Seven Easy Ways to Annoy Visitors to Your Website

A Satirical Look at Some Usability Mistakes Made by New Webmasters

Seven Easy Ways to Annoy Visitors to Your Website: A Satire

by Christopher Heng,

Note: this is a satirical look at usability. Although it reads like a "Do" list, it is really a "Don't" list. If you follow it literally, your site is history.

  1. Place some (or all of) your content in a small frame and force your visitors to read the content through that window. Don't worry about what constitutes "small" here, since most of the time, even if you create a big frame, it'll be considered too small by most visitors. This trick has a high annoyance value since your visitors have to view the information through that small little box and scroll continuously to see the text while the rest of the browser window is filled with information they don't really want to read at the moment. With this strategy, visitors cannot resize or maximize the window to make their reading more efficient or pleasurable. This method will allow you to frustrate those hapless souls and, as a bonus, make them leave your site.

  2. Disable the right click menu of the browser. Nevermind that people need the right click menu for many purposes, and that they can access the same functions through the main menu bar even after you've disabled it. After all, if your aim is to annoy, you might as well make their visit to your site as unpleasant as possible.

  3. Play background music when they arrive at your page. If that's not enough of an annoyance, make sure you loop the music so that your visitors are plagued by it continuously while they are on your page. If you're feeling particularly sadistic, place automatically-playing music on many (or even all) pages of your site. You don't have to worry about choosing a horrible tune — choose your favourite piece if you like. Since one man's meat is another man's poison, any sort of music tends to annoy most visitors.

  4. Make every link on your site open in a new window when your visitor clicks on it. That is, put a target="_blank" to every link. This will annoy visitors since every time they click on a link in your site, a new window or tab will open. Imagine the number of windows those poor sods will find open on their computer if they try to read every page of your 100-page site. Delicious, isn't it? Another benefit of this technique is that it makes your site look amateurish.

  5. Force your visitors to navigate your website using Flash. That is, place all your content in a Flash file — text, pictures, links, etc — even if Flash is not ideal for such content (a straight HTML page is best for those types of content). Make sure that visitors who don't have the Flash plugin enabled or installed cannot see anything or do much on your website. This effectively drives away all mobile users, a group of users that is growing in size, as well as cripple your visitors who have come to expect certain facilities to always be available in their browsers (such as the BACK key, the ability to bookmark specific pages, the ability to open certain links in a new tab, etc) when they visit websites. Now they will be forced to work through the more limited Flash plugin of their browser with whatever subset of features you deign to provide. In fact, exclusively using Flash for your site content might even help you to drop to the bottom of search engine listings too, thereby reducing the number of visitors to your site. After all, if you don't have visitors, you don't have to think of new ways to annoy them.

    Update: Flash is being phased out and will no longer be available by the end of 2020. After that date, you will no longer be able to use this method to exasperate visitors. Pro-Tip: there are 6 other methods that you can still try.

  6. Load your site with pop-up windows that open when your visitor reaches your page as well as when they leave the page. In fact, if you want to annoy them even further, open a pop-up window when they click on links on your site.

  7. Reduce the navigational usability of your website. Don't put site maps or navigation bars with shortcut links to pages that your visitors will usually want to go such as the "Download" page if you're a software author. If you can annoy your visitors by forcing them to read whole pages of your text before they can find a link to move on to do what they really want to do, so much the better.

There you have it. Seven quick ways that you can use to annoy, frustrate and irritate your visitors. They may even be effective in driving them away permanently. There are undoubtedly many other ways, but the methods listed above are easily doable by new webmasters.

WARNING: remember, the above is satire. It is a "reverse tutorial" if you will. You don't want to follow it.

Copyright © 2007-2018 by Christopher Heng. All rights reserved.
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