All of these annoying experiences come from my experience as a former art director for magazines and have since been amplified with my transition to web design and development.
After reading PhotoShelter's image buyer survey I felt compelled to expand upon the insight they've collected to share with photographers.
1. Horizontal Scrolling: May look neat and totally goes against the natural flow of a web page experience. Keep it easy for buyers to scroll.
2. Splash pages: OK, if you've done any research about websites you should know that splash pages are like wearing parachute pants. Dated and quite possibly embarrassing.
Why force (in some cases torture) your visitors with a wait to get to the good stuff?
Get used to the fact that your visitors may not enter through the front door. They can enter through the bedroom window, the skylight, the basement, etc.
Really, that's a good thing!
3. Small, itty bitty type. I love type and I hate type set so small I can barely read or click it.
Make the navigation's clickable area larger or make the type size larger. And, if you have captions with information that is helpful to your visitors (hint, hint) make sure they are able to read it.
There is a huge science behind the selection and use of type. It isn't to be taken lightly. Before you approve any design, do some user testing and get their feedback!
4. Complex navigation. Make it easy for your buyers to navigate your site! This isn't the time to come up with some new way to win a website design contest. Buttons that move around the page are plain annoying.
And, please do not force buyers to guess what they are supposed to click on to accomplish any one task. Make navigation obvious and keep it fixed. Hiding navigation makes moving through a website difficult.
5. Animation overload. If you want to make video games then go make video games.
Floating words and your logo spinning may be a cool programming accomplishment but gratuitous animation just gets in the way.
Keep any animation to a minimum.
6. Itty Bitty Thumbnails. Why on earth make thumbnails so small your visitor is forced to click on every single one to view them at a larger size?
Cut down on the number of images and make them larger or work out a design that makes viewing images larger an easier experience.
7. Density and all reversed out type. I've come across so many websites that are so dense I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be looking at. And then to top it off, all the copy is reversed out -- white on black or even worse yellow or blue on black!
Seriously, you took the time to gather all this content so take more time to present all that content with some white space, copy editing and darker type on a lighter background.
8. Super large images and screens that auto-re-size. It's a mobile world and not everyone wants to carry around a large screen.
Not all photographs demand to be 1024 pixels or larger. Those on smaller screens will have a helluva time viewing your images especially depending on the type of navigation.
If you must go full-screen, give buyers the option if you think taking up more screen real estate will increase your sales. My guess is that it won't so ditch it unless you plan on offering an HD experience like BMW.
9. The assumption that buyers know who and what you do. This happens a lot: gallery of images and no explanation of who or what.
Get a tag line. Promote what you do! Use words to quickly let buyers/visitors know what they can accomplish and/or what they will find. Get it on the home page.
Create action. Engage your visitor. You have less than 8 seconds to encourage your visitor to stay awhile.
10. No search function. Being able to search images is the golden key for any picture editor, researcher or art director who spends hours online looking for images and may also be on deadline.
In PhotoShelter's survey, 81% of buyers search for images beyond the big agencies. 61% use search engines to find new images! 61%!
(Did I mention PhotoShelter's SEO Report?)
11. Music. Please, stop the music. Not only is it irritating for the rest of the cubicle culture environment, it can be downright embarrassing. And worse yet, the music could be just plain awful.
The one exception would be wedding photography sites where music can add dimension to the experience. Still, have an "off" option and keep it tasteful.
12. Loading, loading, still loading. In my case, you have 3 seconds to load or I'm outta there. Ok, maybe five but that's if I really want to see your work.
And the payoff better be good.
Hire a designer who understands usability and features that make it easy for your target audience to accomplish their goals. Hire a designer who can help you identify the actions you want your visitors to accomplish. Hire a designer who isn't designing for other designers.