What makes a bad website?

Posted on March 4, 2021

 

We’ve all come across websites that just make us think “this is awful!”, but it’s not always easy to identify what about it makes for a poor user experience.

When building websites, it’s a good idea to understand not just that a website is bad, but why it’s bad, and how it could be made better.

TheWorldsWorstWebsiteEver.com is a deliberately dreadful website built to draw attention to some of the mistakes web designers make. With its scrolling text, garish colour schemes, distracting graphics, textspeak language and broken links, a lot of it would be pretty par for the course 20-25 years ago. As of 2018 though, the website’s designer has listed 60 mistakes, noting that there are probably more.

These days, most designers know that WordArt and flashing images are ‘90s throwback no-nos, but the fast-changing nature of the internet and web design is always opening up the potential for new achievements in wobbly web design.

For instance, the transition from desktop internet to mobile has left many sites looking dated and difficult to use across certain devices. My medical practice’s website (which overall is pretty good) currently has a big, chunky pop-up about COVID-19 on the homepage, which is not too bad on a desktop, but is really intrusive and too big for the screen on a mobile. My lockdown sense of wanderlust has led me to conclude that the mobile website for the airline Wizz Air isn’t great either, with a tendency to be slow to load and for the focal point of the page to jump about as components load up.

Then you have sites where it just isn’t easy to find what you’re looking for. The football data site RSSSF.com would be a wonderful resource if anyone made some attempt to catalogue it. Instead, you’re as likely to find last night’s results on it as you are to discover who was Albanian Goalkeeper of the Year in 1973. Some sites, like the comically disorganised Norwegian retail site Arngren.net, have even taken on semi-legendary status with their ugliness.

It’s often said that you don’t have to be a chef to know if food is bad, and you also don’t have to be a web designer to know if a website is no good. The problem is that users will rarely point out problems with websites (and I haven’t told any of these webmasters about my grumbles, for a start), so it’s down to businesses themselves to seek feedback on what does and doesn’t work. A little detective work can be rewarding too – for example, if you observe that people are spending a long time on your enquiry form page but not many of them are filling the form in, could it be the case that your form is too long, asks difficult questions, functions poorly on a mobile or, worst of all, simply doesn’t work?

If you’re concerned about your website, or you’d like to start a new one, speak to the Engage Web team. We perform regular tests to ensure your site’s effectiveness, and we can build on this with regular content to aid your search engine optimisation (SEO) campaign.

Content Team Leader at Engage Web
John works for Engage Web as a Content Team Leader and regularly contributes to the website and programmes of his beloved Chester F.C.
John Murray
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