  • Web Design Blunders from @snipeyhead http://tinyurl.com/7egyy9 amen.

  • Good article, I agree with all the points, especially the “stop playing audio” bit. This goes double for MySpace, they should be shot for letting users play music automatically on their profile! (For a long time, I’ve avoided visiting anyone’s MySpace profile for fear of this, although they have got better and now have a setting so that you don’t have to hear other people’s profile music, even if they’ve set theirs to auto-play.)

    Checkboxes as links, I’m not sure what you meant by “native operating systems use this functionality”, however I will say that I’m anal about using label tags so that people don’t have to click on the checkbox/radio button (which is a small area to try to target if you don’t have precise motor coordination), but can click on the text next to it instead.

    And while I’m on the topic of forms, insane tab ordering is a peeve of mine, I go to great lengths to ensure that when people tab through my forms, they get a predictable experience. I also go to some lengths to set up access keys if I can, too, although I consider the tab ordering to be a higher priority.

    Comments welcome. 🙂

    Chris Jester-Young’s last blog post..Answer by Chris Jester-Young for Any way to further optimize Java reflective method invocation ?

    • Hi Chris! Yeah, I feel the same way about MySpace. Unfortunately, my company is likely going to start making me develop apps for MySpace in addition to the FB apps I currently develop. Ugh.

      What I meant by “native operating systems use this functionality” is that if you click on the text next to a checkbox in an application (as opposed to a website), it checks/unchecks the box – so adding that functionality to a website is not something that makes it less usable, it makes it more usable, contrary to the ramblings of our lovely commenter above. 😀

      I agree – crazy tab numbering is really aggravating. And so is the auto-advance to the next form field javascript. Its super-helpful on stuff like phone numbers and SS#s, but since its not standard, I never know whether its going to advance me automatically or not. I wish they would just make that a standard feature (impossible, I know) so I’d know what to expect one way or another. If you’re not expecting it, and it advances AND you tab, you’ve skipped a box, and it sometimes fights with you to go back. Meh.

  • Good article, I agree with all the points, especially the “stop playing audio” bit. This goes double for MySpace, they should be shot for letting users play music automatically on their profile! (For a long time, I’ve avoided visiting anyone’s MySpace profile for fear of this, although they have got better and now have a setting so that you don’t have to hear other people’s profile music, even if they’ve set theirs to auto-play.)

    Checkboxes as links, I’m not sure what you meant by “native operating systems use this functionality”, however I will say that I’m anal about using label tags so that people don’t have to click on the checkbox/radio button (which is a small area to try to target if you don’t have precise motor coordination), but can click on the text next to it instead.

    And while I’m on the topic of forms, insane tab ordering is a peeve of mine, I go to great lengths to ensure that when people tab through my forms, they get a predictable experience. I also go to some lengths to set up access keys if I can, too, although I consider the tab ordering to be a higher priority.

    Comments welcome. 🙂

    Chris Jester-Young’s last blog post..Answer by Chris Jester-Young for Any way to further optimize Java reflective method invocation ?

    • Hi Chris! Yeah, I feel the same way about MySpace. Unfortunately, my company is likely going to start making me develop apps for MySpace in addition to the FB apps I currently develop. Ugh.

      What I meant by “native operating systems use this functionality” is that if you click on the text next to a checkbox in an application (as opposed to a website), it checks/unchecks the box – so adding that functionality to a website is not something that makes it less usable, it makes it more usable, contrary to the ramblings of our lovely commenter above. 😀

      I agree – crazy tab numbering is really aggravating. And so is the auto-advance to the next form field javascript. Its super-helpful on stuff like phone numbers and SS#s, but since its not standard, I never know whether its going to advance me automatically or not. I wish they would just make that a standard feature (impossible, I know) so I’d know what to expect one way or another. If you’re not expecting it, and it advances AND you tab, you’ve skipped a box, and it sometimes fights with you to go back. Meh.

  • Jack Stitt

    For what it is worth, I too have a hard time seeing the thin text on a textured background. I run at a pretty high resolution and use a laptop to boot, so it’s pretty hard to read.

