After having avoided watching Armageddon for 18 years, I fell into the trap yesterday. My husband found the movie on Netflix, and it was his turn to chose. So I went along for the ride. And if I do say so myself, I did so with a rather game attitude.
After all, it was a summer block buster, there must be some fun to be had I thought, and I was ready to have fun. Typically, I am the type of person who checks reviews before sitting down to watch, to have some sense of what I am getting into, but this time I skipped it. I was in the mood for a mindless action movie, or so I thought.
Usually I can have some fun with mindless action.
This particular movie takes mindlessness to a whole new level however. If I could rate it from 1 – 5 I would chose to dip down to the negative scale. 1 is really too generous.
I suffered though the whole thing. Don’t ask me why I stayed, I really have no idea why I actually abused myself in such a way. In any event, as soon as the movie ended, I went for the reviews and found a thoroughly excoriating one written by the late Roger Ebert. Ah, that was like a balm to my soul. Reading the review made me & my husband laugh in recognition of how we felt about it. We were not alone!
No relief in the webdesign world
The corresponding experience in the world of webdesign doesn’t exist. The first part, the “watching”, yes that part certainly exists, but where is the review that brings solace to the soul? Sometimes I truly wish I could turn to a website review when I happen upon a particularly heinous site online. Instead I shake my head in disbelief and wish I could reach right through the interwebs to shake the owner and/or creator of the atrocity by the collar and ask “What in the world were you thinking?”. Of course there is no such thing as a website reviewer to turn to for relief for any one particular site, although I might get some solace visiting http://www.webpagesthatsuck.com/
Here is the thing, I know I was in the minority of people in my dislike for Armageddon. It actually got a 73% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. When it comes to webdesign, it’s important to know what most people like and dislike. Your personal taste might have to take a backseat. What you like to see on your website might not be the same thing your visitors like to see.
What to Avoid
There are so many things to avoid using on your website, I can’t begin to cover them all, so here are just three:
Black Background / Multi Colored Text
One of the top things on my personal list of things that should be outlawed on the web is a black background with a mix of different color text, followed closely by black or dark background with single color text or white text. It makes for a singularly difficult reading experience. And it’s not just me. Surveys show that 87% of people find such websites very hard to read, and that alone should be reason enough to avoid this. If you happen to be one of the 13%, keep in mind that you want your website to appeal to as many people as possible – so put your own preference aside. I am hoping that as web accessibility becomes more and more important, this particular choice will be seen less and less – I suppose I can’t hope for it’s complete extinction.
Things that start playing by themselves
Another very poor choice is audio that starts playing automatically without the visitor making a deliberate choice. It might be music, spoken word or a video. It does not matter which, it is another thing that tends to irritate users more than please them, as they don’t expect it and the experience can be jarring. If they happen to have a sleeping child nearby that wakes up, it can really make for an unpleasant and angering experience. I imagine nobody reading this really has as a goal to either anger or irritate their visitors to the point of making them instantly leave your website.
Don’t get me wrong. Video and audio on your site can be a very effective means of communicating with your visitors. But let them make the choice of when they want to watch or listen. Don’t force it on them.
Something that was quite recently very popular was the use of sliders at the top of a home page. I am happy to see it is getting less and less use lately. Why don’t I like sliders? Let me count the ways:
Statistics show that only a very small number of visitors actually click on a slide, and when they do, it is typically the first slide.
The goal of each page of your website should be to focus the mind of your visitor on your most important message. Sliders by their nature distract from your core message. Instead of focusing on what is most important, you are serving up a range of options by using multiple different messages on the same page. There is nothing wrong with having more than one message to deliver with a website, but that is what navigation menus are for. You should make it easy for your user to find what they need and sliders are not the way to do that.
Sliders are distracting to the eye.
Things that move on a webpage cause distraction and are often perceived by the end user as irritating. Don’t irritate your audience. (with some exceptions of course, I might have irritated a whole bunch of people by picking on the movie “Armageddon”, but I can live with that, and if you made it this far, so can you apparently).
Sliders are popular with website owners, and unpopular with end users. Once you realize that, the decision to stop using them becomes easy.
Negative for SEO
Sliders can hurt your SEO, according to Yoast. Yoast makes a great case for why sliders should not be used.