Forbes LogoForbes seems to have discovered the very cutting edge of web unusability. Check out the following page:

In Pictures: Google + Apple = ?

I saw this in my Gmail (as a web clip) and clicked through to find the most ridiculous concept in web browsing: an auto-refreshing slideshow that consists of entire-page reloads every 15 seconds with no user input.

Instead of having the decency to split a normal article up into 4 parts (like the New York Times does to inflate their pageview count), they split this slideshow up into 9 “slides”. Each slide is its very own bloated page with a new photo, a few blocks of text, and a whole lot of ads.

Forbes assumes they know your optimal reading spead better than you do and refreshes to the next slide every 15,000 milliseconds. Often times a page and its ads actually take longer to load than the refresh interval so you get to play a fun little game of “try to catch the first sentence”.

The slideshow controls are tiny and get lost in the visual cacophony of the page, but you better learn where they are because your browser’s “Stop” function doesn’t actually work to stop these pages from reloading every 15 seconds.

Since I’ve started writing this piece, the site has reloaded over 20 times and has eaten up over 10MB worth of bandwidth (according to firebug).

Now some of you astute readers might be asking, “wait, 20 times? Didn’t you say there were only 9 slides?” You see Forbes assumes that you liked the ride so much that it doesn’t just stop at the end of the current slideshow – it just keeps going with any other stories it has in the ‘ole merrygoround – The Web Celeb 25 (27 slides worth), Hottest Cellphones 2006, and on and on until you are driven completely insane, your computer crashes, or Forbes run out of ads (the least likely scenario).

After a little while I noticed that there is a 1-page version of this story that you can click to. So I did. And I got this page:

Forbes Interstitial

The page was mocking my previous agony by telling me that “The worst is yet to come!”. After this page was done advertising to me it replaced the slideshow-from-hell version of the article with the find-the-actual-article version of the article.

Forbes adfest

The Hyperion man throws a blackberry in your face and if you happen to find the tiny [close x] button, he turns into a ghost and keeps walking around his ad staring at you while he drinks his coffee. Taunting you. It’s really quite surreal.

I’m just so amazed that a website for such a known brand could be so ridiculously out of touch with any basic concept of usability? Who the hell is responsible for this monstrosity? How can the old-paper dinosaurs expect to compete on the new web with something like this? And why the hell is this page still under their domain? (Yes, I have to put a link condom on it).

So for all the reasons above, wins the first (and last) annual “World Wide Web’s Worst Usability Award” presented by AU Interactive. Steve, you can email me to find out where to pick up the prize.