The 65 Most Annoying things about the Web Today

The 65 Most Annoying things about the Web Today

Posted on 13. Aug, 2009 by Bradley Hebdon in Features

Using the Web can still be a very annoying experience!
Using the Web can still be a very annoying experience!

We’ve come a long way on the web today. Or have we? While we’ve innovated in many areas, we’ve also continued to disregard pre-existing issues. And in some cases, we have also created new ones. Here is my list of the top 65 most annoying things about the web today. They’re in no particular order, but I have organized them into what I consider core groups.

Poor Design

  1. Illegible text. I can’t read that, it’s too small. And what on earth is that font called?
  2. Busy backgrounds. Oh MySpace, why do you allow users to create profiles like that? My eyes hurt.
  3. Obscure links. I’m confused, can I click on that or not? Oh I get it, you don’t want me to view other pages.
  4. Flyouts that are too large. Holy crap Yahoo! This is a page within a flyout!
  5. Drop-down menu navigation too many levels deep. OK, if I slowly move my mouse this way first… dammit Jim, I’m a doctor not a magician!
  6. Complicated navigation. I just want to get to that page, the one over there! Oh I see, you want me to complete the maze first.
  7. Abused centerpieces. Aren’t centerpieces supposed to serve as mechanisms for promotion, rather than areas to cram an entire page’s worth of content into itself? Call me an idealist, I guess.
  8. Poor navigation labels. Give me a clue and use labels that make sense!
  9. Clutter & chaos. With no emphasis or information hierarchy, it’s difficult for me to know what to look at, and what to do next.
  10. Ugly WAPs. Many companies treat their WAP sites like a deformed step-child they keep in the basement.
  11. Splash screens. Nice, a road block between your user and your home page.

Unfindable Information

  1. Dysfunctional site search. (Sigh) Why didn’t this site just use Google?
  2. Too many blog categories. Isn’t this what tags were meant for?
  3. Contact info. I just want to speak to them on the phone! And when I say “them” i mean a human.
  4. Invisible sign in. OK, so I registered, but how do I sign in?
  5. Hidden account closure. I guess I’m a member for life now?
  6. Unscannable info. I want to quickly know if this article is relevant. But alas, huge paragraphs, long headlines and no subheadings make for an unscannable chunk of data, and an indigestible piece of gristle.

No Content Strategy

  1. No focus. Yada, yada, yada. Get to the point, what’s your message and what do you offer?
  2. Spelling & grammar. Spelling mistakes are hard to forgive and really hurt credibility.
  3. Ineffective product pages: What am I buying? Why should I buy this? Help me understand, and I’ll move down the purchase funnel!
  4. Outdated. There’s nothing more thrilling than seeing a blog frozen in time. At some point, a landfill for websites is going to be needed.
  5. Small photos. Why would I buy something I cannot see?


  1. Auto-playing home page video. Take note the first thing I do when coming to your site is scramble to find the video pause button. And that’s when I’m surfing from home.
  2. Auto browser resizing. And you did that because?
  3. Customer service nags. Ironic really. Chat pop-ups appear like genies out of a lamp when I don’t need them.
  4. Theme tunes. Got to love that auto-play music, especially when it cycles over and over and over, and over.
  5. Auto opt-ins. It seems like an automatic opt-in is a contradiction in terms to me. No I don’t want your newsletter, and if I did, I’d opt-in.

Evil Forms

  1. Unreadable captchas. Pure Evil. If I had a brick, why I would…
  2. Too many fields. This is utterly exhausting. Oh forget it, I’m going to abandon this form.
  3. Cryptic error messaging. OK, so I made a mistake. If you used English, I might be able to fix it.
  4. No confirmation. Was I successful or not? I’m looking for anything here, a “thank-you”, a “job well done”, a “good boy”… anything that confirms the form was indeed a submitted form.
  5. Too many constraints. I want to add my Canadian zip code, but you’re validating against the US format only!
  6. Too small fields. How I’m supposed to enter my street address in that state-sized field?
  7. The reset button. Do we really need this? I especially love it when I accidentally press “reset” instead of “submit”. It’s especially satisfying when it’s a long form.

Intrusive Advertising

  1. Pop-ups. And that includes those fancy, flashy, moving, hard-to-close ones. Are you serious? This is 2009.
  2. Interstitials. Thanks for adding another click and creating a barrier between me and your content! Give me a reason to leave, I dare you.
  3. Flyouts via links in content. Oh darn, I didn’t know that was an ad! Thanks for punishing me.
  4. Too many Google ads. I know there’s some content around here….
  5. Long video pre-rolls. Is this ad ever going to end? Hang on; I forgot what video I clicked on.
  6. The bus stop. Home pages that resemble bus stops — flyers, posters, graffiti all shouting at me. Sometimes, I swear I can even smell urine.


