So, you want to irritate your website visitors? You say you want to provide a lousy experience for them and practically guarantee they never return? Here are 5 ways to make it happen.

1. Make your off-site links open in a new window.
At one time, this was “convetional wisdom” for websites. The idea is you want people to remain on your site as long as possible, so if you link to an outside site, open that link in a new window, and thereby leave your website alive in the previous window.

That line of thinking is so Web 1.0. The reality is people will leave your site whether you want them to or not. Methods to trap them or keep them there just irritate them. Let them have the option to open links in a new window (or new tab for us Firefox users) if they choose.

As for blogs, some people go so far as to say the best blogs send their visitors away. Kevin O’Keefe, for instance, writes this:

“Some of the best blogs are what Buzz Bruggeman describes as intelligence agents. They post what they believe would be of interest to their target audience. Look at Steve Rubel’s Micro Persuasion or Dave Winer’s Scripting News. Read their blogs. They cover the globe for their readers by sharing via links what they read and hear. Mixed in you’ll get their strong commentary.”

2. Throw a pop-up box in front of me within 5 seconds of landing on your site.
Have you heard the term “pop-up blocker” before? There’s a reason people want to BLOCK pop-up boxes. They’re irritating. It’s like walking into a grocery store, and as soon as you do, an obnoxious clerk jumps in your face trying to sell you their latest brand of toilet bowl cleaner. He gets your attention, sure, but you’d rather punch him in the head than buy something from him. Websites are the same way. It doesn’t matter if you’re popping up ads, a newsletter sign-up box, photos of your kids or whatever. Pop-ups are irritating. Just don’t do it.

3. Create a cool, trendy Flash-driven site that takes more than 5 seconds to load and/or opens in a new window.
No offense to Flash developers, but most Flash-based sites are the ultimate in pretentiousness. They’re like buying the fancy sports car just to buff up your image. Flash sites are typically more about the site and/or company than they are about me the user. They usually take an inordinate amount if time to load, and if they have to open in a new window … well refer to number 1 above.

4. Make me try to figure out who you are and/or what your site is about. Bloggers are especially notorious for this. When I arrive on a site for the first time, I want to know one thing. What’s here that can improve my life? Unless I can figure that out within 5-10 seconds, I get irritated, and I leave. If it’s a blog, I want to know who the writer is. A picture would be nice, although a simple “about me” page will suffice.

5. Use an opening headline laced with hyperbole and ridiculous promises. Like this one:

“Discover the Amazing Scientific Breakthrough that Leads to Overnight Riches.”

I respect good copywriters for their ability to clearly and quickly communicate the value of a product or service without hype and/or BS. To this day, one of the best headlines I’ve seen on a website is for a product called Blinksale.

“The easiest way to send invoices online.”

Some may argue the word “easiest” is hype, yet for some reason, it’s believable to me as it’s used here.

I have to confess, in fairness, these are the things that irritate me about blogs and websites. Perhaps the best thing to do is ask your visitors what irritates them about blogs or websites. With any luck, you’re not doing any of them.

By the way, what irritates you about blogs and websites?