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In the beginning, the Internet was pure and uncorrupted. The only way a website could annoy you was by bombarding you with auto-playing MIDI music, or perhaps one too many dancing baby GIFs.

In 2016, things have taken a tumultuous turn for the worse. In its awkward adolescence, the Internet has evolved to include elements that are clunky, annoy by design, and disrupt the browsing experience.

There are three user experience sins I feel are worse than others. Here’s what they are, and how you can fight them.

Problem #1: The EU Cookie Disclaimer

The European Union is a deeply controversial entity — especially in the UK, where later this month there will be a referendum on whether the country should remain a member of it. I like the EU. It’s a mostly well-intentioned entity, and has the interests of its constituents at heart. However, sometimes it misses the bar. The EU Cookie Directive is a great example of this.

Cookies are an essential part of the Internet What's A Cookie & What Does It Have To Do With My Privacy? [MakeUseOf Explains] What's A Cookie & What Does It Have To Do With My Privacy? [MakeUseOf Explains] Most people know that there are cookies scattered all over the Internet, ready and willing to be eaten up by whoever can find them first. Wait, what? That can’t be right. Yes, there are cookies... Read More . They’re small files which store information about a user. While they can be used for nefarious means What Are Supercookies, and Why Are They Dangerous? What Are Supercookies, and Why Are They Dangerous? Verizon has been fined for tracking customers with a unique identifier header (UIDH), also known as a "supercookie." But what is a supercookie? And why is it worse than a regular cookie? Read More , for the most part, they’re required for websites to work.

The EU’s directive mandates that websites have to gain the consent of users before they serve them cookies, or at least inform them when they’re doing so. While, in principle, this sounds like a good thing, in practice it’s had a terrible impact on the browsing experience, as sites have had to start including distracting pop-ups in order to comply with the law.

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CookiePopup

Few, if any, of these are optimized for the mobile web, and as a result they look horrendous on smartphones and tablets.

Thankfully, there are a number of browser plugins that will block most, but not all, EU cookie notices. The best out-of-the-box solution is “I Don’t Care About Cookies“. It is available for Firefox, Opera, and Google Chrome. Around 90,000 people use this to bring a bit of sanity to their browsing experience.

idontcareaboutcookies

Just install it, and those irritating notices will plague you no more. Beautiful.

Problem #2: HTML5 Location and Notification Popups

The biggest change to the way the web works was made at the end of the 2000s, when the HTML5 standard What Is HTML5, And How Does It Change The Way I Browse? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is HTML5, And How Does It Change The Way I Browse? [MakeUseOf Explains] Over the past few years, you may have heard the term HTML5 every once in a while. Whether you know anything about web development or not, the concept can be somewhat nebulous and confusing. Obviously,... Read More started to reach maturity. HTML5 was more than just an update to the markup language which structures every web page in existence. It allowed developers to natively add previously-unthinkable levels of sophistication and interactivity.

Some of these are awesome. Take Canvas for example. This is an API (Application Programming Interface) What Are APIs, And How Are Open APIs Changing The Internet What Are APIs, And How Are Open APIs Changing The Internet Have you ever wondered how programs on your computer and the websites you visit "talk" to each other? Read More that allows developers to draw and manipulate shapes using code and math. It sounds boring, but this has meant that developers can create games 5+ Impressive Free HTML5 Games You Can Play In Your Browser 5+ Impressive Free HTML5 Games You Can Play In Your Browser HTML5 signifies the evolution of markup language as we know it. Flash games were once the norm when it came to browser-based entertainment, but now thanks to the powerful nature of HTML5 many web applications,... Read More that work on mobile devices, use less computational power and energy, and don’t rely on tools like Flash and Silverlight.

Other APIs do an important job, but have the potential to have a degrading impact on the user experience of a site.

Take the Location API, for example. This tool allows sites to determine where their users are located with a previously-impossible level of precision. Site operators like this, as it allows them to gather data on their users. This can then be used to make the content and the advertising more relevant. But to get the location, the site operator must first gain permission. To do this, they show a pop-up. This distracts from the content being shown, and is incredibly disruptive on mobile devices.

The Notifications API does a similar job. It allows websites to create desktop notifications. These are heavily used on social media sites – like Twitter – and instant messaging applications – like Slack. But much like the Locations API, these can distract from the experience of using a site. Worse, if you’re the type of person who instinctively clicks ‘Okay’ on pop-ups to get rid of them, you could find yourself being deluged with pop-up notifications you don’t want.

NotificationInUse

You can banish these requests by making a couple of modifications to your browser. In Chrome, click Settings, then Advanced Settings. Under Privacy, click Content Settings. Then, under Location check “Do not allow any site to track your physical location“. Below that is Notifications, where you should check “Do not allow any site to show notifications”.

locationnotifications

Once those settings are set, you’ll never be bothered by location and notifications pop-ups ever again.

Problem #3: Newsletter, Email, and App Marketing

Newsletters are awesome. They allow you to catch up with the news, and sites like Hacker News and Reddit, without having to waste hours of your life. What I don’t like is the way they’re foisted on people.

