Frustrated by the Web

So I’ve been on vacation for several weeks, trying to keep my mind off things like web development, HTML, accessibility and all that. All in all I think I’ve done pretty well.

However.

Completely staying off the Web for seven weeks is not very practical these days. It makes it so much easier than before to find information related to pretty much everything. Be it making vacation plans, deciding which new game to buy, finding angling tips, or selling the stuff you find lying in the attic, I don’t know how we managed to get by without the Web.

In other words I’ve been using the Web quite a bit, but as a ”user” instead of a web designer or developer. And it is very often a frustrating, even aggravating, experience. So much of the Web suffers badly from serious problems – glaring usability issues, broken links, slow servers, ugly visual design, gratuitous use of Flash or Ajax, barely legible text, confusing navigation, incorrect or outdated information – the list goes on. (Don’t even get me started on accessibility…) How some design decisions are made is completely beyond my understanding.

And for some reason it seems that the sites I come across when looking for information during my time off from work are among the worst of the worst.

I guess most people just bite the bullet and struggle until they manage to find the information they’re looking for or complete the task they were going to carry out. Sometimes I do that too, but more often I can’t take it and just go elsewhere, if that is an option at all.

If the organisation behind the site I’m about to leave is offering something in exchange for money, I sometimes (though definitely not as often as I should) let them know why I decided not to buy their product or pay for their services. I will make an effort to get better at actually doing that, and I encourage you to do the same. Because if we just leave silently they will never know. If you let them know that their site has issues serious enough to scare off some of their potential customers, at least there is a chance that they will fix it. And I am naively hoping that if enough people do that on enough sites, well, the entire Web would get better.

(You can stop laughing now.)

My frustration from using the Web without wearing my web professional hat also reinforces my belief that there is still a massive need for education and advocating best practices, which is what I’ll keep doing here as best I can.

Posted on August 10, 2010 in Usability

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