Crabby Old Lady can’t prove it and she doesn’t have the wherewithal for a scientific study, but there appears to be a dramatic uptick recently in the annoyances of using the internet. And what really gets her knickers in a twist about these irritations is that they could mostly be eliminated if people who run websites and blogs were less sloppy and/or more considerate of their readers.
The list today is by no means complete, just the ones Crabby has encountered most frequently in the past week or two.
- How many times does Crabby have to repeat this: no light text on dark backgrounds. It is impossible for old people to read and Crabby has heard tell from young ‘uns that they don’t like it much either. Besides, the style is soooo 20th century.
- A similar annoyance is capital letters missing at beginning of sentences. There is a reason they are standard: ease of reading. If it is inconvenient for you to push the Shift key, it is also inconvenient for Crabby to try to read. So she doesn’t.
- Another similar irritation is lack of paragraphs. No one can read long chunks of text minus breaks without getting a headache. If what you have to say is important enough to spend the time writing it, you might want to make sure people can read it. It takes only two taps on the Enter key to start a new paragraph with a line break between them.
- Crabby Old Lady subscribes to many email newsletters from newspapers, magazines, websites, political and other organizations, universities, retail websites and aggregators. In the past week alone, about half the links she clicked – many from big-name publications - were broken, leading nowhere or to 404 pages. What in god’s name, Crabby wonders, is the purpose of the newsletter if the senders don’t care if the links function?
- An increase in the number of animated ad images on the sides of websites is driving Crabby to distraction and she doubts she is the only web user who makes a point to never click on them and to avoid buying products of advertisers who do this. No product is unique and there are always alternatives if Crabby is really interested.
- All kinds of retail sites lose Crabby’s business by burying the price behind seven or eight or more clicks. Tell Crabby the price on the first page and you might get a sale. If it is beyond the third click, you won’t no matter what it is. Software vendors are big offenders in this area.
- Non-dated pages render the information useless. Health and medical sites are particularly guilty, but many others don’t include dates, even some blogs. Unless Crabby knows how recent or old the story is, she has no way to evaluate the information or know if she needs to do further research.
- These last two apply particularly to blogs, although some news and political sites are guilty too: pop-ups on mouseover with a large thumbnail of the linked page or, more frequently these days, a product link. The pop-ups always cover the precise words Crabby is reading and most blogs have so many of them that, when Crabby moves her mouse, another pops up, then another and another. Anyone who thinks this is reader-friendly was probably the most obnoxious kid in school.
- And finally, widgets. There is nothing inherently wrong with widgets; some are modestly interesting. However, the kind of bloggers who use one widget, invariably use many. Perhaps what they don’t understand is that each widget is fed to their page by a different server. If one of those servers is down, the page won’t load for up to a minute or more. And the more widgets there are, the more likely this will happen. Multitudes of widgets on a page are a sure reader killer.
Crabby Old Lady gets a fair amount of email from bloggers asking how they can increase their readership. If you are among those or know someone who is, you might want to go through this checklist and see what improvements can be made. Crabby is not the only reader who just moves on when she encounters these annoyances.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Celia Jones gives us Part 1 of a colorful and detailed account of a trip to England in Derbyshire County: Something in the Water? Part 2 will be published tomorrow.]