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Five web design patterns that I hate

I love the web, and I love web design. A well designed website, in my opinion, should be functional, beautiful, and quick. Web design has generally improved with time, but there have been some advancements in web technologies that have only decreased the quality of web design. So, just to rant a little bit, I’m going to talk about five web design patterns that I hate.

5. Splash screens
Why do these exist? I can’t think of a single website that actually benefits from having a splash screen. In case you don’t know, a splash screen is just a page saying “welcome to this site!” with an enter link that usually takes you to what should be the index. On some particularly obnoxious sites, the splash screen will be some huge Flash monstrosity that takes longer to load than the rest of the site. There is simply no reason to have a splash screen.

4. Unnecessary Flash and Javascript
This is a common mistake made by big websites. In their mission to make their website as elegant as possible, they break the cardinal rule of web design: make the site work quickly. Nothing really lags for me, but you’re probably not designing for people like me. You’re probably designing for the average person that doesn’t have an incredible computer with a lightning-fast internet connection. Filling your website with Flash and Javascript just to pretty it up will do nothing but slow the site down and cause many frustrated visitors.

3. Sound
There should never be sound on your website unless the visitor makes an overt decision to hear sound, or it’s in a place where it’s obviously expected (such as a game). My favourite combination here is when bad webdesigners combine #5 and #3 together — a splash screen with music! So now you can have the inconvenience of a) going through an extra page for no reason, b) having everyone within earshot hear that you’ve gone through an extra page for no reason, and c) downloading a song that you didn’t want to listen to in the first place. If this is your idea of a great website, please set fire to your computer.

2. In-line advertisements
I know you need money, but is it really necessary to have every other word on your website link to some advertisement? Luckily, it seems that only really atrocious websites do this, but it always baffled me. There’s no quicker way to ruin the enjoyment in your site then by making every link suspicious. You never know whether a link is going to be an ad or a real page — the easiest way to find out, by hovering your cursor over the link to check the target URL, will just make the ad appear if there is one. Your visitors end up never clicking anything because they’ll just assume that everything is an ad. Your content becomes a jumbled mess that no one will ever want to read.

1. Sprawling web communities
Oh, dear. Just to be clear, I’ll explain: by “sprawling web community”, I mean those websites that have a forum. And on that forum, you might find that 10% of the users actually know what website they’re on. Yeah, that kind of forum. These are ridiculously common, which is understandable. People run out of material to talk about, so they just start talking about other things, which leads to everyone getting to know each other, which leads to everyone hating newbies, which leads to some weird internet subculture. It’s cool if you’re a member of the forum, but it’s extremely annoying to be the one in charge of the forum. All you want is a forum for fans of your site, but it seems like half the people on your forum aren’t fans anymore, if they ever were to begin with.

This one is a bit harder to prevent, and isn’t really an aspect of web design at all. It’s more dependent on your website’s target audience. If your audience includes the kinds of people who would be likely to hang around forums all day… well, you’re pretty much screwed. You’re going to have to fight for your community to stop it from breaking away. Trust me: I can think of several websites off the top of my head that no longer have anything to do with what they were originally about. This was all caused by the forum growing and devouring all the real content, then becoming a giant orgy of self-reference (like every forum). I don’t want to name any sites specifically, in the interest of sparing people’s feelings.

Personally, I think forum sprawl is a serious threat to a lot of websites. And it’s one people will often ignore until it’s too late. It’s not strictly part of web design, but it’s still something very important to the website, and the kind of thing that the webmaster should keep in mind when they make their plans.

Anyway, now I’m done whining about stuff. It’s good to put something negative here every once in a while, since I’m usually pretty positive. Maybe next time I’ll make a post about my favourite web design patterns.

Written by Likes to Ramble

1 Comment

  1. Ryan Lalonde · October 23, 2009

    I can agree with you for pretty much all of this but definitely splash screens and in-line advertisements. Those are the most annoying things ever and the worst sites have loads of em.

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