10 website “icks” that turn us off


We asked the studio to share the shallowest, brightest, yet unsettling true icks that they've found online.

Icks, we all have them. If you think you don’t, I don’t trust you. You’re too nice.

When, not if, you find yourself on TikTok, you may have come across people declaring the oddities which kill the romantic spark with that person they’re dating. Spoiler: they’re usually quite irrational but for some reason make total sense. Nevertheless some of them are daft - “When they lose their footing as the tube starts moving” - and some are just downright cruel - “When they have to repeat themselves in a group because nobody heard them.” Ouch.

"Ick /ɪk/ Used to express disgust"

Whether or not an ick aligns with your moral compass, I’m all for the subjectivity of human experience. At Yoyo, we endeavour to put users and their unique perspectives at the heart of our experiences and, if we didn’t empathise with and design for your customers’ wants, needs and expectations, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs. Take a second; I hope you noticed that bumbling segue into website-relevant content… we got there in the end.

With this trend sweeping the world wide web we decided it would be a shame not to get involved. We’re not that into judging others for simply being themselves, though; so we asked the agency what gives them the ick about digital experiences to make it a bit more Yoyo. The result; a list of pet peeves that Yoyo-ers have experienced online which make them put their head in their hands, shout at their laptops, or smash that back button. Although some might seem irrational at first glance, we’ve given some thought about just how these icks have wandered into the darkness of website no-nos with little promise of returning. 

When a website auto-plays videos with the sound on

Right, this is a good one to kick us off. If you’ve ever been in the library, on the train or in the office, even, and your laptop spontaneously transforms into a foghorn you’ll know what this Yoyo-er is on about. 

That said, there are plenty of pros to autoplaying videos. If your goal is to grab your audiences’ attention when they first land on your site, for example, then video is great. With this in mind there are certain occasions when it is appropriate - context is key. It also depends on how you want to use this type of media. When it comes to accessibility, if your site auto-plays a video which lasts longer than 3 seconds you are required to provide functionality to stop or mute it if you want to achieve at least W3 Level A compliance

It appears as though this ick has the potential to have a tangible impact on your user experience. So perhaps it’s worth noting this one down!

When you are spammed with pop-ups as soon as you land on a site

Pop-ups, who honestly likes them? They’re like that old bloke in a trench coat outside Charing Cross station (don’t ask - it was traumatic). This one cropped up a couple times amongst the Yoyo team, but a special mention goes out to the popups that stop you from browsing or reading the rest of that article before you’ve even begun. 

The marketing team might like them because they’re an easy way to offer discounts, encourage sign ups and make announcements, but do they improve the user experience? In our opinion, not really. Users are incredibly likely to scramble to close a pop up without engaging at all.

If you want to use pop ups, consider when they appear, who you are talking to, and make sure to keep your ask succinct. For instance, it makes more sense to chance your arm with a pop up after a user has spent a couple of minutes on your site; when you’ve personalised the message based on content, and you’re not looking for reams of personal information.

Here's a great example of popup overload on Best Buy's site found by NN/g.

When a site uses Corporate Memphis illustrations or stock photography

Thank you, Anon Yoyo-er. Let’s keep this one short and sweet. If you want your brand and digital experiences to stand out from the crowd, you’re going to need to try harder than settling for a popular illustration library or using images from the top row of search results on Shutterstock. Done.

Your users have seen it all before. Anon Yoyo-er would know, they’re an expert.

Seen these guys before?

When a site’s content is gated

Ok, I can keep this one even shorter. It’s a pain but this Yoyo-er is just salty… Nothing in this life is free. Unless you speak to a Developer and find out how to get around that big gate and over the moat without raising an alarm. Who said that?!

When my laptop can’t handle a site’s content

Now this one I’m sure we can all relate to. You’ve landed on a site and the video won’t load or your laptop sounds like it’s about to take-off. Take 3D renders for example - rocket fuel! 

Whilst this one is icky as, there are some real consequences for poor website performance. You only have to do a quick Google search to see how milliseconds can make or break millions in terms of revenue for your business.

We’d also recommend taking a look at Web Vitals to understand how you can optimise your site’s performance and, as a result, the User Experience.

With a 0.1s improvement in site speed across four specific site speed metrics we observed that retail consumers spent 9.2% more.

The Drum

When platforms don’t make it easy for you to simply copy URL links

This one’s nice and niche. Niche enough to find its way to be immortalised in Hall of Icks but relatable enough for us to nod our heads in agreement.

Ever tried to share a lamp with your flatmate on Facebook marketplace? They obviously don’t want you to leave Facebook or would rather you at least hop over to another corner of the Meta ecosystem, but there are approximately 3 clicks involved if you want to grab the elusive URL. 

I can imagine this is even more frustrating for a Yoyo-er if they find themselves sharing content on the daily. This sounds like a good candidate for the dark pattern list, too.

When a site is littered with ads

Yuck, ads. As I’ve already mentioned, nothing in life is free; especially when it comes to digital. If you’re not buying something, your attention is the product being sold. Sometimes display ads are great if they help you find the perfect Christmas gift but that’s rare and, more often than not, they ad (pun absolutely intended) to your users’ cognitive load, distract them from the main content and evidently tarnish their experience. 

Users just want to find out how to make a pumpkin soup from their old jack-o’-lanterns, not have to scroll through stacks of ads, let alone the keyword stuffing.

When you can tell a site is templated

This Yoyo-er is adamant that there is a time and place for templates and I think we would all agree. There’s little more jarring than a template that forces a brand to shoe-horn content into components which aren’t tailored to the contents’ and users’ needs. 

If you’re keen to find out more about the pros and cons of templated websites or bespoke builds, here’s everything you need to know.

When a site has poor colour contrast

I was expecting irrational icks when I opened the floor to the agency, but this one makes total sense. This Yoyo-er is even giving each site 100 extra points if a site’s inline text links have poor colour contrast (P.S. that’s not a good thing).

It goes without saying that accessibility should be at the forefront of your design process. If it isn’t, you run the risk of excluding members of your target audience - I’d hate to know how that correlates to your brand’s positioning and bottom line <insert :grimacing: emoji>.

When websites ask to use my location or send me notifications without telling me why

This one is borderline creepy. Nearly up there with Dahmer asking you for one more whisky and coke. Ok, I wouldn’t go that far but you can see where this Yoyo-er is coming from. These browser pop-ups not only interrupt the user experience of your site but can negatively affect the level of trust you instil in your audience. 

Think twice before asking your users for personal information without a clear and obvious reason why. You might scare them off.

Jokes aside, icks are evidently real; even when it comes to websites. Be aware and be sure to have a chat with those whose job it is to design and build experiences with impact!