Does your website contain some of the most annoying elements that continuously drive visitors away?

If you’re not sure, then there’s a good chance that it does. I want to help you change that though.

In this article I am going to make you aware of the most common website pet peeves, explain why they’re bad for your site and give you some guidance on how to fix or replace them.

Website Pet Peeves

Serious Issues or Just Annoyances?

Although a pet peeve is actually defined as a “minor annoyance” its affect on a website is often times far more serious.

Think of it like this…

You’re probably spending a lot of time, money or effort to get people to your website.

Would you want them to leave because of some outdated, broken, annoying or inconvenient element on your website?

Of course you wouldn’t.

Don’t let something that [usually] can be easily fixed have a negative influence on your website visitors.

Yes, most website pet peeves are technically minor annoyances, but all it takes is one annoyance or inconvenience to chase away what could have been a returning or prospective customer.


Common Website Pet Peeves That Chase Visitors Away

Everyone has their own pet peeves when it comes to browsing and using websites. Some of us tolerate these things, but many of us do not as we’re becoming less complacent with mediocrity and more impatient with poor experiences.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common website pet peeves that are preventing many websites from being effective.

Slow Load Times

Slow Website Load Time

I’m starting with this one because there’s nothing more frustrating in web browsing then hitting a slow loading website.

As our access to faster Internet speeds and browsing devices increases so do our levels of impatience with websites that take longer than a couple seconds to load.

You cannot afford to have a slow website these days. Even a few extra seconds of loading time can push visitors away, often times for good.

What You Should Do:
  • Run a speed test to get an idea of how slow your website is. Anything over 3-4 seconds is too slow.
  • Check your Google Analytics account (Behavior > Site Speed > Overview) to see where delays are happening
  • Talk to your website developer about optimizing your site’s code and server setup
  • Move your website to a professional website development company that builds efficient websites and proactively manages performance

 

Splash Pages

Bad Splash Page Example at http://www.hrubes.com/

If your goal is to achieve a 90%+ bounce rate, then make your visitors sit through a splash page / intro before seeing your site.

Splash pages used to be very popular. Thankfully they have died off as a web design trend over the past few years. Unfortunately many websites have not been updated yet and continue to use these annoying intros.

If your website still uses a splash intro, then get rid of it immediately. Your bounce rate will thank you.

What You Should Do:
  • Ask your website developer to remove the unnecessary splash page and just have users land on the homepage
  • Have your website rebuilt by a professional development company that has experience building user-friendly, mobile-friendly websites

 

Homepages That Still Use Flash

Bad Homepage Using Flash

Similar to using a splash page, homepages that use flash to load any navigational elements are going to kill your site’s traffic and engagement.

The worst offenders are the homepages that have long flash intros that load important navigation options forcing you to wait until everything has loaded before you can navigate the site.

If your website is guilty of this one, then you need to fire your web development company immediately and get this changed as soon as possible. Not only is flash not mobile-friendly, but it adds to page load time – something you can’t afford to see an increase in.

What You Should Do:
  • Have all Flash elements replaced with something mobile-friendly like jQuery
  • If your website developer tries to convince you that Flash is still ok, then find a new website development company immediately

 

Non-Mobile Friendly Websites

Non-Mobile Friendly Website Example

If your website is not mobile friendly at this point, then you have no one to blame but yourself.

Google has been very vocal about the importance of a website being mobile-friendly. Even if you haven’t followed these communications, then you surely have experienced, and have been frustrated by, websites that force you pinch, zoom and scroll left and right to view content on your mobile device.

If your website doesn’t provide a smooth, simple mobile experience, then your SEO and conversion rates are going to suffer.

What You Should Do:
  • Talk to your website developer about rebuilding your website to make it responsive and replacing all non-mobile friendly elements (e.g. Flash) with something that will work on mobile (e.g. jQuery)
  • Find a website development company that specializes in making effective, mobile-friendly websites

 

Music or Videos on Auto-Play

Website with Audio on Auto-Play

We love music and we especially love our fair share of videos – except when they start blaring out of our computer speakers or headphones.

In these situations, many of us – myself included – will often times close the browser window instead of just stopping the video or muting the audio. This is the reaction you want to avoid. Remember that many people browse the web at work and the last thing they want or need is a loud, obnoxious video or song blaring from their computer.

Simply opt to not auto-play your videos. As for music, get rid of it. It’s not creative or fun. No one likes it. Get rid of it.

What You Should Do:
  • Remove all music or audio files (especially from the homepage)
  • Change video or audio file settings to only play when the user opts for them to do so
  • If you absolutely must have an audio file playing (I’d love to know what your reason is), then at least make the mute or pause buttons very easy to find and use

 

Complex reCAPTCHA Forms

Impossible reCAPTCHA Form

If I can’t see or accurately complete the reCAPTCHA on your web form on the first attempt, then you lost me and most of your visitors as well.

I understand that you need to prevent spam. However, if your spam issues are so bad that you need to force me to decipher a blurry word, then you need to revisit what type of traffic you’re attracting and how poor your site’s server and security checks are setup.

You will see a drop in conversions on your web forms if your reCAPTCHAs are too difficult to complete. This is low-hanging fruit to improve your conversion rate. Go do it now.

