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Top Back Button Offenses?
What causes you to press the back button out of a site?

 6:58 pm on Nov 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

What causes you to press the back button out of a site on your first visit?

1) Slow loading pages. If it's slow on dsl, I'm gone.
2) People who over ride underlining of links.
3) Popups, Popunders, excessively annoying flash ads.
4) Stuff flying around the screen and embedded video.
5) Mass visual noise. Spammy menu systems with 10billion links so you have to dig to find the content.


Most of those can be dealt with by modern browsers with controls.



 10:35 am on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

tedster, those are interesting stats regarding link underlining. I guess people don't realize that there are links on the page otherwise. Novices have a real different viewpoint... I received a panic call from a customer last week ... she said that when she went to her website, she saw her competitor's website instead! It turns out that she was typing her company name in the AOL search field and clicked the first site listed (her company name contains a popular keyword). In fact I've found that many people unknowingly type 'domain.com' in a search engine instead of using their address bar. That's what we're dealing with out there.


 10:35 am on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)


All I have to say is thank god for css (as it won't be a major job). I'll be redesigning I think.


Visit Thailand

 10:36 am on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

I've seen people do that in business meetings and I am looking at them thinking what the **** are you doing!


 11:05 am on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

Have to agree with Tedster on the links thing..I've recently gone "back" to underlining links..(finally dropped a bad habit :))

But then I was watching a novice surfer the other day exploring a site I have under development and they were clicking anywhere and everywhere on the entire page..is this what we're creating? I had to explain to them that generally only underlined things were links..

hmmm a contradiction in itself..

I'm considering setting up a "How to use this site" page on this particular site as it's for a local community and will hopefully attract users a wide range of abilities..

This has been a really interesting thread, but I do think it's not entirely representative Mr & Mrs Joe P.



 11:48 am on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

tedster wrote:

But I say, why make people explore the entire screen with their cursor just to figure out what they can do? Reading online is enough of a challenge without making your visitor grope around.

Sometimes you need to create pages (and more often than not big ones) that are mostly just links. It would not look too attractive if the entire text on the page is underlined.


 2:44 pm on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

underline links belong to the realm of gray backgrounds, purple 30pt h1's and rotating email gifs, surely most people have the savvy to figure out the basic colour coding of links without needing an underline..

btw my pet peev is flash intros, not because they're there but because they're always so completely crap, often hilariously so..

...and has no-one mentioned hit counters yet, wot a complete cod!


 2:56 pm on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

1. Busy backgrounds that make the text impossible to read.
2. Sites that crash my browser or computer. (If only the "back" button still worked!)
3. Sites that can be seen in one browser, but not another.
4. HUGE download times.
5. Flash pages that take forever to download and don't have a "skip intro". (I know this one's been said before, but it bears repeating over and over!)
6. Really oversized text so you feel like you're being yelled at your entire visit.
7. Flash sites that don't let you out of a repeating flash animation. (Especially the ones with really obnoxious music.)
8. Popups and popunders that you wouldn't want your boss to see (drugs, poorn, etc.) (Can't hosts that require popups allow you to restrict the type of popup ads that get associated with your site?!)

And verneerz:
Are there actually still people around who use text only browsers? I will not optimize any of my sites to be "text-only user friendly" .... you might as well forget what internet is and move to Greenland and get in touch with nature.

I don't know about you, but I've got friends out there who are blind. Graphics really aren't an option for them. You may want to take blind folks into consideration when you're programming your graphically-driven website. Unless, of course, you don't want them to buy anything from your (or your clients') websites!


 5:44 am on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

This is veneerz with new user name....
I don't know about you, but I've got friends out there who are blind. Graphics really aren't an option for them. You may want to take blind folks into consideration when you're programming your graphically-driven website. Unless, of course, you don't want them to buy anything from your (or your clients') websites!

You can't be serious? Can you. Don't get wrong, but what exactly is the percentage are blind people out of everybody who buy on the internet? 0.001%?

It is unfortunate that some people are handicapped no question about it, but this politically correct crap has gone a little too damn far.

I think that there should be some kind of a handicapped tax where people should just pay it and government should distribute the funds to accommodate the unfortunate - buy them special programs, assign helpers and such. I for one would be much more willing to pay the tax other than spend countless of hours altering my perfectly well design site to accommodate every possible disability there is on earth.


 6:03 am on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

To emphasize my point a bit, here is the true story:

About a decade ago here in New York City every public bas was replaced with kneeling technology. Every side walk was rebuilt to have a ramp so handicapped could roll up and down.

The amount of money that was spent on this campaign was estimated to be able to provide one aid for every handicapped (not jut in the wheel chair) for 63 years!
Over the course of 63 years these busses will be replaced 10-15 times and sidewalks will be repaired 5-10 times. This is another 600 years of aids..............
That amount of ridiculously spent tax payers money local government could had spent on some sort of a research that would enable the disabled to have wheelchairs that can fly.


