I wish I could say that I live a balanced life. That I spend as much time going on walks, reading books, meditating, stretching, and cooking healthy meals, as I do on the Internet. But that fantasy of myself is alive only in my head… In reality, I spend most of my day looking at screens. And I am very good at it. As a millennial with parents who brought a computer into our house at a young age, I am unapologetically very good at surfing the web. I switch from one screen to another and have three different browsers that I use for different tasks. Whether I’m on my phone or my computer I’ve got multiple tabs and windows working simultaneously to deliver all the content my heart could desire.
Now that I have joined the Modsnap team as a project manager, I am learning ins-and-outs from the experts. While I grew up watching websites change from one page sites about a single topic to complex and beautifully designed pages with seamless user experiences, there are still sites I encounter that make me cringe. With so much advanced and powerful technology at our disposal, why do so many websites get it wrong?!
So what separates the good from the bad? Based on my daily experiences, I’ve compiled a list of personal peeves that turn me off of a website even if the site has all the information I’m looking for.
The Wall of Text
Obviously, a website should tell a visitor why they’re there. Content is key. A wall of text, however, is the ultimate turn off. Unless I am reading an article, my brain will go idle when I visit a site and am met by just so. much. text. It is a tricky balance for content writers to provide enough information to get the point across without bombarding a visitor with an “about us” essay.
That’s not to say a website can’t be thorough with the information they provide to visitors. Sometimes every word on the page is necessary. How the text is displayed, however, can make all the difference. Breaking up the information with photos, icons and headers can mean the difference between a website I immediately leave and one I spend time exploring.
Images aren’t always the saving grace of a website. There have been many times I visit a site and wonder if I finally need glasses, if I’ve been staring at a screen too much, or if someone just uploaded a poor quality image to the website I’m looking at.
Every time I see a blurry photo on a site I can’t help but wonder, why? I question if the person designing the site bothered to look at the page. Whether it is fair or not, a blurry image makes me doubt the credibility and legitimacy of the site. I wonder, “if the site owner doesn’t care how this looks, why should I care about it at all?”
I know the struggle of finding high quality images. I’ve even resorted to putting a low res screenshot on a page when I got desperate enough. But I know better. If a high quality image isn’t available, change the design or find a different image. I’d rather see a second-choice image than get a blurred out version of the first option.
Lost and Confused
An over-designed site that is not kept up to date leaves me asking “Where am I?” Even as someone with a personal aesthetic of “more is more,” I understand that on the web, I’ve gotta draw the line somewhere. For all of the beauty and technology that the Internet offers, it is important not to get lost in the trappings of flashy design that ultimately hinders user experience.
When a website tries to do it all, the end result is often a muddied message that doesn’t serve the client or the target audience. An overly complicated menu makes things trickier to find, and too much information leads to a confusing site structure that is hard to navigate.
On top of that, a complicated design means there are more elements to maintain and more opportunities for the site to break. All of a sudden buttons redirect back to the page you were just visiting and CTAs become dead ends. Visitors are left wondering if the site is poorly designed or just broken, and leave with their mission unfulfilled. Continued maintenance once the site is up and running can help prevent dead links, while a clear design from the get-go means a clear and successful user journey.
A Smart Phone Needs a Smart Site
Bad responsiveness on a website might be the worst offender of them all. At least half of my time on the Internet is spent on my phone rather than on a computer. If a website isn’t optimized to work on a smaller screen, I get frustrated and I bail.
Fortunately, I see this problem less and less. Because Internet usage on cell phones is on the rise, most designers consider mobile use first when building websites. However, this isn’t always the case so it is good to check in with your designer to make sure that they are taking this approach.
Content is Key
In all of these instances, the issues come down to content: What you choose to share and how you chose to share it. The information you want to relay and who you want to relay it to is crucial in organizing and designing your website. What feels frustrating about these issues is also part of the solution: They are all avoidable or relatively easy to fix!
If your website is in need of a revamp, contact us to see how we can help.