I hate your stupid newspaper web page!

Perhaps the editors at USA Today are funnier than I thought.

In order to have access to most of the things I need to have my job, I need to have a browser open 90% of the time so I can access sharepoint and some other resources. When I have a few minutes between tasks or I want to recharge my batteries, I might scan the headlines or check personal email.

Today I made the mistake of clicking on a link to a USA TODAY online page (it was actually kind of work related — it involved a company that the place I work for does business with).  Something went wrong. USA opened a story about some factory worker who had stabbed his coworker to death and then committed suicide. “Well, that’s not what I wanted,” I thought to myself as I closed the tab.  The browser suddenly froze and then the tab I had just closed popped up again. Assuming it was my mistake, I attempted to close it again.  Suddenly two or three copies of the same story were popping up as fast as I could click. At the point that nine or ten were open and USA was still trying to open more copies of the same story of the knife-man homicide, I finally force-quit.

USA Today really seemed to want me to read that story — to the point that they really don’t seem to want to give me a choice in the matter. I don’t know if it’s my crappy browser or what, but instances of persistant browser tabs that pop up again and again, or tabs that ask me, “Are you sure you want to leave and not read our web page?” when I try to close them seem to be happening more and more often. I know that people who make web pages like USA today are in the business of trying to get as many eyeballs on those pages for as long as possible, but something about their methods (which may or may not involve exploiting a weakness in internet sucksplorer) makes me less likely to want to visit their web page in the future much like a really obnoxious salesman might make me want to buy from anyone but him based on his obnoxious personality.

4 Comments on “I hate your stupid newspaper web page!”

  1. Malcadon says:

    I hate that. That is not how you run a web-page or a business!

    I tend to use ad-ware blockers (I call them “Bouncer Apps”), that also deal with popups like that (as well as removing trackers, and the like).

    And yeah, that headline summons the Romney Campaign is so many ways and on so many levels. =P

  2. Stephan Poag says:

    In that picture, I think they look like Chang and Eng, the famous 'Siamese Twins.'

  3. That is not how you run a web-page or a business!

    Unfortunately, that's exactly how many, many people run a web page or business.

    I've been a web developer since the mid-90s. I can't count how many times I've had to persuade a client to rethink their desire to include a pop-up (or some similarly intrusive functionality) on their site. Like any client, they only cared about how best to get in their users' faces; like any good developer, I had to be the voices of said users. (It wasn't always a pretty battle, and the client's reasoning was often so self-centered, it was amazing. The really amusing part is how innocently the argument was made in many cases. They often couldn't understand why it was a bad practice; it's funny how easily people forget what it's like to be a web user when they're having a site of their own built.) All of my colleagues – no matter where I was working at the time – fought the same battle, just as frequently.

    Unfortunately, as the years passed and the web expanded, designer integrity was overruled (or was just sadly lacking from the get-go) with greater frequency. The reason we have pop-up blockers now is because most business people back a decade or so ago had to have pop-ups, and there was apparently no lack of designers/developers willing to throw user experience to the wind for a buck.

    It's nice to see that the industry hasn't changed. (That would be sarcasm, BTW.) Despite the glaring fact that an entire class of software has been created to minimize business' ability to cross the line when it comes to the user experience, they're still trying to do it (and just as unaware of why it's bad form).

  4. Stephan Poag says:

    Interesting. I can see some clown in the USA Today boardroom talking about how he deserves a bonus because of the increase in average number of page visits, conveniently failing to mention that the number of page visits is up because an ever shrinking number of users are being forced to visit the same page multiple times.

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