Companies rarely set out to create a deliberately bad website. And yet, history is littered with domains featuring a toxic blend of poor design, ineffectual content and inept functionality.
Fortunately, these failed creations serve to highlight the website design pitfalls we should all avoid…
Despite Adobe’s legendary incompatibility with the mobile devices that dominate modern web traffic, Polish charcoal firm Patimex still uses Flash on its website. Most users will simply see a series of “click to enable Flash Player” messages against a blank background. Meanwhile, Flash loyalists will see a poorly-animated devil floating in a barbecue beside a woodpile, accompanied by dreadful synthesised music. There’s no excuse for relying on obsolete software in the age of HTML5 and cinemagraphs, especially as search engines punish outdated programming in ranking results.
Other than product pages, simple navigation requires a maximum of six page links on a homepage. Alternative medicine portal Mednat has 510 subpage hyperlinks. Yet even this is better than the Technicolor headache of Sinhala Movies, displaying the most incomprehensible GIF collage this side of the legendary Ling’s Cars portal.
Once people have arrived on your site, every element should drive them towards an objective, like downloading a podcast, buying a product or registering an enquiry. Celebrated author Suzanne Collins clearly lost sight of this when creating her own website. A sprawling homepage is full of non-hyperlinked book scans sandwiched between critic reviews that incoherently bleed into each other. Web design is best left to professionals, or at least conducted through a template builder like WordPress. A navigation flowchart should be sketched out before building the site, while XML sitemaps help web crawlers understand what’s going on.
A successful modern site needs clean and minimalist design that displays quickly. Sadly, nobody told Govind Tiwari. His website’s rotating globe, blinking selfie overlays and gaudily flashing background all detract from the broken YouTube links and Flash plugin warnings that ought to celebrate and showcase his work. Animated GIFs have no place on a website in 2017. Nor do other web 1.0 throwbacks like blue hyperlinks or visible frames, yet both are prominent on property conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway’s dismal website.
Content should concisely celebrate products and services, which is where Jami Lin’s website falls down. It’s unclear whether this is a New Age self-improvement site, an interior design portal or a beauty products outlet. The presence of multiple menu bars (plus sidebar adverts) detracts from the central content, itself lacking a unifying theme.
At least it’s concise, unlike The Register. This news portal’s homepage contains almost 60,000 words, which is more than many books. As a general rule, only blog pages can justify more than a few hundred words of content. Even then, keywords and long tails are crucial to optimise SEO.