Even as an intern I know these things make your site suck. They are things I come across all too frequently and drive me crazy to the point where I want to either delete the site from the existence or go in and fix the issue myself. Unfortunately, most of the time, I cannot do either of those things. What I can do is announce the problems to the world and hope that those responsible listen and do something about it.
First, and this by far is the one that annoys me most, auto play audio.
Sadly many sites still have auto play videos or music, even John Stewart clips play automatically when you go to his site. This doesn’t just make your site suck, it makes it an annoyance, a nuisance, something that your guest will want gone like month old milk and it annoys for multiple reasons:
- It interrupts whatever audio I already have going, this could be background music, or a TV show but whatever it is. YOUR SITE is ruining it for me.
- It always happens when I’m opening multiple pages. Often I am searching for something and have opened multiple tabs, one of them will be making the unwanted sound and I have to search through each trying to find the culprit, then I have to try and find where the tiny pause button is. Usually I give up and just start closing tabs until the irritant goes away.
- The volume is never set to the right level; if I am ever wearing headphones the audio will usually cause me to go temporarily deaf, as your site has just blown out my eardrums. That always makes me want to see more, especially because I can’t hear anymore.
- Slows the website down, as will be mentioned later, slowing down your site for any reason does not provide a positive user experience, and negative experiences do not produce any of the following:
- Word of mouth promotion
- Returning traffic
- Traffic referrals
- Paying customers
Second, this is something only experienced Internet users will understand, not customising/modifying your free template.
This makes your site suck because you lose a lot of your uniqueness. Check out http://theadventuresofdoboy.com/ for example, although I enjoy reading the content on this site and find it to be a humorous, every time I go to the site the basic thesis layout just screams out at me. The owner needs to spread the uniqueness of his writing over to his display, make a custom banner, play around with the menu links and make it represent himself properly.
All too frequently I will come across a site that looks identical to one of the many frequently used free templates, be it for a WordPress site, or any of the other platforms, it shows a lack of effort, a lack of care and if you don’t care about your site, why should I? I will cut the site above a break though, his stuff makes me laugh and the site is only a couple months old, he has time to edit while it’s still new.
Third, can happen to the best of us, Improper sizing of images/video.
This occurs for multiple reasons, sometimes you just can’t seem to get it to fit right or you’ve modified to site layout and forgot to check your legacy pages to make sure everything fits nicely. Our own SEJ has fallen victim to it, and thus unfortunately, I must say even SEJ sucks: but they are cool because they allowed me to put up a post that said they sucked :)
This causes two main problems,
- Aesthetics, it just doesn’t look nice to start, the whole design of a website is meant to allow easy flow so nothing is offensive to the eyes. This breaks the page and looks bad.
- In this case part of the video is buried behind the side links, usually the image would cover over the sidebar text and make it difficult to read/follow links. Either way is bad and I wouldn’t say either is better than the other, they both need to go away, so make sure you size your stuff properly or your site will suck :P
Fourth, something everyone who knows website will stress, Browser Capability or lack thereof.
It’s thankfully becoming harder to find sites that don’t work across all web browsers equally, be it Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, or even the dreaded Internet Explorer. However there is another side to this, which is the not so new, mobile phone markets, with their touch screens and small dimensions, the traditional hover over drop down menus no longer work properly along with a host of other features. I admit my own site has fallen victim to it, www.medievalaccommodation.com when originally created I did ensure it worked across the multiple browses, but unfortunately it is not useable when accessed from the iPhone, and until I fix this a huge section of web users will think my site sucks so therefore it does.
Fifth, you’ll hear this one a lot, Flash sites.
There are so many reasons for this that I can’t even put them in order, here is my top 3 all equal in their suckiness:
- It is SLOW. Flash is renowned as a CPU hog and as such its site’s are unbelievably slow to navigate, here is one of the few I still visit and it is only to do some random gaming. A modern site should open almost instantly; if it takes even a second to load, especially between pages, the user will notice and will affect their experience negatively.
- It is the leading cause of Mac OSX crashes. Currently Mac users are between 5-10% of the worldwide market, and I will guarantee you, any customer who comes to your site and their computer crashes, will not be returning soon. Why would you risk that market share so that your designers can have some fun? And it’s not only Macs that crash, that’s just their leading cause, PC users get blue screened or frozen all the time from overtaxing their CPU, is it really worth it? Customers aren’t impressed by how complicated you design is, more the opposite.
- IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SEO. Everybody with any SEO experience will tell you that Flash sites are impossible because the search bots can’t crawl the text and so your site only shows up as the coding that it is. If you own a flash site, don’t expect to rank for more than your domain name on Google, and anyone who knows what they are doing could design something to outrank you without much effort.
Sixth, hardly needs elaboration, infrequent updates.
My example this time is one of my old webcomics: when I found the site, it was updated weekly and was my favourite read. For the last 5 years or so it has been lucky to update quarterly, if I didn’t enjoy the story so much I would have abandoned it years ago. Many sites fall victim to the same thing, if they don’t keep up to a semi reliable schedule they will lose their visitors. This doesn’t mean if you miss a post no one will check in anymore (though if you do miss a post you should explain why you missed it, people will understand). However, as a general rule, it does mean if you stop updating then people will stop visiting.
The key thing to remember when designing a website is that it doesn’t matter what you think, it doesn’t matter if you like the high tech flash programming or the exclusivity of only being able to read it properly on Opera. It’s what your consumers, your viewers, your customers think, they are the ones who decide if they like your website, so they are the ones that decide what makes it good and what makes it bad.
What else do you think makes a site suck?