Stupid web site stuff they could fix easily

(This could have gone to Geek Rant, but it’s not overly technical…)

Some stupid web site stuff, that would be easy to fix/avoid, that bugs me:

When you click to watch an online video, and the player shows you the video advert, but then stops working when it comes to play the actual thing you wanted to watch. (The Age and Channel 7’s site seem to do this to me a lot of the time.)

When you click to zoom on a picture, and it pops up another copy of the picture that’s the same size (or even smaller).

When the site is all written in Flash or some other method that makes it look like crap or not appear at all on some devices such as mobiles, or non-Internet Explorer browsers (despite most other sites working fine) and also gives it non-standard navigation such as scroll bars, and causes it not to be indexed by search engines. (Example: Game Traders)

Articles on a site that have no URL of their own so you can’t share/tweet/cite them properly. (Example: the “Myki tips” article currently on the Myki web site)

404 pages that wipe out the URL you were trying to get to, so you can’t see what you got wrong. (There’s no reason for this. It’s perfectly possible to set up a web site with an informative 404 page that doesn’t remove the URL.)

Clicking on a link that goes to another page on the same site, and it opens in a new window… repeatedly, as you navigate around the one site.

Search field that wisely shows you what you searched for when you see the results, but then clears itself when you go click on it to change it slightly and search again. (Example: Lasoo)

A gallery of photos where it claims you’re on Picture 9 of 10, but (every time) the 10th/last page turns out to be an ad for something else. (Example: Any News Limited photo gallery)

What bugs you?

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

23 replies on “Stupid web site stuff they could fix easily”

Most of my whinges are about online newspapers, the Herald Sun that takes forever to, well a second or two, to go back to where you were last on the front page and Fairfax papers with their auto start videos and annoying ads that float over what you are reading and obscure it.

Am I the only person who for half the time, the Fairfax videos merely tell you they’ll start playing in five seconds, but never do; and the other half, do? Still, at least these days they have the “Don’t play” option. When they first came up with that idiotic misfeature they didn’t even have that…

And I get annoyed by any blog or whatever that opens links in new pages/tabs—even to other sites. It’s exceedingly annoying. I want to control my own browsing experience, and make my own decision about whethere it’s loaded in a new tab, new window or replaces the current page. But wankers who think they’ll lose a little bit of ad review (or worse, the adless blog Club Troppo) and make external links open in a new window completely take that away from me.

PDFs that open in new pages. I don’t have the stupid PDF viewer plugin, so I just get an empty window asking me to save the PDF. I can understand why they do this, though, and I’ve used a webbrowser that automatically closed superfluous windows like that, so I guess my beef is either with the PDF plugin (which no-one has ever had a good word for) or my web-browser.

#Twits @whowriteblogs #and #other @things that #looklikethis. Keep Twitter on Twitter.

I also get peeved at the autoplay videos on The Age but find that removing Flash from my browser (or running an OS that doesn’t have a Flash player) works wonders … I tend to shun sites that require it and if it is something I need to do I can do it from another PC anyway …

Wondering whether my other peeves are more of an old-gramps thing kicking in early: annoyance at technology which is essentially a re-invention of email; people who top-reply in email; printer technology which just never fscking works properly; planned obsolescence; Windows in general … I could go on … :)

I’m driven mad by websites (usually government sites) that require you to type “www” at the start otherwise they don’t work. is an example, as is just about anything on the domain and even the company I work for. It’s not hard to make this work properly. Why don’t they do it?

The “Noscript” plug-in for Firefox is excellent, once you get used to having to enable what your interested in it saves a lot of time and unnecessary loss of bandwidth. Every video needs to be clicked on or the site / page permanently or temporarily enabled (Bank sites etc) before things start to load.


Uh.. no offense but if you’re unable to display PDF’s inhouse on a browser in 2011… what exactly are you using? A Casio wristwatch to browse the web?

As for my pet peeves,

#1’s annoying bloody navigation bar at the top. As part of their revamp a few weeks back this stupid thing expands to take over half the screen anytime you mouse over it.

If you have them set as a bookmark on a bookmark toolbar (at the top of the browser), your mouse inevitably makes its way down and triggers the stupid toolbar.

#2’s stupid 20 second or so auto-refresh. Nothing like opening up the site in the background, going back to what you were doing, going back to, starting to read only to have the page refresh ALL ON ITS OWN AND LOSE YOUR PLACE.

#3 the increasing use of the opt-in plugin on WordPress sites. It waits 10-20 second after you’ve loaded the site and then pops up asking for your email. It blocs out the rest of the site till you close it. Annoying as fuck and I can’t reach for the X button faster.

Yes, yes and yes to all the comments about the annoying features on The Age’s website.

Coincidentally, I;ve just now stumbled across a website that perfectly illustrates what I hate most about website design. It’s for a restaurant. Reluctant as I am to give them any publicity, I’m simply unable to describe why I have taken an instant loathing to their website, beyond saying: I’m seeking information, not a sound and light show. You have to see it for yourself to understand how awful it is.

