Web design pet peeves

19 December 2022

A number of design trends I observed in 2022 defy design principles and degrade user experiences. Here are a few:

  • Long animations: If your animation is more than 200-400ms and it takes more time to run than it does for the actual content to load, it’s probably unnecessary. Animations should make loading more bearable, not more pronounced. Not to mention that excessive animations cause lag for many users without hardware acceleration enabled.
  • Smooth scrolling: Scrolling is a universal behavior across a user’s device. Smooth scrolling forces users to abandon controls they’re familiar with. Now their attention is on navigation instead of the content on your page. In some cases, smooth scrolling can even cause motion sickness.
  • Custom cursors: Again, you’re breaking device conventions and drawing attention to the wrong thing. Default cursors are important because they help users distinguish buttons from text boxes from static text, etc.
  • Huge, scattered typography: You might be trying to make any given headline easier to read, but you’re making users invest a ton of physical effort to consume the entirety of a page’s content. Their eyes have to sweep an entire page horizontally to read - 45-70° or more - this is especially bad with big monitors! Additionally, they may have to scroll extensively to reach the bottom, and every time they scroll, they may need to search for the beginning of the text if you’re moving it around the page.
  • Inconsistent scroll direction: You’re trying to spruce up your content teasers, so about halfway down the page, you hijack the scroll direction so that when the user scrolls down, the content actually moves horizontally! Fun! But now your page has no notion of consistent flow or spatial layout, and you’re violating the user’s expectations re: the mapping of their physical movements to movements on the page.