We've all seen them: websites that are part of our daily web-surfing routines that have less-than-stellar layouts, designs, or functionality.  Sites like this really get on my nerves, as they often have key information that I can't find elsewhere, so I am forced to look at them on a regular basis.  Here's a list of some of my least favorite major sites on the web and things they can do to instantly improve user experiences.

1.  Technorati.

This is a big one. Let's face it–technorati is the best blog search on the Web.  It's fantastic, that is, when it works.

I do not have the technical knowledge to explain how Technorati should go about achieving these changes, but two adjustments seem absolutely necessary to me.

  • Make it faster:  This is by far the slowest site that I use on the Web.  It really just needs to move faster between clicks.
  • Make it more reliable.  This is another important one.  Technorati.com is completely unreliable.  It often breaks down in the middle of searches, and glitches have become a rule rather than an exception.  For example, at the time of this post, I couldn't access the site at all.

Now let's talk about the Technorati homepage.  Honestly, I really don't care about the "WTF" section or the "featured blogger" section.  I think Technorati should get rid of these extraneous features and focus on making searches easier, more navigable, more customizable, and more full-featured. 

  • On the homepage, give me a list of the top 10 blogs.  Then give me a list of the day's top 10 posts.  Then give me a great search tool. That's really all I need to see on the front page.  Everything else is extra and not really relevant.

2.  ESPN

3.  Sports Illustrated

I'm going to discuss these two together because I think they are experiencing a lot of the same problems.

Both of these sites have homepages that are chaotic.  When I sign on to either of these, I am overwhelmed by the amount of content there, and can't find anything I'm looking for.

  • Less is more.  If I were in charge of restructuring these sites, I would have a large box with a rotating picture or featured video option with 4-5 news headlines.  Add a clickable score ticker, and that would be about it.  Perhaps add a couple of things below the fold.  Think CNET or Yahoo!, two examples of relatively pared-down websites that still have a lot of interesting content.

    Please, get rid of the automatically-playing video on ESPN.  And I don't need to see every blogger, every picture, and every video on the homepage.  Pare down the homepage, and let a good, clear nav do the talking.  Both sites should get rid of the "internet vomit" effect their homepages have.

  • Organization is Key.  I think both of these sites could benefit from introducing a system of tags for organizing content.  This would definitely make searching easier and give users the opportunity read groups of similar articles.

All in all, I think ESPN and SI are suffering from a similar malaise as newspaper websites.  It's as if they feel the need to present all of their content and features immediately on the front page.  But really, this just makes things more difficult from a user's standpoint.  I think that with websites that have to organize a lot of content, less is more.  I would rather not get a headache from looking at your homepage; I know what I'm visiting for, so let me find it on my own.

To its credit, ESPN has a "MyESPN" feature in Beta right now, which is pretty fantastic (think netvibes for sports content).  I am looking forward to trying this out some more and seeing what new features they add to it.  This was a much needed addition to ESPN.com, and pretty much eliminates the need to ever visit the main site.

4.  CNN.com

While SI and ESPN suffer from the problem of having too much content, CNN has the opposite problem.  As one of our nation's leading sources of news, why do I always feel incredibly underwhelmed when I visit this site?  I always feel like they don't have enough articles.  Todd wrote a great post about this back in February.

I think CNN needs more textual content.  Period.  They've got a good site structure that is easy to navigate, but they need more articles.  This nifty graphic from a blogger at DailyKos shows exactly how little content there is on CNN.

What are your online pet peeves?  What sites would you like to see redone?