Web Design, Development, & Hosting

10 Annoying Things Websites Do AKA 10 Things People Hate About Your Website


One thing I noticed as I was trying to organize this list is that ads came up a lot. There is a tasteful way to display advertising. We all know everyone needs to make a living and pay for their website to stay online and keep doing the job we like it to do. There is an etiquette to doing it well. Many sites do not. They seem to still get away with it but it does make you wonder if they would do better if they were smarter about it.

That being said, below is a break-down of all the things we think are offensive and annoying that websites do. Let us know if you agree with our list in the comment section below or if we missed anything that annoys you. Also, let us know if there's something we're doing that we need called out for ourselves!

10) Websites with teeny tiny font!

When I see websites with small fonts it isn't the end of the world because I can either squint or zoom in the web browser page. I also have very good eyesight. But, we do have much higher resolution screens now with much higher pixel density so there is no reason to use such small fonts. In fact, it's probably hurting you because you've been around the Internet and you know how easily you'll click away from a page if something offends you. Don't make your website font too small.

I also want to forgive this because I've been around since the beginning of the Internet and there are some timeless pages on the Internet that aren't getting updated any longer and they were made in a time where the font sizes they used were normal and adequate. But, if you're not one of those legacy pages then you don't have an excuse for using a tiny font. You're just losing traffic. Increase that font size! You don't have to go absurdly large. But if you're wondering if it's too small, it's probably too small. Bump it up. It's not going to kill you or your design, I promise. Would you rather have traffic or that tiny font?

9) Websites, especially professional, using excessive blatant stock image photography.

As someone that has put together a ridiculous amount of websites in his career this one just hits me. However, I've been a crucial part of a lot of start-ups and at the time of building their site they sometimes do not always have many assets so we are stretching to get their website to a place that looks good enough to go live.

But, do not leave it that way! Be constantly working to replace that stock imagery with custom imagery and you will immediately look a ton more credible. I've worked for a lot of web companies and they probably won't tell you this because at some point their team is probably getting exhausted and they are happy that everything is "good enough" but you should probably push to make it better as soon as you can. Don't just forget about it.

If you are determined to use some stock photography then try to use it sparingly and put your own spin on it and make it very oriented to the topic of a page you are targeting it. Think of how you use the Internet. You can tell right away when someone is using stock photography on their website so what makes you think you'd be immune to that same scrutiny when someone was looking at your website. If you spend good money or time developing it and you care about it all then put in the extra work to make it look good.

8) Websites with dead hyperlinks.

I almost didn't include this on the list because it's another one that I want to forgive because the Internet is always evolving and changing and the landscape of links isn't going to be the same from day to day. So, you can imagine over time you might not realize some of the pages you've linked to are disappearing. If you have thousands, hundreds, or even tens of pages to double check for dead links that can already be overwhelming. If you're like me, you're always thinking forwards, not backwards. You don't have time to keep checking if all your once working links are still working.

But, that doesn't mean it's pleasant for a user that's visiting your site to click a dead link. I'm trying to put myself in both scenarios here... and if I imagine myself as the visitor clicking around and trying to enjoy a website... well dead links are certainly going to be a turn off. You're paying to keep this site online. You don't want to give people reason to leave. I look at it as people are always looking for a reason to leave a site. It's hard to keep someones attention. It always has been and it's getting harder as the Internet gets bigger and the attention spans get smaller.

You could probably do yourself a favor by finding a tool to check your site or sites for broken links. I don't have any off the top of my head to recommend, but I'm sure they're out there.

7) Websites that use video ads (video advertising).

Look, we use ads. We love the Internet. We want everyone deserving to succeed and stay online. That's what makes the Internet such a fun place. But, holy crap, these video ads on some of these sites are out of control. Maybe they're making such good profit from it that they think they can't live without them... but wow sometimes they are so irritating I'll leave the page. Especially if I'm not on a very good computer or laptop at the moment. That can be a deal breaker. I won't even be able to scroll because this multimedia I didn't ask for nor have any interest in is determined to play until I can gain enough control to stop it. By then I am so totally disengaged with what I was here for I'm ready to close the browser tab.

As technology gets better it may be more permissible to have video ads as long as they are muted on page load. I'm sure advertisers won't like that as much though since they aren't blasting your ear holes with their "oh so good we paid for this" ad. But, for now there are still a lot of people on single and dual core machines that you will just cripple when they load your page all because of the ad you're serving.

