4. Socked with boring stock images
Let me be the first to admit that I've used some pretty boring, cliche stock images in the past. Can I use the excuse of ignorance?
That stock image of someone standing on a mountain signifying triumph? Guilty.
The photo of a carefully arranged desk with the Moleskine notebook, glasses, and coffee cup to symbolize the life of a freelancer? Also guilty.
Stock images can be a quick fix. Do a search on your favorite royalty-free image site and pick whatever comes up first. Bam. Done. But what seems like an easy solution can be a head-first dive into Snoresville.
Stock images bludgeon us with their blandness. Nondescript office workers with facial gestures as natural as saccharine. Phony boardrooms and staged handshakes. Immaculate workspaces free from coffee stains, Kleenex, and candy wrappers. They represent an idealized version of reality, not unlike the display rooms at IKEA. Shiny surfaces sans substance.
All stock images aren’t necessarily a bad choice, but their overuse lessens the impact. When choosing a stock photo, ask how it makes you feel. If the answer is that the photo fills you with a hollow, existential dread, you can probably do better.
5. Trampled by terrible typography
How do you differentiate your blocks of content? You could go the conventional route and use header tags and different font sizes. Or, you could be a rebel and use a bunch of different font types. I mean, everyone loves a good buffet — why not fill your design with a smorgasbord of font faces?
Most designers live by the golden rule of no more than two fonts in any given design. Don’t be a typography terrorist and throw every typeface you can get your hands on into a design. Too many fonts is a rookie mistake. But the more you learn about font types and the right applications, the better designer you’ll be.
And the more you know, the more you can endear yourself to other snooty designers with inside jokes. You think your quip about Comic Sans will win them over? That’s just low-hanging fruit. Like a comedian telling a joke about Nickelback at an open mic. We’ve all heard it before.
And besides, any free-thinking designer will tell you that Comic Sans does have practical applications. But it takes a true typography afficanado to make jokes at the expense of Papyrus, Calibri, or Times New Roman. But what about Helvetica? You may be wondering. Can this classic font also be a topic of ridicule?
Oh, you still have so much to learn.
6. Nagged by newsletter sign ups
Websites shouldn’t shove a newsletter signup form at you immediately. It's like showing up for a first date and getting asked about Valentine’s plans before you can sit down. Mind if we get to know each other a little before I commit to your newsletter or a high-pressure Hallmark holiday?
We know, we know — you’ve got analytics that show signup requests are effective. They’re still annoying.
7. Jacked by scroll jacking
Why let someone navigate in a familiar way when you could create a unique, frustrating experience? Imagine you walk into an elevator, and instead of an array of familiar circular buttons, there's just a weird dude who makes you solve a riddle before you can choose your floor. Most of us would opt for the stairs. Don’t make the navigation on your site a puzzle.
Maybe you think scroll bars were made to be broken. So sure, go ahead and inactivate yours. Let’s see that novel approach to navigation, you scroll-jacking sicko.
Some designers get creative without destroying a person’s will to live. But most scroll jackers are like mad scientists, messing with the natural laws of a browser’s nature. Unleashing a monster upon those of us not ready to deal with a navigation nightmare.
There are many web practices out there that grate our nerves. So when those popups keep ... popping up, when you’re inflicted with a background video as shaky as the first Cloverfield movie, and when you’re looking at a website whose color palette constitutes torture, just remember there’s only so much in this world we can control.
Relax, drink some chamomile tea, and reflect on everything good. And the rage you feel at the sound of your coworker chomping on carrot sticks? You might want to work on that, too.