Given the difficulty of acquiring new visitors, you might think that all the webmasters of the world would do everything in their power to provide a delightful user experience and ultimately retain each hard-won customer, but we all know that there are a number of unpleasant and off-putting bad habits that seem to crop up time and time again. Let’s take a look at some of the most common offenders making users leave in frustration…
1. The Website is Too Slow
In a world where almost everybody has a super-powered smartphone in their pocket, the Internet has become synonymous with instant gratification. A user who might be idly wondering about some half-remembered trivia can have the answer delivered to them via Google within a few seconds, and if they want to contact a friend in another country thousands of miles away, they can do so basically as quickly as they can type the Facebook or Whatsapp message.
Google have also stated that according to their research, more than half (53%) of mobile users will abandon a site that takes longer than three seconds to load. After six seconds, it’s almost a guarantee that they’ll look elsewhere. Of course, the functional needs of the majority of websites are not very complicated — the average e-commerce store or blog site really has no excuse for taking longer than a couple of seconds to load.
It’s remarkable to see in 2019, but many web designers still seem to treat the mobile version of a website almost as an afterthought. It’s still not uncommon to find a mobile site where items are misaligned, overlapping, formatted strangely or subject to some other oversight from the designer, all of which can signal to a visitor that your company doesn’t take the time to go over little details.
It’s worth remembering that catering for mobile users is not “serving a niche”, it’s now the most important part of the job. Statista reported that 52.2% of all Internet traffic happened on mobile phones in 2018 (up from 50.3% the previous year), proving that desktop browsing is actually now the less-used way to explore the web.
3. Autoplay Media
No discussion of irritating web design faux pas would be complete without mentioning autoplay media. It’s been the bane of web users since the early days of the Internet, but unlike status bar marquees and GIFs of CGI dancing babies it still hasn’t gone away.
There are ways to do it tastefully, but it’s so often misused that it certainly deserves a spot on our list. Whereas autoplayed MIDI music and Flash sites with audio were the scourge of the 1990s and early 2000s, the pox of today’s world is autoplay video. Many sites today will put a video playing next to the body text of an article or blog post — often this is entirely irrelevant to the content of the page, and if you close it before navigating to another page, it quickly reappears. Of course, this is highly distracting and often feels rather presumptuous (as though the website is saying, “hey, I know you clicked to read an article about digital design trends, but wouldn’t you prefer to watch this video of our glitzy charity gala?”)