Annoys As Designed

An idea whose time should go: Flash video of talking people who overlay the Web site you’re trying to read wherein the people try to sell you what the Web site is selling or, worse, an advertisement overlaying a newspaper’s Web site that’s trying to sell you something from the banner ad. Personally, I find these ads intrusive and distracting, and they’ll drive me from a Web site faster than anything else, including animated gifs with hippos dancing.

But here’s one that provides a teachable moment about what to test in media players.

National Position is apparently a SEO company in LA. It has a bunch of these spokespersons spread over its pages. On its About page, though, we’ve got a very naughty little beaver.

The guy pops up and starts telling me about how good the service is. It claims to be a customer, but in reality, it’s probably one of the stock actors available for these ads. It’s on autoplay:

Set annoyance to autoplay.
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If you’re like me, the first thing you do is click the Pause button to stop it:

There's no pausing him!
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No dice! Perhaps you click Stop to make him stop:

There's no stopping him!
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No, of course not.  And, as you would expect, the mute button does not turn the sound off.

Coupled with the fact that if you click those controls just wrong, it takes you to the company Web site that provides these things, Spokesperson Agency, decorated with its fancy JavaScript error and annoying layover person:

Even a JavaScript error cannot silence the annoyance
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Fortunately, though, the controls worked on the Spokesperson Agency site, so I could silence the layover person.

Not so on the About page, though, so I cannot tell you anything about the preceding company since I didn’t hang around to read it.

When you’re working on your own sites and media players, and hopefully not with annoying people popping over the Web site content to talk directly to you like a commercial, what should you look for?

  • Play button should play the video, disable,  and enable the pause button or change to a pause button.
  • Pause button should pause the video, disable, and enable the play button or change to the play button.
  • Mute button should mute sound and change to represent muteness.
  • Stop button should have some function different from the pause button.  Seriously, folks.  In the olden days of tape recording, each had a distinct reason for existence and use.  If your media player doesn’t need both, stick to a pause button.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a little look at a silly little media player that’s more robust and some of its pitfalls and things to look for.



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