An angry man smokes a pipe as his wife looks over his shoulder.

Surefire ways to make a website someone will hate

There are a few things every web designer fears—actual phone calls, deadlines, other designers. But the worst is, of course, criticism of any kind. We all know that criticism is easiest to handle when it doesn’t exist, so here is a list of things that would certainly cause someone to hate your work with gratuitous vitriol. Simply avoid making these mistakes and no one will hate your website.

1. Put too much stuff on the screen

How can the user honestly expect to use a site with hundreds of links, ads, images, buttons, headlines, and tabs all crammed into one screen? Space things out a little and make some priority decisions about what should go where. If you try to fit too much on the screen, someone will surely provide a scathing and unsupported critique telling you to make it “clean” and that it’s “too busy.”

2. Hide things behind scrolls and clicks

If you don’t put everything except the copyright date above the fold, someone will hate your site. Scrolling is bad user experience. No one knows to scroll down on webpages to find things, so we need to put important things “right there” when you load the site. Not everything, of course, just everything the client has ever thought of. This includes the copyright date.

If you use progressive disclosure of any kind, someone will hate your site for using “too many clicks.” Clicking is bad user experience. If possible, links should just open automatically when they detect the user has a primal, subconscious instinct to use them.

3. Make it too flashy

Everybody likes aesthetics and all, but some clear-headed individual will see right through the frills to give critiques like “it’s pretty I guess, but just give me something simple that WORKS.” This will be the highest upvoted comment in the history of whatever forum it was posted in.

4. Make it too plain

I’m sure your progressive enhancement philosophies are swell and all, and the design you have probably makes it faster, easier to understand, and more accessible. But it can’t look like that. C’mon it needs something. Anything shy of those big animations they see on apple.com will cause someone to hate your site.

5. Make it different in any way than the old version

The old version was way better. There is no denying this. It was 10 years old for a reason. So why would you change something that worked so well, despite the fact that everyone hated it until they saw the fresh hell of what you just made? They will probably say your site is “not user friendly at all.”*

*This will actually be said about your site in each and every one of these scenarios.

6. Make it the same in any way to the old version

People will immediately notice that all you have really done is re-skinned the old one. They will astutely note that you don’t listen to user feedback, and that maybe you should work with someone who really knows what they are doing (like their cousin who uses WordPress) to help bring the site into the 21st Century. They don’t know what responsive design is, and they certainly didn’t ask for that in the user feedback.

7. Make the user think

Without a doubt, someone who will use your site has heard the phrase “don’t make me think.” For any arbitrary characteristic, they will immediately pull this out to criticize the site. They haven’t read the book, they don’t know what it means, and they don’t want to think about that … Jesus, there you go again.

In fact, “I think, therefore I am.” Not making the user think means not making the user even literally exist. If people use your website, someone will surely hate it. So the only certain way to make a site no one hates is to have no users at all. Give this a try.