  1. Remembering user names and passwords. Seriously, how many do I need to keep track of? Just give me Facebook connect already!
  2. Being forced to register for purchases. I just want to buy it, OK? Forget it, I’m going elsewhere.
  3. Forced password reset. I just want to know my password! The one I chose but have forgotten. I know you know.
  4. Getting locked out. I get the three-attempts-and-you’re-out idea, but it would be nice to know the rules before hand!
  5. Password sent by “snail mail”. I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry. Should I expect a scroll to be delivered and read by a messenger?


  1. Spam. We still cannot cure this disease?
  2. Viruses. If I was a conspiracy theorist, I’d say the anti-virus companies were creating these. You know, supply and demand and all.
  3. Phishing. Particularly sneaky; and definitely a step beyond annoying.
  4. Trolls on messageboards/blogs. Oh well, that’s life I guess – art imitating life and all.
  5. Fake profiles. Am I following the real Steven Hawking on Twitter? It says here he went bowling last night.
  6. Facebook app invitations. For the thousandth time, no I do not want to play Mob Wars, and no I don’t want a “pet in an egg” either.


  1. Explorer 6. I speak for all developers here, if there’s a plug attached, please pull it. RIP Explorer 6.
  2. Plug-ins. Not only do I have to download another plug-in, I have to keep these things current!
  3. Entire sites built in flash. I don’t get it, why?
  4. PDF overuse. Why couldn’t this PDF just be a web page?
  5. Dell’s Netbook trackpad. Designed to be web browsing device, Dell’s Mini 10 trackpad has a trillion bells and whistles, but cannot fulfill basic tasks like moving the cursor from point A to point B without going to C first.
  6. Small netbook screens. While mobile devices have optimized views for their screens, Netbooks and their 9 and 10 inch screens are caught in a weird place.
  7. Inconsistent colors. Optimizing colors and contrast across both Macs and PCs is a designers nightmare.
  8. Charging for Wi-Fi. Provide it free of charge, and the patrons will come!


  1. Slow page load. OK that’s it, I’ve been patient and their 3 seconds are up.
  2. Comment approval. I thought, I articulated, I commented, I waited. Nothing. That will teach me to contribute.
  3. Black-hole between ordering and shipping. I took me 5 minutes to order this laptop, why isn’t it getting shipped? Should I place my order again? Should I cancel this order? What’s the order status?
  4. Twitter is down again. I’m starting to think this is a feature. One akin to a long line outside a trendy night club.
  5. Customer service. Since I cannot get a human on the phone, a 24 hour response time to my e-mail is not acceptable. Well look at that, I guess you just quantified the value of my business.
  6. Submission timers. I saw this really great article! I know, I’ll post it on Reddit. And there’s another one, I’ll post that on Reddit too. What, I have to wait 10 minutes to post another article? That will teach me to contribute.

7 thoughts on “The 65 Most Annoying things about the Web Today

  1. Great list. My school’s website fails on SO many of these points (and yes, I have begged for usability testing ’til I’m blue in the face, but hey, it works for the IT folks who “designed” it, so what’s the problem?).

    Under Accounts I would add, “forced registration before you can even see what the site is about or has to offer.” This generally accomplishes one of two things: users going elsewhere or population of one’s database with junk data made up on the spot. Oh, and those crafty sites that require a “real” email address for account activation? That’s the main reason for junk addresses at yahoo. Good job! You’ve just forced two sets of database crud, at your site and someone else’s!

  2. – Too may Google ads. I know there’s some content around here….

    – Spelling & grammar. Spelling mistakes are hard to forgive and really hurt credibility.


    – Comment approval. I thought, I articulated, I commented, I waited. Nothing. That will teach me to contribute.

    Your comment is awaiting moderation….. 😀

  3. My additions to evil forms:

    1. Stupid max-limits on fields – they want my address to be not more than 15 characters !

    2. Follow their rules on passwords – just tell me if it is weak/strong/whatever. Why should you reject it if doesn’t have a capital letter?

  4. Accounts: # Forced password reset.

    The reason for this is simple and good: no website should store unencrypted passwords, and those stored passwords should not be decrypt-able. If a hacker gets their hands on a user table with unencrypted passwords they can do untold damage to anyone that uses the same password on many sites. Storing passwords as salted MD5s is superior, and not doing so is a dis-service to users.

    Agree on all other points though 🙂

  5. I agree with all – you forgot the”‘no back button.” I just want to go back to where I JUST CAME FROM but some pages (hello, Facebook!) leave you in some kind of loop and you have to navigate back the long way to page you just left.

  6. Good list, but I don’t agree with emailing password reminders. If a site can email you your password in plain text then it hasn’t encrypted it in it’s database which is a real security risk.

    In fact emailing passwords, whether the original or a newly generated one is inadvisable – you don’t want to leave passwords lying in your inbox making life a whole lot easier for any hacker who gets into your mailbox.

  7. …what Carol was referring to was not necessarily the “back” button, but rather sites that do not include links to their starting points, ie Facebook, It’s like playing checkers with the guy who refuses to quit even though he is only able to make one move.

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