You can be absorbed in an article (I’ve noticed that programming, personal finance, and startup blogs are repeat offenders), only for a massive overlay to appear asking you to sign up to their mailing list. Worse, many replace the ‘Close Window’ button with some passive-aggressive line, like “No, I don’t want to be a better programmer“, “I don’t want to save more money“, or in the case of CNBC, “No thanks, I don’t need today’s most important stocks.”.

CNBCPopup

Some try to get you to “follow” them on Facebook or Twitter.

SocialPopup

Or, your reading experience could be interrupted by them trying to get you to ‘like’ them on Facebook or Twitter, or by asking you to download their app. Quora and Yahoo are both culprits in this respect.

So, how do you deal with these? Well, unfortunately there’s no silver bullet, as there is with the ever-annoying EU cookie warning. There is no plugin you can install that’ll deal with these problems once-and-for-all.

The only real way is to disable JavaScript. In Chrome, you can do this by clicking Settings, and then Show Advanced Settings. Under Content Settings, you’ll see a header that says JavaScript. Check the box that says “Do not allow any site to run JavaScript“.

DisableJavaScript

Almost immediately, you’ll notice that the sites you’re on will start loading faster. Your browser will consume fewer resources, and your computer will be cooler to touch. It’s incredible how taxing simple web browsing can be.

The downside is that most websites won’t work as they usually do so. The fact is, the majority of websites use JavaScript in some form What is JavaScript, And Can the Internet Exist Without It? What is JavaScript, And Can the Internet Exist Without It? JavaScript is one of those things many take for granted. Everybody uses it. Read More . By disabling it, you break it. It’s for this reason why James Bruce described the JavaScript-blocking plugin NoScript as part of a ‘trifecta of evil’ AdBlock, NoScript & Ghostery - The Trifecta Of Evil AdBlock, NoScript & Ghostery - The Trifecta Of Evil Over the past few months, I've been contacted by a good number of readers who have had problems downloading our guides, or why they can't see the login buttons or comments not loading; and in... Read More .

It Doesn’t Stop There

Of course, this wasn’t an exhaustive list. There are other things about the Internet that many of us aren’t too keen on. Although advertising is a necessary part of the Internet, poorly-policed advertising networks have brought us malvertising. Increased competition for our attention has brought us clickbait. But even at their worst, they still don’t overshadow the awesomeness that the Internet provides.

What’s your biggest frustration with the everyday browsing experience? Have you been able to solve it? Tell me in the comments below.

  1. A41202813GMAIL ..
    June 28, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    Loading A Single Page That Uses As Much As 800MB Of RAM.

    ---

    There Are Other Annoyances, But I Am Only Talking About The Most Recent I Got.

    • Matthew Hughes
      June 28, 2016 at 10:44 pm

      Yeah, that's insane. I wonder how much of that is a problem with Chrome being - generally speaking - quite badly built. RAM consumption on Opera and Firefox is nowhere near as big.

      • A41202813GMAIL ..
        June 29, 2016 at 1:51 am

        ...But, I Am Not Using CHROME - I Am Using OPERA15+.

        I Use An Extension That Measures The Free RAM I Still Have.

        Code ID - GAODMENEKCCDOMEICDOLDGDPCEMLGIAG

        Thank You For Responding.

        • Matthew Hughes
          June 29, 2016 at 11:14 am

          Um, why?

          Opera 15 is about three years old. It's probably got a dozen or more unpatched security vulns, and I imagine a sizable portion of the new stuff added to the HTML5 spec isn't there.

          There's honestly no rational reason why you'd want to use a browser that's three years old. Just upgrade it. I'm using the latest Opera, and it's zippy af.

        • A41202813GMAIL ..
          June 29, 2016 at 6:21 pm

          I Did Not Say I Was Using OPERA15, I Said I Was Using OPERA15(+).

          OPERA Has 2 Completely Different Browsers And Their Respective Extensions Are Also Incompatible:

          A - OPERA15- ( The Old One ) Was Abandoned For Almost 2 Years, But Got A New Update Recently - I Stopped Using It Long Ago,

          B - OPERA15+ ( The New One ) Is The Version You Are Using.

          You Got Something Right, Because I Am Not Using Version 38 - I Am Using Version 36, The Last Version Allowed For XP.

          Thank You.

  2. Bob
    June 23, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Yep. Mostly click-bait sites, but there are, as you pointed out, a few notable exceptions.

  3. Jon
    June 22, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    Youtube takedowns

    • Matthew Hughes
      June 23, 2016 at 9:37 am

      Frivolous ones? Sure.

  4. sam66
    June 22, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    How about that fragging flash crippling the browser? it is easy to disable, your millage would vary according to your browser.

    • Matthew Hughes
      June 23, 2016 at 9:36 am

      I long for the day when Flash is regarded to be as archaic as ActiveX, and isn't even developed any more.

  5. David
    June 22, 2016 at 11:25 am

    Auto playing video ads.

    • Matthew Hughes
      June 23, 2016 at 8:23 am

      Ugh, I hate those.

  6. Bob
    June 22, 2016 at 10:20 am

    Sites that force you to click through multiple pages to read a list or short post so they can get more ad impressions. Especially those that don't offer a "view as a single page" option.

    • Matthew Hughes
      June 23, 2016 at 9:36 am

      Yeah. Sites that do that are typically the definition of "low quality", with some exceptions - Business Insider, IBTimes, the BBC...

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