Saturday, 3 April 2010

101 Annoying Things About the Web

Technology, doncha love it? I spend a lot of my working life searching for articles that have appeared in the press – please don't make my job more difficult.

Browser companies, when you update your product, please don’t change some tiny detail just for the sake of it so that everything works slightly differently.

Web and software designers

Get your keyboard shortcuts designed by someone who can touch type.

The Apple key (or whatever it’s called on PC keyboards) should be used for keyboard shortcuts because you can press it with your thumb without taking your fingers off the home keys.

Do not use the standard Mac keyboard shortcuts (apple x, c and v for cut, copy, paste) for any other purpose.

Some of us (in other programs, all day long) use apple left cursor to go back by one word – please do not use this combination to exit a page without warning, losing irrevocably any web page we’ve created, email we’ve written or form we’ve filled in.

Instructions must be on the same page as the form. There’s no point giving a long complicated list of instructions if the user has to move to another page to complete them.

Make all dialogue boxes quittable with Apple W.
Cancellable with Apple .
Unacceptable with Apple N for no.

Newspapers and magazines Please give us a printable version of articles (it’s easier to search and cut-and-paste – and we can search within it without having to search reams of comments at the bottom). (The Guardian has a “read whole article” button.)

The Independent You can’t sort search results by date, newest first, or writer. Search results don’t always give you the name of the writer.

The Daily Mail It requires you to register before posting a comment, but only tells you that *after* you type out your comment and click reply! (via @ianvisits)

The Guardian You can’t include the name of the writer in your search terms (so you can’t search for “Time Team Nancy Banks Smith”).

Newspaper search features When you click on some search boxes, the word “Search” disappears and you can start typing your search terms immediately. With others, the word “search” does not disappear and you end up searching for “searchjoe bloggs”. When you delete this and try to search for “joe bloggs”, the darned thing thinks you MUST want to search for your original term “searchjoe bloggs” and helpfully substitutes this. It can take several tries before you get round its desire to think for you.

The BBC website defaults to OR rather than AND, so if you type in "Time Team Nancy Banks Smith" you get a lot of banking stories, every mention of people called Smith... you get the picture. It's how search engines worked back in the olden days, but even then they usually had an advanced search where you could use Boolean logic. You can get "newest first", but only if you select News and Sport. !!!! Update: the Beeb seems to have taken my advice. Their search page looks improved - we shall see.

Amazon You used to be able to filter results by highest price, lowest, when published etc. Now you have to “Select a department to filter”. But it now throws up a lot of books which do not have the title you are searching for. When I search for the works of Sigmund Freud I don’t want to get Chicken Soup for the Soul. When I search for a children’s book called Candy in the Alps, I don’t want to get Random House All Weather Crossword Omnibus (Newsday) by Stanley Newman, or Photography: A Cultural History by Mary Warner Marien. With all these irrelevant suggestions, there’s no point sorting results by “when published” or “lowest price”. Only when you “select a department” do you see an option called Advanced Search which lets you do a precise search like you could in the olden days (but you still get some irrelevant titles).

Just searched for "bbc goldfinger" and got one result:

'Blerwytirhwng?' the Place of Welsh Pop Music (Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series) by Sarah Hill

If you want to be famous, make sure your name and product are search engine optimised. Change your name from Paul Martin to Benedict Cumberbatch. And don’t write a song called “As”.

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