www.web-design.co.za | anything to do with web design, particularly in South Africa

How to annoy your website visitors in 7 easy steps.

Sarcasm may be the lowest form of wit, but it beats boring, so here goes…

1. Have a pointless splash screen

A splash screen is a page that you make your customers go through before getting to your actual site that contains the navigation to move from page to page.

There are valid reasons for having a splash screen. In certain scenarios, you may need your visitor to select an option before accessing the site. For example, a site may contain different product options based on what country the visitor resides in. Having the visitor choose their country before entering the site would be a VALID use of splash screens. Some sites require that their visitors be of a certain age. Having the visitor supply their birth date before accessing the site would be another VALID reason for having a splash screen.

But, we’re not concerned with that. In order to annoy your visitor straight off the bat, you must have a splash screen that has zero purpose. So what you want to do is have a splash screen with just your logo (preferably badly animated) with an “Enter Site” button. Better yet, lose the button and add the link to the logo instead to create a sense of ambiguity – the customer will wonder “Is this the whole site? Do I have to click on something?”. I once heard someone describe a pointless splash screen such as this as having a dancing bouncer in the doorway of a shopping centre which shoppers would have to dodge to enter the shop.

2. Have immediate Share/Subscribe Pop Ups

Having items pop up while you are trying to read something is always annoying, but especially so when its only purpose is to ask you to Facebook-share and Twitter-tweet this content that you haven’t even had a chance to read yet. Another winner is to have a popup asking the visitor if they would like to subscribe to your newsletter – this popup also needs to be immediately on page-load, so that they don’t even have a chance to make up their mind about what the site is about or if they like it yet. It won’t get you any subscribers, but it’s sure to annoy, and that’s what we’re aiming for.

Then just to up that ante a little, make sure that the close popup button is difficult to locate, or better yet..make a manipulative close link that puts words in your visitor’s mouth, like “No thanks, I want to return to my boring life without your exciting newsletter.”

3. Make them wait

Why optimise your images when you can load the raw image files on your site and make your visitors wait for them to load? Realise that not all visitors have great Internet connections, and do it anyway. Also, if you have a slideshow on the page, ensure that the pictures are not only massive in size, but also that the slideshow has many, many slides.

4. Auto-play your multimedia

Make sure that if you have any video or audio on your site, you have it play automatically. If you want to annoy your web visitor (and you do because you are reading this article), then where possible, also don’t give any option for the visitor to stop or mute said video or audio. A real favourite are those virtual salesmen that start yabbering on as your visitor lands on the page.

5. Distract and Confuse

Don’t put your navigation where the visitor expects to find it. Ideally you also want to have no logical structure to your navigation – this becomes easier to achieve when you have drop downs. With a drop down menu, you can place sub menu items under the wrong main menu options. You should also strive to have a drop down menu even if you only have a handful of pages and therefore don’t really need one.

To heighten your visitor’s anxiety make sure the links don’t look like links, and things that are not links, do look like links. Additionally, you want to have each page very busy with lots of separate elements, each screaming for the same amount of attention. In this way, the visitor won’t know where to look first.

It may be helpful to peruse our article Website Animation – Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should and be sure to NOT follow that sage advice.

6. Have your whole site on one page

Where possible, have your whole site on one scrollable page. The annoyance here is twofold…

Firstly you make the visitor load every single thing on your site, whether they were going to visit each separate page or not. This ensures that you will throttle their Internet connection – also be sure to revisit point 3.

Secondly, if the visitor does find what they were looking for, there’s no point in bookmarking because the bookmark will be created for the whole page. This will force the visitor have to search for that info every time they access the site from their favourites list.

Having all your info on one page instead of targeting your keyphrases with each page will mean that your search rank will likely take a dip, but it’s worth it if you want to irritate your customers.

7. If it ain’t broke, break it

This is such an easy one to achieve, and yet so effective on the anger-scale. Just randomly rename pages every so often without updating the menu properly. This will mean that clients will click a link on your site and be faced with a 404 error instead of what they wanted to see.

You can also just take the address off the link altogether but make sure that there is still an effect when the visitor hovers over the link. This way, they will falsely assume the link is active and may end up clicking the link several times and getting aggressive with their mouse when it doesn’t go anywhere. This is especially effective if you make the link text very inviting. You know what your visitors are ultimately on your website for, so if you give the link the name of the exact thing they are searching for, for example “Our Menu” (if you are a restaurant), then the client will be ESPECIALLY irate when that link goes absolutely nowhere.


We’d love to hear your ways of annoying your website visitors too, so be sure to drop a comment…unless you’re a spammer.


Article by Roxane Lapa of .COZA Web Design

  • Bernadette Gunn

    Beautifully written, hilarious and completely true! Another thing that realty really irritates me is those slide shows that load a whole new page for each picture and I have to sit there waiting for the page to load to see what some child star looks like now that he has grown up.

    • admin

      Exactly! Point 8: Take one article and split it up into a 10 page slideshow just because you can. 🙂

  • This is so funny! I love your writing style. So many websites do no. 2 (oops, pun not intended) and I almost broke my neck nodding in agreement to this: “this popup also needs to be immediately on page-load, so that they don’t even have a chance to make up their mind about what the site is about or if they like it yet.” Haha excellent! Thanks for this!

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