The 7 most annoying web trends (and how to fix them)

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There’s a lot to love about the web, but it’s not all good. In the decades that have passed since the World Wide Web became mainstream, trends have taken shape that make it a more frustrating place to browse.

Let’s take a look at some of the worst trends on the web today, along with how best to fix them (when possible).

1. Ubiquitous and tiresome cookie consent notice

Cookies are an integral part of the web and are necessary for the proper functioning of many websites. However, due to the widespread presence of third-party cookies that track your web browsing, several government agencies have created laws that dictate how businesses can use your data.

Thanks to laws such as the EU’s GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act, you’ll now see a prompt on virtually every website you visit asking for permission to use cookies. And while it’s good that you have a choice, seeing these prompts on every site, instead of being able to set a global preference in your browser, is annoying.

Worse yet, many of these sites structure their cookie consent forms. Many offer two options: Accept all Where Personalize. By clicking Personalize takes you to a page where you often have to click to reject all non-essential cookies one by one, which is tedious.

Cookie preference form

Every website should just let you click Reject all and move on. Forcing the user to spend more time to avoid being followed is an example of a dark trend online.

To eliminate these prompts, see the I don’t care about the cookies browser extension.

2. Automatically play videos

At one point, websites decided that videos that started without your input were the way of the future. Now, not only do many websites offer auto-play video ads, but they also launch their own videos in a mini-player as soon as you visit a page. Mobile apps that offer video previews, like YouTube and the App Store, do so too.

Autoplay web videos

Autoplay videos are boring, in large part because of their sound. They can be shocking if you are working in a quiet environment and forgot to mute your computer, and they will explode in your ears when you use headphones. If you wanted to watch the video, you would start it yourself. Videos use a lot of bandwidth and can also increase the load on your processor.

Fortunately, Firefox lets you block videos from autoplaying. In Chrome, you can change a site’s permissions to at least mute the sound, but you’ll need to use a Chrome extension to stop the video from playing automatically.

3. Wrong CAPTCHA

CAPTCHAs protect bot websites from using automated processes to leave spam comments, make mass purchases for scalping, and similar bad behavior. But while they’re supposed to let humans through and block bots, CAPTCHAs can also be a pain to complete.

Google’s reCAPTCHA, the most popular version on the web, often lets you skip by simply clicking on a I am not a robot box. This analyzes aspects of your mouse behavior and details of your browser to determine if you are a real person. But sometimes this verification will fail and you will have to fill out the full CAPTCHA.

CAPTCHA example

Usually, this involves selecting all the seats that contain a bus, traffic light, or other common items. But they are difficult to decipher in some cases, thanks to the blurry images. And sometimes the object you need to click has a few pixels in an adjacent square. It is not clear whether you should click on it or not, and if you make a mistake you have to redo a CAPTCHA.

CAPTCHAs need to evolve over time to stay ahead of increasingly sophisticated bots. But when they are so boring for people to complete, they become another barrier to using the web. Aside from browser extensions like guy, there is also no reliable way to bypass them.

4. List of articles spread over several pages

Chances are, you’ve clicked on a list-style post, only to moan when you realize the list isn’t clearly laid out on one page. Instead, each item in the list forces you to click and open a new page. Rather, items can be scattered over a boring carousel view that requires you to find the little one Next button, which is even worse.

Web article Multiple pages

Website list builders should stop putting lists on pages like this. It is clearly designed to increase ad revenue as you have to click more than 10 pages instead of just one, but it’s annoying and will cause people to leave the site.

Some offer a link of the type View this article on one page, but it is not always available.

5. Websites that interfere with normal browser operation

While every website is a little different, you would expect your browser to behave the same on every page. However, there are some sites that are particularly lousy and change elements of the browser which should always be consistent.

For example, many sites use trickery to hijack the Back button. Instead of taking you back to Google so you can check another result, tap Back returns you to a bogus history entry and keeps you on the current page.

Another example is “Scrolljacking”. This happens when scrolling the mouse wheel or trackpad doesn’t move the page naturally as expected. It may feel “heavier”, scroll the page in predetermined chunks, bounce or the like.

Fortunately, most websites have moved away from these tactics (or browsers have been updated to combat them). Legitimate websites should avoid them because they hamper the user experience, but you never know what the smart developers will come up with next.

6. Wrongly created forms

Sample Web Form

Filling out web forms is quite common which is why it is amazing that so many of them are so bad. A common problem is that when entering a password that is not long enough for the site’s requirements, it should immediately tell you that your entry will not work.

However, some forms only verify the data after you submit it, resulting in unnecessary clicks and rework. Even worse is when the entire form resets when you submit it with an error. You should be informed of a minor error up front and not be required to fill in all the boxes again.

To avoid this, try an extension like Typio form recovery to save what you enter in case it gets lost. You can also use your browser’s form filling feature so you don’t have to type in information like your name and address.

7. Excessive and boring ads

No one likes ads, but they are an integral part of the modern web because they allow sites to provide content for free. But there is definitely a line on which ads are okay and not.

Full screen banners that you have to click to make disappear, autoplay videos that take control of the page, shady ads disguised as legitimate download buttons, and more. make browsing the web a worse experience. Fortunately, advertising companies like Google are taking steps to eliminate bad ads to provide a better experience for everyone.

FileHippo download page

You can also play a role. If you see a particularly obnoxious ad on your favorite site, it might not be intentional. Take a screenshot, copy the ad URL, and send it to the site’s contact email address. Hopefully they can let their webmaster know about the problem and report it to Google to prevent it from happening in the future.

The web tends towards certain frustrations

We’ve looked at some of the most aggravating web trends from a user perspective. Some of them are particularly pronounced now, while others have improved over the years. By recognizing them and providing advice on them, we can all make the web a little better place to spend time.

Want to learn more about more interesting trends? You need to know how to explore Google Trends next.


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