A long long time ago in an internet far far away, websites were blocky messes with no real design to drive the user around the site. As time moved forward, website designs became smooth and were able to intuitively guide the user around making for great user experiences. At some point, someone somewhere decided that they had enough and started a trend that would stop all users from having a great experience and we would instead go back to the stone age where no one was having a good time.

Design (UI) and User Experience (UX) often go hand in hand. As the designers molds the website, they are able to see how the website will flow and that the experience the user will have will be intuitive. Both are keys that lead users on your website to stick around longer, sign up, or even contribute. A bad design, the user might get annoyed and leave after the user gets the information they want. However, a bad experience can lead the user away, never to return.

Here are 3 major UX issues the internet is abundant with right now:

1. Blocking Modals

Imagine going to a baseball game for the first time, you arrive at your seats just in time for the game to start. You sit down to watch and instead of watching the first pitch, some guy walks down and stands in front of you asking if you want to sign up for a brand new newsletter, that contains all sorts of content. Great, right? No. No one would want that; people would stop showing up - especially if it happens every time you go - even if you are already signed up for it the first time.

Websites have adopted something quite similar. You’ll find an interesting article, click the link for and before you can even make it to the first paragraph, and up pops a large advertisement that blocks the entire page. This is not only a disservice to the user, but also the writer. The user wants the information, the writer wants to give you good and valuable information, but the website wants you to do something else entirely. Good chance the user will also immediately leave and be slightly annoyed, which is the exact opposite of what you want from your website.

This unfortunate trend has hit even the biggest companies. Local news, nutritional, and even sports websites have fallen into this trap. The most notable of these are the Newsletter Modals taking over websites like a plague. Now, newsletters are great for building your business/website, they keep people in the loop and create a community. However, there are better ways to get people to sign up for yours.

A small banner across the bottom of the page or a small sidebar block are a great way of saying “Hey! We have a newsletter, you can sign up over here while continuing to enjoy our content!” Only thing you have to remember is that it doesn’t obstruct the user from getting the content that you have put your time and effort into.

Earnest's Signup Form

2. Autoplaying Media

Let’s say you get on a plane and have the intention of falling asleep immediately. The plane isn’t fully packed and you end up in a row all by yourself. You pack your things in the overhead compartment, sit down, get comfortable, close your eyes when all of the sudden you hear:

 “SHOT THROUGH THE HEART, AND YOU’RE TO BLAME, DARLIN’, YOU GIVE LOVE A BAD NAME”

Bon Jovi’s hit single “You Give Love A Bad Name” is now blaring in the plane and you cannot sleep. This could be your favorite song in the world, but at the moment, you were hoping for peace and quiet. You don’t want to be an annoyance (like the person blaring the music) so you get up and hunt through the plane to find the guy who forgot his airpods.

This is a lot like any website that starts loading any type of audio media without alerting the unsuspecting user. They have to hunt through the page to silence/pause the video or mute the tab. Either way, they went from enjoying your content to becoming annoyed that they have to stop something they were unaware of.

Very few times should a video/audio load automatically on a website. Websites such as YouTube or Vimeo should auto play videos, because you know that when you click on a thumbnail of a video, you are going to a page that will have audio and video. Often video related to an article are included, which is great, but only as long as the user knows that this video will be accompanying the information they are looking for.

There are a few easy ways to alleviate this:

  1. Find video plugins/hosting sites like youtube that don’t autoplay video that are embedded/included
  2. Add a simple ‘(video)’ to the end of the article name so your visitor knows what they’re getting into. EX: “Man wins the lotto, you’ll never guess what the first candy bar he purchased was (video)”

3. Poorly Optimized Mobile Pages

You are heading on vacation and you have to pack your entire dresser and closet into luggage. You only have one bag, but need to pack for 10 days of fun in the sun on the beach and nights out on the town. This means many shirts, pants, shorts, swimsuits and whatever else your personal style demands. While hanging in the closet or in drawers these clothes take up a ton of space, but they are easy to differentiate and find, they have their place. When you pack, most people pack everything the same into one area so when you get to your destination you know where each type of clothing is. Also, the clothes that once took up a bunch of closet space as well as drawer space is now neatly packed into one piece of luggage.

The same should be said of your website. Your clothing is your content and the luggage/closet is your phone/monitor. Each piece needs to neatly fit so nothing gets lost. It can be easily unpacked (read) by the user and expanded back into the new closet that the clothes will be packed into on your vacation.

Websites now don’t need their own mobile version, instead they shrink or morph to display their content across any and all devices. This practice, called Responsive Design [need : link to responsive design article] , enables you to spend your time making content for your site instead of worrying about how it will look on phones and tablets.

There are 3 User Experience issues that make the web worse for everyone, but can be easily avoided using modern web and interface design trends and techniques. Don’t send your visitors running in fear, and they’ll stick around long enough to enjoy all that tasty content that you’ve worked so hard to put together.

About Kyle Keegan

Front End Developer

Is a Black Magic spell from final fantasy that usually does poison-elemental damage as well as inflicts the Poison status effect upon the enemy. I much prefer Demi.