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Virtue of the Small

How Not to Annoy Your Visitors

This is an article that I found relevant and possibly of interest to my clients (or future clients). Its information is based on actual survey results, though the survey may have been somewhat informal. It is reprinted here with the permission of the author.

Surfer Turnoffs

by Dennis Gaskill

If you've gone to the trouble of creating a web site, the last thing you want to do is alienate your visitors. To help you avoid doing just that, I have put together a comprehensive list of site turnoffs, as reported to me in a survey I conducted. Study this list carefully: it contains real feedback about the things that bug surfers the most.

In no particular order:

  • Large, slow-loading graphics or small, hard-to-see graphics.
  • Lack of thumbnails for picture galleries.
  • Too many graphics or not enough graphics. (Find an appropriate balance between design and content.
  • Cheap, amateurish (low-quality) graphics.
  • Too many animations.
  • Bad color combinations.
  • Not enough contrast between text and background.
  • Too much or too little white space, not enough paragraph breaks, text that runs edge to edge, etc.
  • Errors in grammar and spelling.
  • Abbreviations like "U" for you or "l8tr" for later.
  • Text too small or too large.
  • Cyber anything (cyberspace, cybershop, etc.).
  • Use of all capital letters.
  • The BLINK tag (Netscape still supports it).
  • Plugins required to view a page or hear a sound.
  • Comet cursor (tracks users, continually nags you on every page if you don't download it, slows pages down, etc.).
  • "Under Construction" signs and links that don't lead to content.
  • Horizontal scrollbars.
  • Automatic launching of music, especially when there's no way to turn it off.
  • Broken images and broken links.
  • Pages that don't fit in the frames.
  • Sites that trap links in their frames.
  • Frames.
  • Too many advertising banners.
  • Slow server and/or too lengthy a page.
  • Deception, dishonesty.
  • Incorrect and/or out-of-date information.
  • Egotism. Know-it-alls who know nothing or, if they do know a thing or three, the gloat don't float their boat.
  • Stolen material. Not giving credit to others where due.
  • Browser-crashing Java.
  • Telling someone what browser to use.
  • Poor site-navigation system.
  • Lack of updates.
  • E-mail addresses that don't work.
  • Webmasters who don't respond to e-mail.
  • Automatic pop-up windows, ads, and alert boxes.
  • Search engine cheaters.
  • Mean-spirited feel, badmouthing others, etc.
  • Trashed message boards, guestbooks, etc.
  • Profanity, off-color remarks.
  • Broadcasting your sexual preference, irrelevant sexual references.
  • Sites that are nothing but links -- no content or shallow content.
  • Lack of originality.
  • Scratch-and-sniff pages. (Just kidding!)

Respondents also mentioned slow shopping carts as a source of irritation. This often reflects a lack of understanding about how shopping carts work: that is, the extra data transfers between your computer and the server, the CGI programs they have to go through, the encryption process for safety, etc.

It's impossible to please everyone, but pick carefully which annoyances you choose to ignore. The popularity of your site is at stake.

Article copyright © 2000 by Dennis Gaskill and is reprinted here with permission. His site, Boogie Jack's Web Depot, features free graphics, HTML and graphics tutorials, sound effects, articles, contests, and humorous diversions.

(919) 929 - 8687 or (919) 929 - VOTS