Julian Grainger

Head of SEO at Unique

Usability errors or just lazy?

Every now and then as the person responsible for what goes on a website you miss something and think doh!

So when I do this I make myself feel better by visiting known errors on bigger websites to see if they’ve been fixed. Here are my top three.

(Why top 3? The problem with these are errors around engagement. All they have to do is seal the deal and they have a committed user forever. But they blow it.)

1. How to lose an interested customer

Website: www.stuff.co.nz

Example: Add to portfolio button

“You need to be logged in to get to this page” is fine but WHERE?

  • The log in on the top right is too small and above my field of vision. It took me too long to see it.
  • I’m also new to this part of the website and I presume I need to join first. Where do I do that?
  • The worst part about this is that they had me convinced, I was going to get engaged and revisit but too many friction points and a lazy designer or developer or business owner has lost me. How many others?
  • Even worse is that they have the page they’re just too lazy to point the right link to it.

2. How not to become the home page

Website: www.nzherald.co.nz

Example: Make us your home page button

  • Even thinking most people will read past the first paragraph never mind going through to wikipedia to learn what a browser is;  is simply naive.
  • And if they don’t know what a browser is they’re hardly going to know whether they have firefox.
  • Yet another lazy developer who can’t be bothered reading a simple DHTML tutorial.  The simple solution here is to code a button up that automatically detects the browser type and forces the home page.

3. Keeping the conversation, well, gone!

Website: http://www.linkedin.com/

Example: ( … ? ….) Ever tried to keep track of a conversation you have added to on linkedin?

  • So I’ve put up a bit of news or commented on an article on a group. How do I know if there is a response to it? Well keep visiting the thread buddy.
  • Facebook and Twitter alerts people, Linkedin doesn’t. Odd because FB and Twitter threads are generally absurd rubbish and Linkedin has genuinely good information.  I’d like to get alerts.


As an aside, I’m not sure who should be in the gun for these. The designer? Nope. The developer? Nope. Or maybe they’ve all become a bit slack? Nope.

Nope because the fault is that far too many web owners do not look at the behaviour of their users before they do something. And afterward no one thought ‘let’s test this and see if it works!’

I’m starting to see this a lot with communications specialists now as they’ve become to far removed from the other facets of the marketing fraternity. Most couldn’t even describe the customer they are talking to without a full brief. And unfortunately these are the same people who often decide on what goes on the website. Doh!

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