The world of digital is divided between businesses that offer a modern and engaging experience to their users and businesses that have stopped considering the well-being of their users. It’s the latter category that interests us today, namely all the businesses that anger digital customers with old-fashioned and ridiculous practices. In an age when you can order a pizza with a click and get a taxi with another, it’s high time for digital users to make their voice heard and get businesses to change their ways. Here’s a list of the top 7 digital sins that are making users’ life impossible and that some – strangely unaware – businesses continue to perpetuate.
#1. The ones that think people don’t use smartphones
Smartphones are not exactly new anymore. iPhone celebrated this year the 10th anniversary of the little rectangle without which we couldn’t survive. There is no word to illustrate the social importance of smartphones but to give you an idea, try to name at least five adults who don’t own a phone. In short, it’s no wonder that most business strategies focus on maximizing the impact of smartphones on their revenues. Search engines have even agreed to regard responsive designs and mobile accessibility as a ranking factor. Some companies continue to rely on their mobile-unfriendly website that requires users to zoom in to read and that are impossible to navigate. The reasoning behind it remains a mystery. But the result is always the same: Users switch to a mobile-friendly competitor instead.
#2. The ones that haven’t changed their website since the 90s
The 1990s were cool: They saw the rise of the Internet. Websites may not have been elegant, but they were functional enough, even though they needed several seconds – if not minutes – to load. Today, a website that requires more than a second to load is guaranteed to lose some impatient visitors. But nothing is as bad as websites that have not updated their design to the latest trends. Flash sequences in the titles, impossible color schemes, a layout that seems inspired by a page from a word processor program, you know the kind. You need to work with a professional web design company to give your digital presence a modern and aesthetic look nowadays. Users are web-savvy, they expect businesses to display elegant, engaging and responsive websites. Anything less is just judged to be unprofessional.
#3. The ones that think pop-ups are cool
If you are not familiar with Jakob Nielsen and Dom Norman, they are the user experience experts who founded the Nielsen Norman Group years before UX was a marketable term. In the late 90s, Jakob Nielsen was already sharing his views about user experience. Unfortunately, it’s taken several years for the rest of the digital industry to catch up and apply his suggestions. More recently, the group has published an article referring to the most hated online advertising techniques. Needless to say that their words sound almost painfully true for several users. They mention pop-ups or model ads – which is the name given to an ad that appears on top of the content and needs to be closed before you can interact with the site itself – as the number one enemy of digital users. “Don’t forget to download our free whitepaper”, “Register here for a discount”, “Latest offers”, and much more, these pop-ups have a negative impact on the user. They distract from the content, and they are intrusive.
#4. The ones that force users to sign up
The marketing team has to hit the numbers; we get that. But why they think that forcing people to sign up to access the rest of the content will help to increase leads is a question that nobody can answer. Do you like to be forced to give your email address to read an article online? Nobody does. But, unfortunately for the companies that employ such method, most users are digital-savvy. They give fake email addresses. Mr. Test at firstname.lastname@example.org is a regular on the lead lists. Thankfully, Mr. Test doesn’t mind the intrusive newsletters and other emailing, which is a good thing because the rest of us can continue to enjoy the web in peace.
#5. The ones that play music or videos automatically
Most users nowadays open several tabs at the same time as they surf the web, to quote an old saying. And the one thing that they hate with a great passion is when without warning one of their many tabs starts playing a loud video or a piece of music. Autoplay is not only irritating, but it is also commonly accepted by the digital community as a bad idea. For a start, autoplay items interrupt the browsing experience of the user. Believe it or not, dear website, we didn’t give you the permission to play sounds at us. In an office environment, that can generate constant interruptions. In any location, users tend to shut down the tab and never come back as a revengeful act.
#6. The ones that use only stock photos
Ah, stock photos. Aren’t they lovely, all the same since the 90s? Websites that rely heavily on stock photos should consider the impact it has on their brand. Users cannot take a business seriously, especially if they have come across the same stock photos in another context. It looks cheap, unprofessional and slightly laughable too – particularly if you’re using the photos to illustrate the most individual element of your web content, the about-us page. Users can only wonder if services are also stock items.
#7. The ones that don’t proofread
Spelign mistaks ar no funn. Visitors have an unforgiven eye for spelling mistakes, missing links – 404 doesn’t go down very well with users – and other content issues. They expect the company to care about its web content as part of maintaining a professional image. Presenting a website that shows incorrect words, that is unable to offer proper navigation and that doesn’t flow logically is an indication that the company doesn’t pay attention. As a result, users tend to assume that services or products will suffer from the same poor quality.
From a poor reading experience to an overzealous marketing strategy, some websites seem to play with the users’ nerves. Unfortunately for these websites, it never ends well when you annoy your users. They leave and buy elsewhere, in the best of cases. In the worst, they take it upon themselves to destroy your business reputation.