The internet has gone all to hell. It is so painful to try to read these days that Crabby Old Lady has cut her online time in half and will undoubtedly withdraw further. Here are some of the reasons:
• In the past two weeks or so, both the Washington Post and The New York Times require Crabby to sign in to read any story after clicking a headline even though she is already logged in to the website.
• In the upper left corner of the Washington Post home page is a photo that changes every four or five seconds. But the designers at WaPo are so incompetent that they don't bother to conform the size of the photos so when Crabby is reading something below, the text jumps up and down as the different sized photos load and Crabby loses her place. Not to mention that that her brain goes all wonky from the jerky movement.
• In the past, the close buttons on interstitial ads between pages of a story actually worked. Nowadays, when you click it, the ad remains for another eight to ten seconds and no amount of clicking “close” changes that. On ads and requests to take a survey that pop up on top of what Crabby is reading (itself one of the major annoyances), the close button is now hidden in varying parts of the design of the ad so it can hardly be found.
• The number of animated ads has increased so there is hardly any site on which Crabby isn't distracted by flickering off at the edge of her vision field as she is trying to read. It makes her brain go all squirrelly.
• Undated news stories are useless. Huffington Post is particularly guilty of this. Crabby never has figured out where to look for the date and some websites post no date at all so there is no way to know if the information is relevant. Many sites date their stories at the end rather than the top which is almost as useless as no date.
• And while Crabby is on the subject of HuffPo, they pump up their page views with fraudulent links. Click a headline and more often than not, Crabby is taken to a section front page with a dozen stories and she can't find the one she meant to read.
• Too many video advertisements start playing when the page opens often blaring loud enough to make Crabby deaf.
• Websites are filled with so much third-party crap that they almost never load. Crabby can see the name of ad servers and other sites at the bottom of her browser that take up to a full minute to load or, when they are down, hang indefinitely without the page loading. Crabby doesn't wait around anymore.
• And, Crabby finds it unnerving to see ads for Maine businesses or Maine politicking on most of the big-name sites she visits. She knows privacy is non-existent, but there has been a large uptick recently in personalized ads and Crabby dislikes being watched so closely – or, at least, knowing about it so blatantly.
• Even though she has a whiz-bang laptop that's only a year old with a couple of gigs of memory and a cable connection, Crabby's browsing has slowed to a relative crawl. She has no way to prove it, but her big-name ISP has been selling “turbo” for the past year and Crabby suspects it is slowing connection speeds to customers who don't spring for the additional $10 a month.
Crabby Old Lady was in on the beginning of commercial internet. She and her colleagues at her website and others who helped pioneer it worked hard to create ways to navigate, ease reading on a screen, incorporate images and video that would enhance, not detract, the user experience, establish default techniques so readers know what to expect and oh, by the way, keep them coming back which is the goal of any commercial site.
Now, website owners and producers appear to have forgotten the basics. They are so sloppy that Crabby runs into half a dozen links a day – on major websites - that don't go to the correct stories, go to a blank page or do nothing at all.
The web these days is like being in a state of constant tension; will it work this time? Will Crabby be able to read this story without interruption? She isn't sticking around to find out anymore.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lyn Burnstine: Relationships