First impressions and bad experiences

When you get to an advertising or marketing website, what makes you wonder what the creators were thinking about when they sign it off, what things make you dislike the brand? Here’s my list, supplemented by a quick poll around the office.

  • Useless Splash pages. I’ve gone to a site and all I get is a useless splash page (usually in flash, so it’s dynamic and moving, supposed to show something about the company). Why takes me to something that adds nothing to the experience, just makes me think you’re not interested in me getting to your content.
  • Flash sites where there is nothing but one big flash file, with no section URLS. I can’t share this easily, even if I love it, epsecially if I only love one section. I’m not going to make my contacts work their way through multiple layers. I know I’ve delivered things like this occasionally, usually due to issues with the content management systems that won’t let me do anything else. But if you have free rein on hosting, then why make it complicated.
  • Information-led sites that are just flash. Why bury stuff? Flash has its place, for video, for interactive experiences. If all you are doing is showing some case studies, some text-driven information or anything that really does not require ‘action’ then stick to HTML. Or at least fix the flash so I can copy and paste relevant information.
  • Dodgy roll-over menus. Menus that are multi-leveled, that expand on rollover and all it takes is the smallest amount of movement to make it disappear. Make them a bit more fixed.
  • Not providing adequate About or Help information but taking your straight to a ‘forum’. Twitter does this; Audioboo just has a how to video. Forums are difficult to naviage, videos take too much time. I tend to see this more with tech companies. Forums are great for a lot of stuff, but when it’s used to replace basic documentation, making me search through multiple forum threads for an answer, then it’s just annoying. The same with videos. You have to assume I have little time and no headphones.
  • Sites that break the internet when they get taken down. If it’s only a tactical site, then let the URL degrade gracefully but redirecting to your main site.
  • Teeny, tiny content windows. There’s a whole page and the information is stuck in a little section with a scroll bar in the middle of the page. Use the space!
  • Sites that don’t have a mobile version. Again, degrade gacefully. If I have to have flash, put in the html version that lets me know what I need. Don’t just leave it blank.
  • Resizing my browser. I’ve got my screens set up as I need them to be, small, medium or large. Respect my choices. Just because ‘your’ design needs a different size, doesn’t mean that the other 40 tabs I have open work in the same way.
  • Autoplay – of anything. Sound, video, etc. When I have 40+ tabs open and I’m just opening more qucikly, don’t make me hunt for sound playing.
  • Links in text that aren’t links but are rollover ads. They’re being disingenuous and leave you feeling hard done by, not a good feeling about the brand – either of them.
  • Online advertising that is invasive; that wobbles, that has a tiny close button, that is far too bright and flashy and move your attention away from what you are looking at.
  • Sites that deliver you content on IP address not on the TLD you typed in. I work with a fair few non-English people. They want to see content in their only language when going to the country site, not be forced to see the UK version.

One final one..from the Creative Director. He hates Creative Clichés (but they’re only clichés if you don’t do them well) and hates any cool site that does something that he wishes he had done. Don’t we all!

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