When Social Becomes Nonsense (Design)

During my regular rounds of wandering through Twitter, I clicked on a link to a site that left me literally stunned from bad design. Of course, having watched countless websites come and go over the years, I suppose I should be used to it by now, but this smedio site left me completely dumbstruck. Let me show you the screen shot of the site (I’m not going to give it a link because I just don’t want to subject you to the same visual punishment that I received unnecessarily):

Seriously? This is nonsense.

I get that the site designers want to supply ads and want to supply social tools, but this is just absurd. What you’re seeing is 750 pixels-high worth of silliness.

Let’s do the quick count here: There are 6 facebook buttons. 6! There are 3 twitter buttons. And 7 ads. The only thing on this screen that is actually “content” is the content title and the post meta data. Everything else is visual noise & clutter.

Look, I’m all for providing social sharing tools to your readers, and I’m also all-for monetizing your blog & content. But not when it comes at a cost to the user experience. I won’t even go in to how pedantic and unoriginal the post was; that’s not even what ticked me off about the page. I’m used to reading pointless dribble by bloggers about bloggers – it’s always the same list anyways that I can summarize for you in 3 words: Blog more better.

But going back to the point at hand – social tools in web design should be treated much like sugar in a recipe. Certainly you want to sweeten the end result – by providing helpful tools to both promote your content and also to allow your users to interact in a more dynamic way. But don’t sacrifice readability, function, or even form. Even if the site designers just chopped out the “Do you like this story” and the massive AdWords ad unit preempting the story the page would be readable, functional, and plausibly enjoyable.

That’s it, just wanted to rant. Sites like this cheapen the entire social media & blogging space. Go easy on the sugar.