What You Should Do:
  • Check your server logs and Analytics for abusive traffic that you may be better off blocking entirely
  • Use Google’s reCAPTCHA instead
  • If you’re on WordPress, then take advantage of Akismet from Automattic
  • Re-evaluate your marketing efforts to make sure that you’re driving relevant, legitimate traffic to your website

 

Reset Buttons on Forms

Contact Form Reset Button Example

Before you carelessly let a RESET button sit next to the SUBMIT button on your web forms, ask yourself this…

Who completes a form and then needs to entirely clear the whole thing?

They may need to change one or two entries, but no one needs to clear ALL of the fields they just filled out. If, in some use case that is unbeknownst to me, a RESET button provides utility, then please do not put it right next to the SUBMIT button.

What You Should Do:
  • Remove RESET buttons from your forms. They’re more frustrating than they are helpful
  • Use multi-step web forms so users focus on specific sections or fields at a time

 

Contact Information / Options

What Your AOL Email Address Says About You

Not everyone wants to fill out a web form so you need to make it easy for someone to contact you however they prefer.

Some of the most common mistakes I see are things like missing phone numbers, phone numbers not coded for mobile, non-branded emails (e.g. @aol.com), emails instead of web forms and missing address information.

These things can and will hurt your conversion rate as well as prevent your local business from ranking properly in local search results.

What You Should Do:
  • Make your phone number visible and clickable (on a mobile device)
  • Get a branded email account by using a service like Google Apps
  • Get your local business address on the site and be sure to mark them up with Schema
  • If you have multiple business locations, then create optimized pages for each location
  • If you must display your email address, for some reason, then be sure to setup Event tracking in Google Analytics to properly track conversions from those actions

 

Lazy Language Translation

Bad Website Translation Example

If you’re trying to get your website to appeal to international visitors, then take the extra time and effort to serve them properly translated content.

Free translation tools and plugins are convenient, but they are far from perfect and can often times translate content incorrectly. This often leads to international visitors getting frustrated or even offended from improperly translated content.

Don’t give me options to translate your content unless a native speaker has professionally translated that information.

What You Should Do:
  • Professionally translate each important page into the other languages you’re looking to display
  • Design your website and content to target the different International audiences you’re trying to attract

 

Multi-tiered Dropdown Menus

Complex dropdown menu example

Someone at some point thought it was a good idea to cram all of a website’s navigation links into a set of tiered dropdown menus. And as web design / development usually goes, many more people thought was also a good idea and copied that on their websites.

I hate that initial someone.

Websites that use multi-tiered, complex dropdown menus need to be fined. They provide one of the most frustrating experiences for users as just one tiny slip of the mouse can make you lose your place.

What You Should Do:
  • Take some time to actually plan out a smart sitemap that can be implemented intuitively on your website
  • Keep dropdown menus to 2 tiers (maximum)
  • Make sure your dropdown menus aren’t so long that they overlap important content or get off below the fold

Leave a comment

What is your biggest website pet peeve?

I’ve listed some of the most common website pet peeves, but there are certainly more. Let me what frustrates you the most in the COMMENTS BELOW.


Is Your Website Frustrating Visitors?

Don't Frustrate Your Website Visitors

Although this is more of a lighthearted article for me, the subject matter is actually very serious.

These elements can and will cripple your website’s performance.

The good news is that you can easily prevent them from doing so before it’s too late. My recommendation is to work on one of these things at a time. And for some of the larger issues (e.g. website that’s not mobile-friendly), consult with an experienced web development company.

If you want your website to generate business for you, then you need to give it the time, attention and investment that it needs to be effective. This includes looking at your website objectively to improve user experiences.

No more outdated website. No more losing valuable website visitors. Make these changes today (one at a time). Your visitors will thank you.

Looking for a professional web development company to help you with the more technical improvements to your website? We’d love to help.

SCHEDULE A CONSULTATION

.

Vinny La Barbera

I’ve been working in online marketing since 2000 and have helped thousands of companies improve their online presence and grow their business through better web / mobile design, development and online marketing.Learn more about me or follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn.

  • The reset button on the form has gotten me more than once. Who in their right mind thought that was a good idea?

    • It’s gotten me too, Mike. Many, many times. It’ll always be one of my top website pet peeves.

      Thanks for checking out the article!

  • Hey Vinny…Reading your post…am guessing I don’t do any of these…My website is pretty simple…But still in progress because I’m personally working on it and I’m not too good with coding…can you please check it out and give me some honest feedback? Would really appreciate your help. http://www.cre8positivelife.com

    • Some quick tips:

      – State / display what you do higher up on the page. It took me awhile to figure out exactly what you do and what the site was about

      – Personally, I’d kill the ads – at least for now. There are almost more ads than actual relevant, helpful content so the site comes off a bit spammy

      – Remove the big photo at the top of the page (at least on your inner pages). It’s a nice shot but it is not descriptive and it pushes all of the relevant content down the page.

      Start there and you should see some improvements. Make sure to log your changes in analytics so you can track and test variations if needed.

      Good luck!

  • Good points though. I have to share with my blogger friends:)

  • This is a fantastic list!! Even a few I haven’t thought of myself!

  • Vinny the Man always bringing amazing content! Keep up the good work!