This is not a new thing in web development. Back in the day it was the battle of screen resolutions. Webmasters and web designers wanted to make their layouts wider but we could see in the web stats that the rest of the world wasn't quite ready for that. We would be alienating a large percentage of our potential audience.

But, I don't think as much recognition gets made to the hardware that people are using. If someone is using old hardware a website can totally lock up their computer. If they aren't tech savvy that could leave the worst taste in their mouth. They will not be back to your website. I don't care if you say, "but who is using such old hardware blah blah blah." There are lots of people out there with the it's good enough for what I do mindset and they'll stick with that until the machine dies and then go to Walmart and buy the cheapest thing on the shelf.

I'm not saying don't push the limits of what your website can do. I think I'm just giving examples of what you should mindful of how much your cramming into your website and how demanding it will be for the devices of the world. Always have your target audience in the back of your mind.

6) JavaScript and jQuery items (usually ads) loading in after the page is loaded and moving content around.

I'm tempted to bump this one higher. When making this article I wrote down everything that came to mind and then looked around on the Internet for inspiration... you know, as one does. Make sure I didn't miss anything. I didn't see this one mentioned at all. It really bugs me.

I don't know if it isn't mentioned much because it's hard to put into words what is happening so it's not talked about or what but holy crap.

I'll explain it. So, what is happening is that websites need resources, like many things, in order to perform all their fancy tasks properly. So, they're loading in files in the background and as they get downloaded the browser will notice it and apply it as soon as it can. By the time they apply the whole page has mostly already loaded.

In a mild case, the information you were reading will bump down and you'll chase back to where you were reading. In a more annoying case, and probably the one that caused me to make this #6, is when you think you're about to click on something but then nope some asset loads in and bumps content down and you end up clicking (usually on an ad because that's probably all by design). That is very annoying and honestly probably against a lot of TOS but they get away with it.

JavaScript and jQuery work differently than HTML, CSS, and PHP. They get loaded last because they need the rest of the document to exist before they apply their effects. A lot of what JavaScript and jQuery are doing are based on elements they find in the page and so if HTML, CSS, and PHP haven't finished yet they will do undesirable things. That causes this "pop" effect they have. If there is a good combination of fast Internet and fast web server then it will be less noticeable.... But, really people should stop exploiting this. It's irritating as hell.

5) Click-bait Titles and Headlines with lengthy unrelated content. (Get to the point!)

People get away with this all the time so I don't know how to stop it. But, I just imagine their bounce rate is incredible. Just think when you ask Google a question and then you land on a website that you were expecting a "Yes" or "No" answer to but it has a whole story.

So, as someone that's been in the game for a long time I do get that you need to have some text on your page to get website rank. I also wonder sometimes if that even is such a good system... but regardless that is how it works.

But... wow... you don't have to be a complete twat about withholding the information. I wish I lived in a world where you could search a "yes" or "no" question and land on a page with a giant yes or no and then the words would follow. That isn't the universe we live in at the moment.

4) Can't find comments section because of too many ads.

This goes similarly with the last section! Have you found yourself reading something and wanting to comment? Then you, as any normal person would, scroll down to find the comments section... just to find ads? The ads just keep going sometimes. They will go as long as you scroll. I know this is a feature, but I hate it.

If you have a website that features comments just let your comment section shine. Do not make us search for it. We won't comment. We will leave no matter what a cool plugin or platform you're using for your comment system.

I think the worst part about the whole comment debacle is that a lot of these sites will have the ads exactly where comments would go so you will find yourself scrolling and scrolling and scrolling and scrolling only to find out there is probably no comment section. And that's the worst of all... because you've just read this article and you want to add your thoughts but now you've found out it's just an overly ad sponsored post to the point of no return. What is that? Why is that!? Who is clicking on those? If you have surfed that far down you probably aren't clicking on those. Okay maybe someone is... I don't know. You did cover a lot of surface area for your click.

3) Bad overall website navigation.

I put this high because other people put it high... but I had to think about it and I can't disagree. Bad navigation is going to immediately make me want to leave. I just don't think this is a problem a lot of sites are having. It's the first thing anyone and any webmaster work on. How to navigate this site. The hyperlink is as old as dirt. That's not true. I just said that so you'd think I'm young. Shit, I don't think that worked. I thought about it and that didn't make much sense.

So anyway... well yeah I don't see this a lot in the wild but it would definitely be a problem. A website needs to have a clear vision of what it is and what it's doing.