 6:51 am on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

surely most people have the savvy to figure out the basic colour coding of links without needing an underline.

You don't need to go with opinion on this. It's easy to do the experiment and work from stats. If something works for your site and visitors, great. But why let a personal opinion limit what your visitors may or may not need?

I'm a firm believer in measuring results, and I've eaten several plates full of my own words in the process.

There's a very good book (and a very good usability motto) called "Don't Make Me Think". We ignore that principle at our peril.


 11:10 pm on Dec 3, 2002 (gmt 0)

ActiveX objects of any kind - that includes flash.

Knowing what an ActiveX object in a site can do, I'm amazed at what people will let onto their machines.

P.S. I'm sometimes suprised at just how restrained the heavy spam pushers really are.


 4:07 am on Dec 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

I agree with radiosky about registering, I hate it. Some times im willing to sign up anyway but they they request address, phone number, fax, age, date of birth, and a bunch of junk they dont need to know. I also hate backround music, backrounds of yellows, greens, and reds. Slow loading also kills me, i was on pcmag.com and damn, those pages are so SLOW. Tip for webmasters: Remove alot of the white space in your html, save bandwidth and keep those pages flying. :)


 2:16 am on Dec 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

I know I'm late dipping in here. I'm glad I went through the entire thread.

My first Impulse was to send the originator a sticky asking the reason why the missing underlined link was offensive. The reason being I use style sheet and the links are decorated. The text are in blue and the others of course black.

I figured he was referring to pages not utilizing CSS, which would really make it annoying, not knowing what is a link. Then again those normally should be in blue.

In the end using CSS makes it easier for the average Joe to understand what is hot or what is not.

I am always open to advice from more experienced individuals, so I'll test one of my more requested page and see the end result.

Incidently this is one of the longest thread I've seen so far. Nice topic.


 4:31 pm on Dec 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

I agree that the most likely offense to cause instant back-buttoning is sending the user to a page that doesn't have the information they were looking for. I'll never understand why some webmasters choose to mask and redirect their deeplinks. Here's some customer looking to buy a dark blue flanged widget and Google has gone to the trouble of sending them directly to the dark blue flanged widget page and then the site redirects them back to the home page automatically. Why on earth? It's like grabbing a customer in front of a display case in the jewelry department and forcibly marching them back to the front entrance.

And registration. Definitely registration.


 5:58 pm on Dec 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

My favorite pet peeve is:

"You must register before viewing this article. The following fields are required:

email address
Mother's maiden name
Pet's name
Income level
Job Title
etc., etc. "

You get the idea.......


 6:02 pm on Dec 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Another site I will never go back to: As I clicked away from the site they sent a popup menu to ask why I left their site. There were several questions. I answered some of them and hit submit. Then they had the nerve to send another popup with "You did not answer all required questions".

Closed the browser after that one!


 9:16 pm on Dec 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Did anyone mention this yet? Forms that give you some field edit error after you click "submit", and when you hit the back arrow some or all of the fields are BLANKED OUT! That's enough to make me go postal.

Plus forms that give you a single message no matter what the error is, e.g. "Please fill in all required fields". Not only that, but the back-end editing of forms sometimes does not match the visual cues, so you're left trying to figure out which field should have been marked with an asterisk.


 9:19 pm on Dec 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Frankly I don't know why people even try to force registration. The data must be virtually unusable. How many times have you just entered "ghjgkkj" or "test@test.com" to get past the field checks?


 9:21 pm on Dec 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Since we're talking about forms, any form that forces me to use a drop down for year or state makes me nuts.


 9:57 pm on Dec 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

Arrrggggghhhh... just got trapped in a disabled back button site. THE MOST ANNOYING OFFENSE ON THE PLANET!


 10:48 pm on Dec 5, 2002 (gmt 0)

For IE try javascript:history.go(-2) in the address bar.


 12:05 am on Dec 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

Forms where they don't specify the format of certain fields (such as date, or telephone numbers), yet pop up a window saying, "Telephone field must be in the XYZ format) *after* the fact. Geez, if you had put those instructions into the form, I would have type it in correctly the 1st time. You get one of these windows for the telephone number, one for the expiration date of your credit card, and one for the actual credit card number. Gee whiz! I'll buy it someplace else!


 5:14 am on Dec 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

>> Is it time for me to rethink some designs? <<

I don't much care if a hyperlink is underlined or not, although the page sometimes looks better if it's not, but I suppose there are some clueless people who wouldn't know what to do without it.


