Common usability problems

A few weeks ago, the guys at Smashing Magazine posted an article that brings up 10 Usability Nightmares You Should Be Aware Of. They also list examples of those usability problems as found on a number of more or less well-known websites.

I agree with most the problems on the list, though I would order them differently. I also think one or two of the examples aren't really that bad. It's easy to find a site that has much more annoying animation that Digital Web does, for instance. Just go to any newspaper site…

Anyway, here are the problems mentioned in the article:

  1. Hidden log-in link
  2. Pop-ups for content presentation
  3. Dragging instead of vertical navigation
  4. Invisible links
  5. Visual noise
  6. Dead end
  7. Content blocks layering upon each other
  8. Dynamic navigation
  9. Drop-Down Menus
  10. Blinking images

Of those issues, the ones that annoy me personally the most are 2, 4, and 9. Especially number 9, drop down menus. They are almost always obtrusively implemented and thoroughly annoying and difficult to use. Especially when I'm travelling and have to use my MacBook Pro's touchpad.

Number 2, pop-ups for content presentation, is another nuisance. If I follow a link on your site, why do you have to open it in a new window? At least be polite enough to warn me about it first.

Number 4, invisible links, really shouldn't exist. Maybe I'm missing something, but I just don't see the point in creating a link only to make it look the same as the surrounding text.

Here are a few more problems that are common and make many websites harder and more annoying to use than they have to be:

  • Low contrast text
  • Small text that can't be resized
  • Small text that can be resized, but doing so causes content to disappear
  • Preventing or breaking normal browser functionality like mouse-wheel scrolling, printing, and bookmarking
  • Over-designed forms

There are many more common usability problems, of course. Which ones are most annoying to you?

Posted on November 5, 2007 in Usability, Accessibility