2) Pop-ups of all kinds.

Back in the early days of the web people would serve the most awful type of pop up ads, which were called pop behind ads. They would open a new browser window entirely and you wouldn't always even know it was there immediately. Computers were already really slow back then so having another tab open would easily affect the overall speed of many computers out there. But, even if you had a good computer that handled it fine, it was still irritating to have to go deal with it.

These days you don't see that as much, but you still get all kinds of pop ups in the actual tab you're on thanks to all kinds of new code that browsers support. I hate all of them. I might get hate for it, but I don't even like the ones that ask me to sign up for a newsletter. How are you going to ask me to sign up for your newsletter as soon as I get to your website? I don't know anything about your website yet. I'm definitely not signing up.

More common is elements that slide around the screen with you as you browse their page. Usually ads. This practice is frowned upon even in ad companies TOS, but people still do it and seem to get away with it. But, that's not technically a pop up, so I digress. All of these behaviors are just kind of yucky almost all of the time though and I would be fine if they went away completely.

Just to be clear... I am not against having a newsletter. I just think there are better ways to go about getting people on your newsletter.

1) Websites that autoplay sound or video.

I think everyone that has ever used the web can agree with this number one spot, which is why it is here at number one! I don't think I've ever heard anyone that likes a website that will autoplay anything, especially sound. That was a big thing in the early web... landing on a page where the designer programmed in a song, maybe it's their favorite song at the moment, and they push it on to the ears of every visitor. The first line of business from strong everyone other than the website owner is to immediately start looking for the stop or pause button. No one wants to be forced into listening a song. We may very well have our own music or videos playing and this interrupts everything and is very irritating!

More common these days is for a website to have a video that autoplays and isn't muted at start. Some websites this works for them, like TikTok or maybe Reddit if you set them that way because you're going to them looking for media. But, most the time you definitely do not want to do this to people. If they want to hear something they will know how to make your media make the desired sound when they're ready for it.

Honorable Mentions

These honorable mentions come in no particular order. They were just things that struck me as I was writing this article that I'd like to bring up and put out there.

  • Unnecessary animations. Animations just slow things down and can be distracting. In my opinion, adding animations anywhere should always be considered as to whether they are actually necessary. Especially since they usually take an extra amount of work to implement them. And for what? Just to irritate your visitors. We use some here, but we try to keep them minimal and nothing that distracts from actually viewing any content.

  • Slow loading times. I want to forgive this one because it's not always the web developers fault that a site is slow. Sometimes we get stuck working on websites that are on slow servers because that's what the client bought. But, it should definitely be recommended that they pay for a better host. Especially if you're trying to run a website that has a lot of features. Again, though, you know how you surf the web. If a page takes too long to load you're outta there in no time. So, why would anyone treat your website any differently? I feel like I'm not getting to my point very well here but also there isn't much more that needs to be said. This doesn't really need more words.

  • Zoom to smaller image. I haven't seen this on anyone else's lists but it drives me bonkers. I hate when someone posts an image somewhere, anywhere, that is too tiny. So, I click to zoom in and it either stays the same or worst of all get smaller. That's it. I hate when that happens. It happened to me this morning already.

  • Not optimized for mobile, or not mobile friendly. Here's another one that I want to be forgiving of because I'm an old school web designer. But, some others have made some good points on this. Google will rank you lower if you don't have a mobile version of your website. But, you really should have your website optimized for mobile otherwise your visitors are going to be pinch zooming on your content, that is if they can even find you since you're way down at the bottom of the Google barrel.

  • Website made entirely of flash. This makes the honorable mention list because, as you probably know, flash has been getting murdered for years and I think it's finally gone now. There are probably still some flash websites out there, but most modern and new websites showing up aren't using flash at all. I think flash was a cool thing, it just didn't always get used for it's intended purpose. Some people would only learn flash and then when they wanted a website they would make it 100% flash and that was never a good experience.

  • Contact form and no additional contact information. This one is especially true if you run a business website or online store with clients or customers. They aren't going to feel very good about sending a message through an online contact form hoping there is someone on the other end. You should let them know how they can contact you directly where they have a bit more control over it.

  • (Trying to be) So modern it's unusable. This is a weird one. I haven't seen this on anyone else's lists either... but what I'm saying here is that sometimes I land on a website that is trying so hard to be something cool and modern that it ends up going too far and it makes an unpleasant experience.

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