Lately I have been experiencing some frustration with both my iPhone and iPad while browsing the web. Maybe I am just being cynical, and usually I blame ignorance over malice, but it seems that many websites are purposely designing webpages for tablets just to piss me off. These pages work just fine on a normal computer or laptop, but on a touch screen tablet they seem designed to irritate.
#5. Screen fading with an advertisement for an iPad app.
I enjoy going to news aggregator sites, like Google News, Fark.com, and Feedly.com. The problem with these sites is not the fault of the new aggregator, but the sites they direct you too. When you click a link to a story on a news site it works just fine for a few seconds. I have to zoom in to even see the text of the story because it is tiny compared to all the ads, links, videos, headlines, and colorful sidebars. Which I am willing to accept, I am willing to adjust due to the small screen that I am viewing. But the website is smart, it knows you’re visiting from a tablet. After the text is large enough and as I read maybe three sentences into the article, the screen fades to an awful grey color and half an ad blocks the screen. I have to zoom back out, or scroll around to find the x, or the “no thanks”, or whatever they use to shut the damn thing down. I don’t want to download their app. I never want to down load an app to replace a webpage. I have yet to see the advantage of downloading an app of a website over just going to the site. If I downloaded every app from every newspaper or magazine page I went to, my iPad would be crushed to death from the weight of bullshit icons.
#4. Links in close proximity to each other.
Accident or design, you decide… I enjoy visiting Dilbert.com every morning. The best part of reading Dilbert on-line, are the comments submitted by readers. This is what separates the web from newspapers, interaction. So when I attempt go to click the comments link sometimes I accidently hit the highest star level (five stars) that resides just above the comment link. This happens about 20% of the time I click to read the comments. (Fat fingers) I don’t believe this is an accident. I think the page was specifically designed to stack the deck in favor of high reviews. I wonder how many links that exist close together are by design. I have also seen this on other sites, sometimes the logout icon drops down a screen to choose if you want to log off or do something else. This box is almost always over a larger ad. One little mistake and off you go to subscribe to Netflix.
#3. Lately I have been seeing a lot of ads that display a prominent red X on one side of the ad with circle around it, and then in the upper corner in tiny 6 point font, the word close. How bad does your product have to be where the only way you can get someone to go to your add is by accident. Worse, by misleading them to clicking an ad while trying to get rid of the damn thing. What kind of sales strategy believes that a person who just attempted to close your ad would have second thoughts once redirected, then actually buy your product? That’s like an ice cream company throwing ice cream across the street at random people’s heads in hopes that if some got into their mouths they would come inside. Wow, how delicious, maybe I won’t call the police and buy some of your kooky marketing instead. I learned a while back to hover the mouse over such ads to look for the real X or close button. No such luck with a tablet.
#2. Slideshows and Split articles.
I understand why some companies want webpage designers use slideshows and split articles, they believe that this strategy generates more page views. I think this is a holdover from the old days when people read newspapers. When no one complained about having to turn a page and look through a sea of ads to find where the rest of the article went. When flipping through a newspaper I get a little annoyed at having to find the rest of the article in some back page, but it isn’t hard to find. I don’t have to watch ten seconds of a video before the page turns. Slideshows and articles that make you click to several pages just piss me off. I just hate it when you click a link that promises something interesting like: Top 25 great moments in Space. Then you open the page and are greeted with a photo and one sentence below as a caption. Then magical arrow shows up, begin slide show? Aaaaagh! I usually close the page immediately.
#1. Jumping screens (iPad and iPhone issue)
When a webpage loads, it seems that there is a certain order for the content to appear. The title, then the body of the text, then the ads, photos, sidebars, etc… At first thought you may believe this is just and proper. However the text formats around everything else. The problem is that the text starts to appear first on the screen, then it keeps jumping around while photos and ads fill the page. The text formats around it. As soon as I attempt to scroll the screen up or down to see the text that just suddenly jumped out of frame I invariably touch an advertisement. The page minimizes and another tab opens up for some ad I don’t want to see. Then I have to close the page and re-open the one I was looking at, and then the page reloads from scratch. If I really want to read the page I have to wait. I don’t dare touch the screen until the entire thing loads or it may jump just as my finger hits the screen and POW! Off I go to find out which five foods I should stop eating immediately. Then back to the beginning. I reach for the screen, hold my finger just above the text. Do I touch the screen and learn more than I wanted to know about a new diet pill that works so well it may be illegal, or do I hope the screen will follow my finger so I can read the damn thing?
I shouldn’t bitch. I get the world at my fingertips, but as a price I have to accidentally learn about how Justin Bieber feels about older women, or what secret food will make you healthy overnight, or learn how the UN is planning on taking my 401k. I guess these ads were effective after all. I didn’t have to look around for examples.