Our Blog

August 05, 2016 By Barry Bright

TeamUSA.org Misses Mark for Breaking the Back Button

Usability Faux Pas Keeps Olympic Website From Winning Website Gold

My Patriotic Parable

I can almost hear the trumpets blaring, feel the vibrations of an ecstatic crowd, and glimpse the triumphant amber of the Olympic torch promenading towards those familiar five rings.

It’s that time again. For a few weeks the entire country is united by one team - Team USA.

But my recent visit to TeamUSA.org was not a gold medal winning experience. That’s right.

As I was trying to get more acquainted with our beloved athletes on TeamUSA.org, the site committed one of the biggest usability crimes:

TeamUSA.org broke the back button.

Click On An Athlete and Get a New Tab for Free!
…No, thanks.

As I was scanning through the list of athletes on the site, I paused on the Equestrian Team to learn more about the Olympians in my local area of South Eastern, PA.

I clicked on the picture of Phillip Dutton. This is when the egregious usability faux pas struck!

Instead of opening Dutton’s bio in the same window like expected, the site opened up a new tab.

This is a usability problem! Now that the new page was opened in a new tab, the back button was broken.

By forcing the link to open in a new window, TeamUSA.org:

  • Took away my ability to rewind to the previous page using the back button

  • Created clutter in my window with a new tab for each athlete bio

Broken Back Button: Gold Medal in User Frustration

The Back Button is beloved and used a lot by site visitors. For me, I just wanted to click “back” to see the full list of athletes. But I soon realized this didn’t work!

By forcing links to open in a new window, TeamUSA.org has broken an important function for many users and caused frustration. Not only that, they created clutter!

Creating Clutter: Athletes Dominated My Tabs

By opening a new tab for each athlete, TeamUSA.org conquered my browser window. With my natural desire to learn about all of our athletes, my tabs were soon out of control!

Here’s a bird’s-eye-view of what learning about the 22 male and female athletes on the basketball team looks like.

I know they’re tall, but they should never take up that much space in my browser.

Silver Usability Medal for Team USA

Unfortunately, TeamUSA.org does not win the Usability Gold for this crucial usability error.

But we hope our USA athletes in RIO can taste the victory and feel the red, white, and blue flapping in the wind!

Be a Usability Olympian: Take a look at your website, and make sure you are not forcing links to open in a new tab and breaking the back buttons before heading out to the games. If your website is in tiptop shape, it will soar across the finish line in true Olympic glory.

Get More Bright Ideas

Improve your website & online marketing strategy with resources, tips, and insights delivered to your inbox every 2 weeks.

Subscribe to the Bright Orange Thread Content Library today for instant access to these resources!

Sign up today!