Do businesses have any idea just how much a potential customer can be turned off by a website such as this? Are they really so dazzled by the alleged cleverness of their website designer that they are unable to put themselves in the customer’s shoes?

How about ads that play at the start of the clip you’re trying to watch and also at the end and then play again on the next video you watch from the same site. You watch two videos and see the same add 4 times. Sometimes on longer clips the same ad plays in the middle of the clip. I think it was the US 60 minutes website.

videos rated G that force you to watch adverts when the adverts are either horror movies or something else that is unsuitable for a video of a G rating.

+1 (or is that -1) for the age (SMH here) autoplay videos, these are even worse when they have a video on a live blog page. The video autoplays, then the live blog refreshes after 60 seconds and the video plays again. To stop it you have to turn off BOTH the live blog and video auto play.

It also amazes me that the advertising in the videos has no trouble loading but the content fails about 50% of the time.

While i am at it, stop auto refreshing the news article, ill let you pass on refreshing the news home page, but the article. geeze

Good grief, that restaurant site turned my speakers on after I had muted them! Why does Windows allow this to happen? That’s the kind of thing a virus would do.

OzSoapbox, I make sure it isn’t installed on any computer I use. It doesn’t matter what operating system I’m running, or whether I use Adobe Reader or some other product to view PDFs: I will always make sure the PDF reader plugin is buried.

And I’ve never heard anyone who likes it in all the years its been around. Clicking on a hidden link which (little did you know) goes to a PDF is so much nicer when the result is a dialog box asking if you want to open or save the PDF or do nothing, instead of having the PDF viewer unexpectedly spend the next minute loading even on your brand new computer.

@Philip, I use headphones rather than speakers, and I only put them on when there’s something I want to listen to, because I hate having a computer pinging and beeping and blaring music at me all day. I like to work in silence.

So I didn’t realise that the horrible restaurant website takes control of your speakers, on top of everything else. If it makes you feel any better, all my anti-virus software indicates that that particular site is safe. Doesn’t make it any less bloody annoying, though.

And I agree, whenever my computer starts doing something I didn’t ask it to, my first slightly panicky thought is “Oh, no. Virus.” That’s why those floating ads across The Age website were so disconcerting when The Age first began to use them. I’d be trying to read an article, and this huge #%@&# ad would suddenly cover the entire article. Alarming at first, until I got used to it, but still immensely irritating.

How can we fight back against these things? I have a general policy of refusing to buy anything from organisations that have annoying practices. (For instance, I NEVER buy anything from door-to-door salespeople, no matter how good the deal, and I tell them that when they knock on my door.) In general, if a website is annoying the hell out of me in the first 30 seconds of using it, I close the page and look elsewhere for whatever it is that I want. But with Fairfax it’s a bit difficult. After all, the only real competition it has is News Ltd, and that’s not much competition, in my book. And as @OzSoapBox pointed out, News Ltd comes with a whole bunch of irritating features of its own.

@Alexander, depending on which operating system you use, there are some good, lightweight PDF readers around without the bloat of Adobe Reader. I used Fox-It before Chrome included a PDF viewer. (Chrome sometimes says it can’t display a PDF properly and asks if I want to install Acrobat, but I am yet to see a problem with Chrome’s reader myself, and say No every time.)

Re: Fairfax’s auto play videos, Mumbrella has noted repeatedly that Fairfax promised to remove this “feature” back in April 2011 – but haven’t yet.

Of course, if you want to read news and don’t want ads, there’s always the ABC. (No, it doesn’t have quite the breadth of coverage that Fairfax and News Ltd do.)

@Philip, is working for me without the www. Agree, very annoying on sites that insist on www.

Yup, Daniel. I myself use Xpdf on Linux which is ancient but very light.

And oh, I’ve noticed you’ve changed the title of this blogpost… Between seeing the title and writing the post I forgot what it was that hit that nerve, and I might have phrased it a little differently. So sorry for my rudeness. And thanks if you’ve changed it just for me :)

The last one. If the next button says 3/10, there should be 10. In fact I never click on the last picture because most sites (like use the last as a link to their image library.

re: www. Let the sites hire proper administrators.

Web sites that redirect the back arrow to point to themself. Websites that throw hissy fits if you use arrow keys instead of their buttons. (Commonwealth NetBank, step forward) All websites that use security tokens, for being too bloody minded to share tokens, so I carry a pocket full of plastic. (I’m wary about using java phone apps.) Websites that don’t allow use of mobile browsers, and websites that dont scale themselves to modern sized screens. Websites that ‘remember’ screen layouts, and then pop up a window on a screen that is no longer there, and make it modal (for non coders, that means the parent screen cannot be selected until the child window is closed)

Where to stop???

If yours wasn’t a geek rant, mine was, Daniel.

@Theodore – yes, if they don’t know how many pages / results ( and often you do not – it’s not computationally trivial to determine this beforehand ) say you’re on page 3 / many – or do a google – hundreds / thousands / millions of results were returned…

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