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Vincent Flanders on bad web design
“Mystery Meat Navigation”: Navigation items that are not clearly labeled, and whose purpose is not apparent until your mouse rolls over them and you can read th epop-up label.
The site for Mxyplyzyk was a particularly irritating example of mystery meat navigation and bad usability. The links on the home page are constantly flashing. Every few flashes the name of what the links represent appears, but the timing is so brief that you barely get a chance to read it. You can find the label again by hovering over the link, but I felt so bombarded by information by the flashing of the other links around it, my memory had zero ability to retain what I’d just read once I moved the mouse away from the rollover. Aside from the completely gratuitous use of Flash and unclear labeling via mystery meat navigation, the site’s usability was further compromised by the quality of the product thumbnails. The thumbnails were very tiny, and have been cropped to such close up views that it is extremely difficult to guess what the product is before clicking for the enlarged picture. I don’t like to waste a lot of time looking at things that don’t interest me, so not being able to get an immediate idea of what something is by the thumbnail usually discourages me from bothering to click and have a closer look. This site is probably losing a portion of their business from people not wanting to waste their time trying to figure things out. (On the other hand, this company is appropriately named, the character Mr. Mxyplyzyk is supposed to be extremely frustrating/irritating, so maybe an element of the site design was intentional….)
If I thought that the flashing mystery meat in Mxyplyzk’s site was frustrating, Pearl Brite managed to out do it. On the front page of this site, the links are not just hidden mystery meat style, but the mystery meant icons bounce around the page. By the time I’ve hovered to reveal what a link contains, it’s moved away from my cursor and I have to track it down again. This is one of the most terrible ideas I’ve ever seen for site navigation. Not to mention, the bouncing bubbles are initially a nice bright blue color. The text which appears with the mouse rollover is white, and would potentially have very nice readable contrast. But when you touch the bubbles to illuminate the text they wash out to a flashing cloudy pale blue, decreasing the contrast drastically when the text appears and making it unnecessarily difficult to read. If the opening page does not completely put you off and one ventures into the site, I found such features as the bouncing bullet points and menu tabs extremely distracting and frustrating to click on as well. This is definitely a site that tries my patience and would discourage me from spending any extra time browsing if I could avoid it.
Flander’s list of 10 worst Websites of 2010.
So far my favorite bad website was the one for the Association of International Glaucoma Societies
I couldn’t stare at the screen without cracking up.
Jakob Nielsen on web design