    Overall, I agree with most your complaints. Especially with regard to audio…if a site has anything that makes noise without my ability to turn it off, I immediately close it (that includes “cutesy” rollover navigation noises.

    An annoyance I have is with fixed-width designs. I’ve spent the better half of the past six months tinkering around with many designs, both fluid and fixed-width and have found that most of my users (around 20 or so on this floor) tend to prefer the fluid layout. That said, I notice that *most* major web sites have settled on a fixed width of roughtly 950-960 pixels, as you have. At least yours is centered. I really hate the look of fixed-width left-oriented designs.

  • Jack Stitt

    For what it is worth, I too have a hard time seeing the thin text on a textured background. I run at a pretty high resolution and use a laptop to boot, so it’s pretty hard to read.

    Overall, I agree with most your complaints. Especially with regard to audio…if a site has anything that makes noise without my ability to turn it off, I immediately close it (that includes “cutesy” rollover navigation noises.

    An annoyance I have is with fixed-width designs. I’ve spent the better half of the past six months tinkering around with many designs, both fluid and fixed-width and have found that most of my users (around 20 or so on this floor) tend to prefer the fluid layout. That said, I notice that *most* major web sites have settled on a fixed width of roughtly 950-960 pixels, as you have. At least yours is centered. I really hate the look of fixed-width left-oriented designs.

  • Thanks for your comments, Jack. Fluid vs fixed width layout is more of a design preference than a usability issue though. I myself don’t like fluid width sites at all, and much prefer fixed width (for browsing I mean, not developing.)

  • Thanks for your comments, Jack. Fluid vs fixed width layout is more of a design preference than a usability issue though. I myself don’t like fluid width sites at all, and much prefer fixed width (for browsing I mean, not developing.)

  • Great list.

    I’ll add a small super webnerd aside. A form reset button is still needed if there are radio button elements and you would have preferred not to click one at all. Unless there is an extra radio button in the set that says ‘none of the above’ a reset button lets you blank out those fields.

    So we may live with reset button yet but we better see some damn radio buttons on that form 😉

    And for the love of dog don’t add a cancel button that looks anything like the submit button. Make the cancel option a link or something totally different. I’m looking at you americanairlines.com

    • Hi Ted – thanks for commenting 🙂

      “A form reset button is still needed if there are radio button elements and you would have preferred not to click one at all. Unless there is an extra radio button in the set that says ‘none of the above’ a reset button lets you blank out those fields.”

      Don’t you think a better plan would be to always use a “none of the above” radio button then? I’d be pretty pissed if I had to clear my entire form just because I accidentally clicked a radio button. 🙂 (And I agree with you completely, by the way. Radio buttons are poorly handled by so many sites.)

  • Great list.

    I’ll add a small super webnerd aside. A form reset button is still needed if there are radio button elements and you would have preferred not to click one at all. Unless there is an extra radio button in the set that says ‘none of the above’ a reset button lets you blank out those fields.

    So we may live with reset button yet but we better see some damn radio buttons on that form 😉

    And for the love of dog don’t add a cancel button that looks anything like the submit button. Make the cancel option a link or something totally different. I’m looking at you americanairlines.com

    • Hi Ted – thanks for commenting 🙂

      “A form reset button is still needed if there are radio button elements and you would have preferred not to click one at all. Unless there is an extra radio button in the set that says ‘none of the above’ a reset button lets you blank out those fields.”

      Don’t you think a better plan would be to always use a “none of the above” radio button then? I’d be pretty pissed if I had to clear my entire form just because I accidentally clicked a radio button. 🙂 (And I agree with you completely, by the way. Radio buttons are poorly handled by so many sites.)

  • Web Usability Blunders That Still Piss Me Off http://bit.ly/uLiCF

  • Great list of website usability blunders: http://bit.ly/uLiCF

  • Pingback: [Link] Greseli de utilizabilitate frecvente si enervante | Interfeţe Web()

  • maryusyk

    Nice! Thanks