The most hated website features

Everyone knows there are some cardinal sins when it comes to building a website. Pages that have a pop up for every link, or auto playing music that drowns out your personal music preferences are never going to be well received. And for those of you with an eye for aesthetics, comic sans is a guaranteed pet peeve. Businesses that don’t abide by the common guidance of general users are sure to lose custom and will undoubtedly scare people away from ever visiting their site again, and even if your site is more focussed on showcasing your work or attracting clients, knowing what the general public hate is a vital tool to have in your digital arsenal.

It’s no secret that pop up advertising has been the scourge of the Internet for a long time. The countless early 2000s references to pop ups in the millennial digital age cemented the unpopular view of pop ups, but thanks to new research conducted by USIO it has been proven that pop up adverts are indeed the most hated website feature around. In a recent survey over 1300 people were asked what bugs them most about websites and pop up advertising took the top spot.

It turns out that pop ups have a reputation less favourable than that of Martin Shkreli, with 20 per cent of those asked saying that they were the most annoying website feature in existence. It appears that men hate pop ups even more than women with 23 per cent of males asked saying it was their number one online annoyance, while 19 per cent of women said it was theirs.

The issue with pop ups is that they completely interrupt the flow of your browsing. If you were in a cinema you wouldn’t want someone standing up in front of you just to tell you they’ve got a deal on film related merch. Pop ups are that guy, they’re never wanted, and never loved. Sometimes the information can be beneficial, but in all honesty who in this day and age does anything more than scrolling directly to the close button when they see a pop up?

Complicated navigation was the second web sin that people expressed their hatred toward. 15 per cent of people asked said that this was the online feature that bugged them the most, and once again even more men were troubled by this digital element with 17 per cent of males saying complicated navigation frustrated them. In contrast only 13 per cent of women hated complicated navigation most.

Clarity of navigation is vital in so many ways because a site needs to operate in a logical way if people are to achieve what they want on a site. With recent research indicating that people’s attention spans are shorter than ever, there is no way that most site visitors will trawl through pages of rubbish to find the gold that they’re looking for. Websites have to think about what they’re offering and find a way to get people there as quickly as possible. Convoluted navigation just isn’t cool.

The second most unpopular website feature for women, being more hated than complicated navigation, was sites having no contact information. 15 per cent of female respondents said that this bugged them, while 12 per cent of men said that it wound them up. Overall 14 per cent of people said that sites that lacked contact information were a pain. If a key aspect of a website is something that requires contact then it’s entirely understandable why a lack of information about this would drive people to madness. Adding an email isn’t tough, so make sure you include something online.

One trend of digital hatred that emerged was toward low quality site features. A significant amount of those asked said they were frustrated by broken pages, unorganised content, low quality images, non-clickable calls-to-action, lack of information, and bad font selections. All of these are completely understandable complaints as anything low quality warrants complaint.

Sites that don’t maintain themselves or even opt in for design that would be more akin to the original Tron film without aiming to be digitally vintage aren’t going to get the visitors they’re looking for, and those who do stumble across their virtual home aren’t going to stay for long. Equally, if you’re attempting to sell a product in comic sans that is anything other than a retro-chic 80s tribute of some sort it’s unlikely to do well. People want to know the sites they visit are contemporary because a site that cares about its quality will most likely be one that will care more about their visitors.

No site will ever be perfect and if you browse to the corners of any page you’re sure to find some form of imperfection, but it’s easy to tell when a brand cares about their identity, and while it may not always be entirely representative, first impressions matter. If you browse to a dilapidated site that bombards you with pop ups and auto playing videos it’s unlikely you’ll stay long. The information is invaluable to website designers and owners, and it’s always useful for consumers because it’s even easier to tell the owners of sites you love just why they should change aspects of their online presence if you have statistics to back you up.

Digital existence is vital for any business in the modern age and that means that a website is something to develop and take pride in. Don’t simply let it be a text box with the bare basics, make sure it’s a complete profile of your brand in the most succinct and aesthetically pleasing way. Your visitors will love you for it.

Robert Elding, Managing Director at USIO