The 15 Worst User Experience Design Mistakes Ever

It is just strange that there are still so many pages with horrible webdesign online. Well, at least it inspired me to publish a list of my “favourite” (or better said: “most annoying”) user experience nightmares. Please also check the references to other webdesign-experienced bloggers that have a similar point of view:

  1. Bad contrast of text and background

    good contrast - bad contrast

    good contrast - bad contrast

    Unsolicited eyesight tests will not really amuse the users! Especially pay attention with text on backgrounds with image! If the image has to many different colours you will have to either soften the contrast of the background or use fonts with frame.

    BTW: Black text on white background is still up to date, if you want to be on the safe side – more at

  2. Frames

    Framesets are just a funny thing to do…  – but an absolutely nightmare for Usability and SEO. Learn more at Sameer Chavan’s blog

  3. Heavy video intros

    That is exactly what web users are looking for… slowly loading fancy intro videos, especially if there is no skip button… – Web users are always in a hurry and unexpected video-surprises might lead to loose the visitor. see more at

  4. Hidden Sign in

    Your users need to sign in to perform actions in my site? If they really want to sign in they do not mind searching the sign in link… – Users will very likely not like to search for this buttons | see more about mistakes related to registration process at

  5. Tiny clickable areas

    Don´t save space at the wrong place! – more at

  6. PDF for Online reading

    PDFs are great! Why should I only use them for downloads, if I can replace major content parts with it? – Please only use it for content that is supposed to be downloaded or printed by the user, because PDF breaks the flow of the web users. See the older study at that still is relevant.

  7. Pop-ups for content

    Why load a new page or use AJAX, if I can just use a Pop-up? – Pop-ups are just annoying and most browsers anyway just block pop-ups by default…

  8. Unstructured, unscannable texts

    Why use bullet points, bold text etc. to structure your text, if you can just put big fat and boring text blocks? – If users can´t scan your website quickly they won´t read it.

  9. Over-loaded pages

    More is always better, so the more stuff I can put on a website the better it is… – Your website usability will suffer if your site contains lots of useless features and contents that distract the users.

  10. Horizontal scroll bar

    Why should I care about width if I can have a horizontal scroll bar? – It is just unconfortable to scroll horizontal and makes it very hard to read your content. Usability fail!

  11. Blinking text

    It is very important, so it has to blink! – Blinking text gets very quickly on user´s nerves, doesn´t it? (Sorry for the blinking text, that was just for demo purpose)

  12. Forcing users to switch their browser

    I don´t want to take care about all Browsers and i why not use superfancy special tags that only my favorite browser understands? – Imagine a street with a sign “only cars by BMW allowed”.

  13. Too many and too big pictures used

    I just love pics! – But too many pics reduce the speed of the site and can distract the users.

  14. Unnecessary use of animated gifs, flash or Java Applets

    Yep, I know how to do and implement this in websites, so why not show it as much as i can? – Please only add this if there is no other way to do it, don´t add unnecessary komplexity to your site.

  15. “Mysterious” link texts

    People like surprises… – Users should have an idea where the link goes and search engines take a look at the keywords used in the anchor text.

Please let me know what your most annoying usability mistakes are and leave a comment.

Reading is silver, sharing is gold!


  1. Strange? Not really. Good, even great websites are the exception. Most websites fit this description of horrible. My own website sucks. I know, because I have found my site listed on some of those opinionated “Check out these suckie websites…” websites. Because of that, I did not include my site in the Website field, but the info is there for your entertainment in the hidden Mail field. Well…it’s a little less suckie than previous versions. Still has a fair amount of suckitude, like slow, rreeaallllyy ssslllooowww.

    How could I have a poor opinion of my own site, yet have no way to better it? Follow me as I explain…

    Each level of web design adds a level of complexity (uncertainty/ignorance/lack of education/lack of confidence) that impedes my progress of bettering my site. And each level seems completely unrelated to each other.

    For me, HTML was easy enough. When my site started, I remember how excited I got when I learned about the tag, as a way to help separate sections of the page. I must have put 100 ‘s in that page! (It was 1995-ish…cut me some slack!)

    Then I left the internet stuff for a long time and only recently got back into it.

    I think I’ve finally got CSS figured out. Sort of.

    Now I’m learning JavaScript (or just jQuery/jQueryUI), then PHP, then maybe Ruby, then maybe, maybe some CMS like Joomla, then maybe, maybe, maybe something else.

    I just don’t know what to do next. Properly, that is. The only web “Guru” I know (and let me tell you, he is one heck of programmer/designer/developer/all-in-one type), is 100% and I don’t want anything to do with that. He pays top money for his development software, and I’m a freeware kinda guy;-)

    I’m not a natural at this stuff. It takes a while to sink in. On line documentation, help forums, etc are great and all, but not what I need to learn. I need to watch first. I don’t have that.

    I Google a subject, like jQuery, to see what’s out there. I go to the official sites to get the documentation and release notes. Reads like stereo instructions from another world, let me tell you! Then I subscribe to the Feeds of the top sites/blogs devoted to the subject. But the only thing I get from these feeds are opinions and an occasional demo. More demos, please!!!

    There is no shortage of varying opinions about what is the next step, what is the better software, etc. If all the top bloggers could put their heads together and lay out a proper roadmap, I’d appreciate it.

    Wait, that’s not possible. Not only are the so-called standards in constant flux, they are updated as often. Any opinion today is obsolete tomorrow.

    I do the best I can, but in the end, I will always be behind. I guess I’m just strange.

  2. Silly me! I put less-than/greater-than characters in my reply. Paragraph 4 should have read…

    For me, HTML was easy enough. When my site started, I remember how excited I got when I learned about the hr tag, as a way to help separate sections of the page. I must have put 100 hr’s in that page! (It was 1995-ish…cut me some slack!)

    Sorry for being so verbose! Not a fan of Twitter, obviously.

  3. @brian: First of all: Congratulations for the longest blog comment of all times! :-)

    I took a quick look at your site and I think it is not that bad as you say. But some things confused me a bit with the googlemap you use: There are tons of icons on it that are furthermore overlapping. I would consider joining them together to one icon by state in the higher zoom levels. It should say something like “68 locations in Texas”. After click user then should go to the deeper zoom level with Texas zentralised and your small locations icons.
    I hope that was a helpful tip for you 😉


  4. These are all very good points in my mind. I especially agree with the hidden sign in forms. This seems to be the trend lately but we’ll see what happens. :)

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