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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Evil and annoying web page tricks

Sometimes I wonder if the creators of some of these web page abominations ever have to use them. There are some things which definitely are not broken which do not need fixing which they touch anyway, and other things which are so obnoxious that a bunch of people click away immediately.

How many times have you clicked through to a link someone shared with you on some old-school news site and been confronted with an auto-playing ad with audio? I had that happen to me just last night, and I run with a fair amount of blocking add-ons in my normal browser. I just muted that thing and scrolled past it to read the story.

A few hours later, while discussing it with the person who shared it with me, they asked me about "the interview". I was confused: what interview? It was just a description of something that happened. Nobody was interviewed. She clarified: there was a video up at the top.

Oh.

I had skipped right past it due to the ad and never realized it went into actual content later. When I went back, I found out it was a 30 second ad for approximately 50 seconds of "content". Absolutely ridiculous.

As long as I'm talking about stupid things done on web pages, how about these fools who think that messing with scrolling is a good idea? If I go to your page and it doesn't scroll like every other page, it just feels creepy. It's like having someone blow over an empty bottle while throwing spiders at you. You can read while it's going on, but you're going to be distracted the whole time.

This can be particularly bad on mobile devices due to some horrible "themes" which try to play silly games with scrolling behavior. In a similar vein, I've seen some of these themes turn parts of a page into clickable hot spots to go forward or backward, so if I linger too long while scrolling on my phone, it'll jump to another post!

Then there are the sites which pop up interstitials to let me know that you have an iOS app. I don't care. Go away. Guess what? Instead of clicking "get the app" or "just take me to the page", I'm going to click that back button and go somewhere else.

Finally, there is a special place in web page hell for those people who think that a floating centered blob which says "add this to your home screen by clicking here!" was a good idea. How about you stay out of my way and hope I'm still here after I figure out how to scroll your garbage out of my face?

Just put your content up in a sensible format and let the user's choices of interfaces do the rest. That's the only way to go.