 3:08 am on Dec 16, 2002 (gmt 0)

Commenting on whole thread, lots of points, here goes:

i. NO BACK. The 'not letting you go back thing' - very annoying when you've surfed through 5 sites. However, can't you often get back by repeatedly clicking 'Back' button a million times quickly? Someone mentioned searching again, but doesnt History tell you where you were, pretty much?

ii. SPELLING ERRORS. Someone mentioned these and yes, on a site where the person is either 5 years old or totally illiterate, I wonder why they have bothered to play journalist when they can't even spell. However, on quality sites like mine, the *odd* error creeps in from time-to-time given we update 10 stories per day at peak. But, do *you* ever let w/masters know about errors? We find that people don't and when I find odd mistakes on other sites, I feel pedantic telling them.

iii. POP-UPS where there is not really a close button, its just part of the add that looks like a close button.

iv. COOKIES. What's wrong with them? As a site owner, doesn't my W/Trends stat-tracking depend on them? And my polls, to be more accurate etc.

v. NO RIGHT CLICK. We have this, as we started to find our images and even editorial content on other much lesser sites. Is is a big issue, as you can always open stories up using control N. We appreciate that you can still 'nick images by PrintScreen or get content from the Source Code etc, but it surely puts-off the casual (less experienced) muppets from stealing stuff(like those in point ii.)

vi. SITES NOT ADDING YOU TO MAILING LIST. Oops, guilty! We had a script where server mailed us the details and I added them to a list manually... great, until we had literally 5,000 in one week near the build-up of something. Major 'RSI city', copy and pasting - took weeks, nay months. We now use Sparklist.com outsourced services.

vii. FLASH INTROS that even when you click 'skip', still continue to load for a minute or whatever.

viii. INCOMPATIBILITY WITH BRWOSERS. Sorry, but I think 96% or even 98% of our visitors use IE.

ix. CLEAN UP THE WEB! Yes, get rid of some of the dross out there from the search engines. Can't they ditch sites that haven't been updated for 2 years, so we don't have to suffer 'Dave's Cool A-Team' site, last updated in 1984. Then again, that might actually be quite cool! LOL This would have to debated, but I think it should be and S/E's should do *something*.

x. ARTICLES WITH NO DATE. Someone mentioned Help articles, but also News articles with no date and no date in the main list when you back. Not helpful when you read, "X will be signing books at Borders next month..."

xi. FINALLY - NUMBNUT VISITORS! Okay, so we design our navigation and get people like my brother (continual-newbies as I call them - only use net every now and then) to test. However, when I have Latest News Section box top of Home page, with the first 2 lines of the story and below that it says "Click here to read this story and others like it" and someone e-mails me to say where do I find the story? ARRRGH!

Oh and xii... long forum posts, can't be bothered to read 'em! LOL


 6:33 pm on Dec 16, 2002 (gmt 0)

"can't you often get back by repeatedly clicking 'Back' button a million times quickly?"
You have to be lightning quick for this to work once a JavaScript redirect page is cached. I'm not sure how you do this on a Mac, but try right clicking on your back button, you will see the history and you can jump back as many pages as you want. This works in most versions of IE, NN and Opera.

"Sorry, but I think 96% or even 98% of our visitors use IE."
I hope you've checked your site in other browsers, because that kind of bias usually indicates a problem and that visitors are leaving quickly if they are not using IE.


 1:13 am on Dec 17, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hi GSX, I hadn't considered that they might not be able to get our site in the first place. Then again, surely they must have hit the home page for W/T to register them? I guess I'm saying that if only 5% are having problems, so be it... but obviously, you want 100% to be able to read the site.

But IE has always been a high percentage on our site - perhaps I'm exagerating the figures... got no stat tracking at the moment thanks to Webtrends so I can't check. Maybe a higher percentage of UK users use IE than in the USA?


 10:46 am on Jan 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

something I did not read here yet: sites like

that give me a 403 error when I try

make me really angry. Is it really such a great effort to sort your data and make it accessible via an index.html in each directory? No, I don't click thru whole site.com in order to find what I was looking for.


 9:42 pm on Jan 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

OOh! Arrgggh! Reading this thread has made me soooo mad! You're all exactly right. It is alllll so irritating!

I'm going to go one step further than all of you and reduce my sites to a single, blank page of non-irritating HTML, simply saying "Sorry!"

(In sans serif).

Can any of you advise of the least irritating text size...



 9:50 pm on Jan 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

I would go for Arial 10 myself.


 9:53 pm on Jan 4, 2003 (gmt 0)


Arial 10 - total waste of screen ink.

And I hate all that modern stuff.

Now I'm reeeeeeeally irritated...

(p.s. remind me of the code to make it flash - just for old times' sake)


 10:19 pm on Jan 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>Is it really such a great effort to sort your data and make it accessible via an index.html in each directory?


When filenames are a factor, who needs index.html?

Best is to let spiders get the folder map, but some lurkers can be dangerous...

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