I subscribe to a slew of free online newsletters and reports, most outside of my normal purview, because I never know what I might come across. This morning’s Research Brief — a free daily newsletter from The Center For Media Research (For Planners and Buyers of Advertising Media) — was about things that make consumers unhappy with web sites. Their data from a survey conducted for The Hostway Company, listed fifteen web site characteristics that people might find annoying. They asked respondents to rank their level of annoyance on a scale of 1(not annoying at all) to 5 (extremely annoying). The characteristics, from most to least annoying, are:
Requirement to register and log-on before viewing the Web site
Requiring the installation of extra software to view the site
Confusing navigation – hard to find pages, too many clicks
Content that is out of date
No contact information available
Music or other audio that plays automatically
Inability to use the browser’s “back” button
Ineffective site search tool
Overdone sites – unnecessary splash/flash screens or animation
Text that moves
Opening a new window for a link
Poor appearance – colors, fonts, format
The first three seldom apply to blogs, but the others should be taken into consideration for all web sites. Why? Because when encountering a pet peeve, over 70% of site visitors are likely to then:
Refuse to visit the site again
Unsubscribe to promotions or messages from the company
Refuse to purchase from that Web site
View the company in a negative way
Here are my thoughts:
I personally abhor pop-up ads, so you will never find them on one of my web sites, not even to flog my own books.
If you are asked for more than just an email address, the downside of registration for the visitor is the loss of anonymity. (Many people have email addresses that do not include their real name.) Of course, when you give out your email address, identifiable or not, to people you do not know, you have to consider whether that party is going to sell it and/or deluge you with spam. Still, asking visitors to register or log-in can have value for both the site owner and the visitor. Some sites provide registered users the ability to select certain viewing preferences and the site implements them when that person logs-in. And if the visitor shares common interests with the site and wants to receive notifications of any sort, registration is necessary. I know of a few bloggers who send out a weekly recap newsletter containing the first few lines or topics of their week’s postings, complete with links to each. The recipient doesn’t have to visit daily to see what, if anything, is new, and can click on any one or more of the links in the newsletter that are of interest…or none and hit delete.
There are some add-ons that I think are normal to expect, such as Adobe’s pdf reader and an audio player. Still, it should be optional. If you don’t want to play an offered audio or video clip, that should not deter you fro reading the rest of the site. Flash sites annoy me, but those sites that offer a first screen allowing me to choose win my appreciation.
Slow loading pages are a drag — I hope nobody is experiencing delays with my blog or website pages. I try to keep my graphic files small and I don’t use a lot of technobells and whistles.
Dead links are, well, deadly. Still, you can’t control other people’s content, and when you maintain an online archive of past postings it’s way too time consuming to re-visit every single link you ever posted. (There may be some nifty software tools that check every link on your site, and perhaps one of my savvy readers will tell us about it.)
Confusing navigation – I hate it when I can’t find what I’m looking for on a web site. The links should be clear and placed in the same location on each page. This is less an issue for blogs, as visitors generally read down from the top, but I do appreciate sites that have a search feature and for bloggers, such as myself, who write about a few different topics, having categories can be handy for the visitor that is only interested in particular topics. I’m not yet convinced that my categories are the most useful for my visitors…you’ll have to let me know.
Out of date content – well I believe bloggers should post on a regular schedule, be it daily, weekly, or monthly, as long as your visitors know what to expect and are not disappointed too often. Some bloggers can get away with posting a message that they can’t come out and play today, but others will lose their following if they try that too often. I am still in the latter category so I will do my best to keep posting something every weekday.
Contact information should be available, crucial for doing business, but just as important for bloggers. And yet I have not put my email address on the blog site yet. Why? Because the spammers have automated programs that troll for character strings that look like email addresses, grabbing up anything with firstname.lastname@example.org. Occasionally in a posting I have mentioned my email address, but I am not getting as much viewer mail as I would like, so sometime this week I am going to make a change and post it permanently on the blog site.
To be continued…