11(ish) ways to drive customers away from your website

A man despairing, probably of terrible web design. Photo from https://visualhunt.com/re/b00fb6

I asked all the frontend developers at work what were the most annoying things they'd seen on websites. Here's what they said.

I pass no judgement, I'm merely putting them up for interest (although to be honest I totally agree with all of them). They're in no particular order although I've grouped together similar ones for ease of reference. Also I suggested some of them.

If you own a website or have built a website, see if you're guilty of any of these.


  • Popups that appear a few seconds after the page has loaded and obscure the content in order to ask if you want to do something you definitely don't care about e.g. subscribe.
  • An immediate request to enable push notifications through the browser.
  • A request through the browser to disclose your location on a page that has no obvious need for it.
  • Use of emotive language to try to manipulate you, e.g. "We'll be so sad if you don't subscribe" or "No thanks, I don't want to save money".
  • Cookie messages you can't get rid of.


  • Blank pages while a custom font loads.
  • Page content jumping around while assets are loading resulting in you clicking on the wrong thing because the thing you were trying to click on has moved.

Bad content

  • Websites where the homepage doesn't tell you anything about what the website is about.
  • Websites where the most important information (e.g. phone number, prices, opening times) is buried and you have to hunt for it.
  • Pages that don't work without Javascript (one developer has it disabled on their phone to make it load things quicker and save battery).

Poor navigation

  • Anything that only works on hover.
  • Anything that activates on hover too easily so it gets in the way when you move the cursor across the page.
  • Anything that activates on hover but doesn't stick so it disappears again before you've been able to read or click on anything.
  • Scroll jacking i.e. repurposing the standard scrolling actions to do something else.
  • Single page applications that give no indication that something is loading/happening when you click.
  • Tiny click areas that are difficult for even a completely abled person to use.

Bad forms

  • Input validation that is too eager e.g. informs the user that input is invalid before they've finished typing.
  • Rubbish validation in general.
  • Input fields that don't bother trying to load the right keyboard on mobile e.g. telephone, email.

Things done wrong/deception

  • GDPR tracking popups, particularly those that default to letting the company get the data they want, rather than allowing the user to choose.
  • Redirects that don't let you see anything on the site unless you opt in (again often GDPR related).
  • Sites that require personal information to do the thing you want to do that are not on HTTPS or having a certificate that the browser identifies as dodgy.
  • Any site that uses a dark pattern to try and force you to use their native app (hi LinkedIn/Google Mail).

And finally, of course, too many intrusive ads.

(thanks to Hanna for the title)


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