We’re all browsing the web. A lot. Like, all. the. time. For absolutely anything. You forget the name of that singer from that band you liked back in high school, and now it’s a ‘stop-everything-and-google’ emergency because you just have to know. Or you wake up in the middle of the night and wonder who decided that six was the perfect number for servings of chicken nuggets. Or you’re desperate to know if wrapping your banana stalks with Glad Wrap actually stops them from ripening too fast? (the answer to that last one is no, no and no – just buy greener bananas, ok?). So, what’s all this random banter got to to do with annoying web design? Lots. Let me explain.
Because we all visit a lot of websites, we get pretty good at the whole process of googling, clicking through on a search result and navigating the website we get to (yes, I know Google is actually giving searchers the answers without needing to click through making a lot of website owners mad, but that’s a topic for another day).
So, because you’ve visited like a gazillion websites you have a pretty good idea of website design you like, and website design that makes you want to literally headbutt the screen, but you don’t because you’re in public and you’re a normie with a fierce determination to hide your weirdness from other people.
Here’s our three main pet peeves that are common with badly-designed websites.
1 – It’s not mobile friendly
We’ll start with an obvious one. Yeh, sure, a few years ago we were more forgiving, but everyone’s had plenty of time to update their websites to be mobile friendly (also known as responsive design, because it responds to different screen sizes by reformatting or resizing the text and images on the web page).
So, if you hit a website that was built back in the early 2000s, and hasn’t been touched since, and you’re doing this weird three-fingered sideways scroll to read the content, you know the level of frustration I’m talking about.
And it’s not just about resizing content, it’s also about making things usable on a small screen, especially things you have to interact with, like forms or buttons. It’s good if text and controls can be proportionately larger on small screens to make it more readable, more usable.
By the way, if you’re a website owner and you are guilty, don’t sweat it. We’re currently running a mobile-unfriendly amnesty program – contact us privately and we’ll get you sorted so future visitors won’t rage at your website, and curse you with the fleas of a thousand possums.
2 – It has annoying pop-ups or ads
But it’s not just EU websites guilty of annoying pop-ups. New Zealand websites can be just as bad. “Sign up to my email list!” (hey, we only just met, chill), special offers, coupons etc etc. It seems websites are just way too thirsty to get your details, or show you an ad, instead of the content you came for, or they’ll put it behind a gate.
And even though web designers should be well familiar with good content layout and user-friendly user interfaces (UI), it feels like websites in general are getting worse at making it simple for visitors to achieve their goal, to get the answer to their question, the information they came for, instead having to perform a complicated series of clicks, scrolls and page turning that, in some cases, will just force them back to Google in frustration.
3 – It uses edgy design that breaks standard conventions
We get it. You think website design, you think it has to be arty. It has to be unique. It has to stand out like a work of art with some serious wow factor. It’s a fruit salad of colours, light text on dark backgrounds, navigation menus in hard-to-find places and resource-hungry animation that keeps the user waiting in suspense (it’s possible they’ve already left at this point…).
Now, there’s nothing wrong with eye-pleasing web design. In fact, we’re all for good web design with stuff like a coordinated colour palette, clean lines, comfortable white space and modern fonts (and you can get a smart looking website for the very cheap price of just $299!) but some guidelines for website design, navigation and content structure should be observed in the interests of user friendliness (that’s for you, the website visitor).
Let’s use the example of a car. Every car maker wants to win you over with eye-catching style; but what if they decided to put door handles underneath the car or the dashboard behind the driver? It’s just not going to work, and this is because standard conventions in design make life easier for everyone, whether it’s operating a car or navigating a website.
So, while some might think it’s boring to always have the navigation menu along the top, or show a hamburger menu icon for mobile users, it’s done for the greater good of website visitors, and for anyone experienced in SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) you’ll know that looking after your visitors, keeping them happy and giving them the content they want, will payback to the website owner by way of better rankings in the Google search results and increases in organic traffic.
If you’re a website owner, make sure you balance out your design goals with the practical needs of your visitors, and feel free to get in touch with us as we have information design qualifications to provide you with expert advice on how you should plan out your site.
Good website design doesn’t have to be expensive
It’s really not that hard to build a website which looks good and is functional (read: stress free!) for visitors. We’ve been designing and constructing websites for over 10 years now, and are providers of the most affordable websites in NZ, with modern website packages that start from just $299 and cheap website hosting for less than $8/mo.
Sadly, we know that badly designed websites will continue to frustrate us regular internet browsers for years to come, but we’re confident that sites put together with consideration for visitors will be rewarded, and we’re happy to continue contributing to a better internet with well designed and affordable website packages for NZ businesses — big or small.