+16  A: 

Since I expect it will have lot of photos, optimizing image loading times will be the biggest help.

James Curran
As a corollary, you probably will not need Alt tags on your photos
Jeremy Frey
@Jeremy, but, but, what about the blind people?
+14  A: 

I don't understand what the adult part of it has got to do with it? You can just use regular usability practices. I suppose you could safely assume your users aren't blind though.

Tom Ritter
Although your sight might make them go blind!
Martin Beckett
the adult apart has nothing to do it with he is just rep farming
The idea behind usability testing is that you use random people 'plucked from the street'. Now if you happen to ask someone like jmein to usability test your site, then you will have a major lawsuit on your hands...
Patrick Huizinga
I always thought usability testing was testing with users the site is targeting, hence the need for adult-oriented testers. And yes, adult-oriented sites will probably have different usability features than standard sites.
Maybe it's because those types of sites have traditionally eschewed UX for profit (pornados, as an example). There are so many bad practices that are ingrained that it might be hard to see the "right way" if you've been too close to it for too long.
+4  A: 

I think the biggest single issue you'll have to worry about is account sharing.

How do you prevent someone from handing out their paid-for credentials to others?

Mark Biek
This is not related to usability nor is it unique to the adult sector. Who is voting this stuff up?
Max Howell
People hoping he's building a programmer-porn web site? :)
@mxcl You're more than welcome to downvote the question and any answers you find unhelpful.
Mark Biek
But there is no way to prevent Shared Credentials. Any website for that matter. Is there?
Lakshman Prasad
I guess detection is probably an easier goal than prevention.
Mark Biek
+8  A: 

Standard web usability techniques would apply. Look at other sites that offer the type of content you offer (meaning, images and/or videos).

The fact that it's an adult site is inconsequential.

Robert S.
+35  A: 

Plan for "Private Browsing" in Safari, so don't rely on cookies.

Bob King
Session cookies will still work in Private Browsing mode though
Paul Dixon
Right, just not persistent ones.
Bob King
+23  A: 

Looking at it from a member retention point of view, I think the biggest usability issue for an adult site is to categorize well.

Keep your categories separate! Make advertising obvious. Don't send people to advertising unless they want it! Make the content easy to find/search.

Why the downvote?
might be the most important thing. adult sites have the reputation of being difficult to navigate/search—they're money traps.
why the hell did 2 people vote this offensive? What children!
+7  A: 
  • An intelligent CAPTCHA that will prevent underage users from entering the site, i.e. solving a random problem etc.
  • Image size optimized for a user screen size.
  • Ability to arrange several favorite images into immediate view.
  • No blinking.
  • Large controls that can be operated without need for much precision.
  • A button or some sort of control (right click?) that will immediately blank the screen (display a spreadsheet i.e.).
I understand that what you mean about the 'capcha,' but that's is not what a CAPTCHA is for: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CaptchaIt's to tell computers and humans apart.
Zachary Yates
Other than the control for blanking the screen, these are all general usability features and not specific to an adult site. And even the screen blanking could be useful for non-adult time-wasting sites such as those involving regular flash games.
Eli Courtwright
@LOCALGHOST cmon that is not necessary
@LOCALGHOST: underage kids rarely have valid credit cards.
James Curran
In the US there are laws about collecting information from minors (which applies to any site with a login). http://tinyurl.com/otzqc
an adult site with a "light table" might be a good idea.
What's a "light table"?
@Eli - I think adult sites probably need to be more sensitive to precision than non-adult sites.
+84  A: 

You might giggle but hands-free navigation would seem to be an important feature. Slideshows of favorite pics. Auto-scrolling on long pages.

you beat me to it, I was going to say, "help the user navigate using his other hand".
+1 for the chuckle :)
+1 and yes, i giggled :D.
haha superb reply! +1
Andreas Grech
Not one, but TWO examples to back up the obvious, +1 :)
Tim Post
+48  A: 

Basically, go to any typical free adult site, and browse. Every time you say 'WTF!', write down what happened that pissed you off. After an hour, I think you have a great list of what NOT to do. Essentially:

  • Categorize well
  • Don't resize my window. I like my window the size it is, thank you.
  • Navigation sans mouse is a bonus
  • If I click on a link that I think is part of your site, and I end up SOMEWHERE else due to crappy advertising, I will only come back to cancel.
  • Please don't open new windows for every damn thing I click. I can open stuff in new tabs/windows if I want to, I promise.

That might have been the most entertaining question I've seen so far. Kudos. :)

Really, sweetheart. It's for work. Seriously. I'm not kidding!
John Kraft
Since most of the features might not work if you disable flash/javascript and so on, browse within a virtual machine or something else that you can wipe clean in case you get nasty viruses/malware for browsing. Especially recommended if you need to check out how they work with IE.
+1 to Tuminoid's comment
Mark Pim
+7  A: 

It's hard to look at this seriously, but if we do, then one would expect several glaring differences from standard sites like flickr.

One is of course that people aren't looking for a specific picture or thumbnail but rather a category (unless you got good tagging). Let people get to what they want faster.

A second is that once people get where they wanted, they'll probably not be browsing much until they really get where they're going... :) So you want simpler controls, maybe a slideshow, I don't know. Maybe even key based "next" buttons or whatever.

If you do go fullscreen, some sort of effective boss key would be critical: on most systems, going from full screen to regular view and then shutting down the browser or switching would take way too long.

If people provide their own content, you need to let the community be able to reject pictures a-la-craiglist rather than rely on the administrators. From a legal standpoint, you may be better off because it means there are ways to get rid of illegal content faster.

And of course, you need to let people discuss or comment of features. I am sure that the typical reaction of a group of guys who see someone at the bar would often apply to cyberspace.


If you're offering video content of any kind - a few screenshots at uniform intervals.
I think Media Player classic has a plugin which does this automatically.

+1  A: 

I would say that keyboard based controls are almost a must. It's much easier to scroll through a slide show with the arrow keys than it is a mouse.

Also, allow the user to choose the size of the pictures. You can try and pick the right size automatically, but allow me to override your decision.

One pet peeve of mine, and it doesn't only apply to adult sites, but they often are guilty of this, is huge images/banners with things that look like they should be buttons but aren't, and vice-versa.


A video player needs Full Screen mode.

Also, for usability I would look at fantasti.cc. They have done a great job.

Shawn Simon
+4  A: 

Damn, someone already registered pornoverflow.com.

This conforms to internet Rule 34.see: http://xkcd.com/305/
Creation Date: 2005-02-01
+1  A: 

A good usability feature would be keyboard based navigation (better than the usual). Make it ambidexterous, we don't need to go into more detail as to why.

Jeremy B.
+5  A: 

A boss key. Although maybe it's a Wife Key.

Jay Bazuzi
Might even be parents' key (hey, not everybody moves out at 18)
Or a kids key...
Jay Bazuzi
+5  A: 

Maybe you could try to do the usability testing this way:

  1. Ask random people if they would want to participate in a usability test, just like you would if you were testing a 'normal' site.
  2. If they want to, tell them that although there will be no erotic content, the test is for an adult site, in case they object against helping such sites.
  3. Show them a site without any adult content. Maybe just your models in swimsuits or even stuff like cars. The idea is to let your testers get a feel for the site, without inducing the physical reactions.
  4. ...
  5. Profit! ;-)

Don't think you can make a usable site by using theories, even if they have roots in practical experience.

Even Steve Krug can't make usable sites with just guessing.

Patrick Huizinga
I guess usability with the physical reactions is what needs to be tested here, else it'd be just like flickr
Vinko Vrsalovic
+5  A: 
  1. No animations, no pop-ups, no new windows and absolutely no hijacking of user's control over the browser (window resizing etc.).
  2. Treat your users as valued customers and not as suckers to be separated from their money.
  3. Avoid too novel functionality and follow web conventions. You'll want your site to be simple enough for people who don't use the internet all that much.
  4. Steal good ideas you find from non-adult sites that do something similar to what you are planning to develop.
+1  A: 

I wish some of them enabled us to zoom pics (up to a certain extent) so that we could see one particular picture in more detail withou scrolling.

By the way, Gallery downloading in a single click (the whole gallery or page in a zip file) is always welcome - even in presentation mode we lose too much time clicking on pics and saving them locally.


Hands free navigation. Use the arrow keys and return.

How is using the arrow keys and return hands free?
Tim Post
+1  A: 

I find the option to download images/movies for offline use important.

Mark Probst

Make sure its on a fast network, a lot of these free sites have horrible download speeds.


Make images load progressively from BOTTOM to TOP. Will definitely spend traffic to you and your visitors.

If seriously, develop as though JavaScript was permanently disabled on the machine. I almost always switch it off before I go visiting even news sites which are known to generate popups and resize windows. If you don't want to irritate your visitors, don't use popups and window resizing.


What about voice-navigation, maybe even some kind of auto-learning like listening to visitor sounds and guessing what to show him now? (And when to slowly fade out the screen and shut down the PC).

Hmmmm... you likely to need flash to do that (to access the mic). But sounds brilliant, really.

Kiosk Mode. No interference at all when giggling!

J Angwenyi

Hope these help:

  1. Do not use embarassing popups. Sometimes users need to close the window FAST...
  2. Use teasers, but don't use teasers to teasers to teasers...
  3. Have a preview part for non members (some people have serious problems with registering).
  4. If you bill your customers use a neutral company name like "wild amazon"
  5. Frequently refresh the material else the customers walk away.
  6. Try to develop a speciality or a theme.
  7. Use your own material. If they can find it elsewhere, why would they bother.
  8. Mark all material with your copyright (visible as invisible).
  9. Try to introduce a gimmic (possibly a store, or a health advisor).
  10. Try to publish stories besides visual material.
Your own material, you mean he himself should pose before the camera?
Why not. Maybe there is a market for that.

Support for mobile devices, like the iPhone, so users can spank the monkey on the go or hidden places. Seriously.

Tim Büthe

Use Google Maps API to zoom in and out, move left and right, making the picture as the background - Seriously.

The smooth scrolling, Full screen and many such related stuff are taken care well by the Maps API.

Lakshman Prasad

I know people have been real quick to post suggestions about picture viewing but the reality of the situation is that if you creating an adult web-site that is providing original content you will have to be dealing with video.

  • Indexed picture previews on video.
    • You'll want to give the user a quick scan of the scene that will save you bandwidth in the long run by removing the streaming aspects if the user can "filter" by the contents of the scene.
  • Jumpable flash player
    • This is really important. But create a lower quality searchable flash preview player for all scenes. This will also help reduce overall bandwidth by adding a more content previewing for the user.
  • High quality HD movies.
    • This isn't necessarily a usability concern as it is a quality of content concern but none the less a growing requirement to stay current.
  • Proper honest tagging of content is required.
    • This adds maintenance hours for content upkeep because some poor soul is going to have to scan new content and tag all of the uhm, "categories" that the content falls under.
  • Star indexes.
    • Don't underestimate the power of celebrity.
  • Pre-zipped picture sets.
    • Save your server and your clients the hassle of unnecessary page requests.
  • Randomized identifiers/urls for preview content.
    • Don't get your free content scraped by simple scripts.

If you need a reference of a good client-positive interface look at the GGG John Thompson members area. The AJAX is kind of funky but overall it's a good site.


Here a website with (some) useful informations and guides about how to and what to do for adult/porn websites.


Boris Guéry