What makes a bad website?

by boogersite.com

No one wants to admit that they have a bad website. At boogersite.com we focus on what makes a website a "boogersite" but that does not mean we are merely interested in laughing at unsuspecting web designers. Think of us as exterminators - and although seeing thousands of roaches scurry away from the half-eaten ham sandwich under the couch is disturbing, we want to leave your website smelling of Raid and looking a whole lot better. In the following sections we will explore the most common mistakes that web designers make and how you can avoid them.

Poor Navigation
Navigation on a website is one of the most important elements on a page. A lot of web designers feel the need to hide or disguise the link to the other pages in your site in such a way that you need a truffle pig to find the information you are looking for. Menu items should be clear, concise, easy to find and consistent. It is a disservice to your users to introduce them to a menu only to change it and move it around on every page. Before you think that we are one of Jakob Nielsen's children, let us stress that navigation can and should be creative and fit within the overall site design, it just has to be consistent and obvious to your users that it is a site menu.

Sites that lack a clear focus or message
You've heard it over and over, you only have a few measly seconds to convince the average user to stay on your website. That does not mean that you should shoehorn everything that your company or website offers into the index page. Your website should be designed in such a way that a user immediately knows what and who you are, the purpose of your website, and where to go next.

Being egocentric instead of user-centric
Let's be honest - no one really cares about the websites that we create, they are merely vehicles for users to get what they want whether it is where to go see the New Kids on the Block Reunion Tour, how to turn a lawn mower into a fuel cell or finding the perfect web design company. If you do it right then you get what you want in the process, doing it wrong means countless pages of company history, mission statements (does anyone actually READ these?), visitor counters, weather in your local city or webcams of the office cat. The easier that you can make it for users to find what they are looking for, the more likely that they will become customers instead of another blip on the bounce counter.

Dated websites
Have you ever gone back and watched your favorite 70's or 80's movie and find it laughable to watch because the clothes, cars, and dialogue seem so old and out of date? Websites that feature clip art, frames, java applets, flash intros or animated gifs are old-school (and not in the cool retro sense either). Websites don't have to be on the bleeding edge of technology but it shouldn't look like the heyday of geocities either.

If this glorious piece of (ahem) "software" is installed anywhere that you can access it, stop reading right now. Go uninstall it, and then come back here. Seriously, it is important to use web design tools that are built for web design in this century. Programs like FrontPage and Publisher inherently add things to the code of your webpage that not only make it difficult to edit but also screams to your users that you use FrontPage. Trust us, that is a bad thing!

Stagnant or old content
Take a look at the upcoming events or recent news section of your website. If there are items in there that are older than your toddlers, then you need to consider updating. Besides having current relevant content that changes often, your website should be redesigned or refocused every year.

Cool little icons saying “Under Construction”
The only thing worse than old content is pages with no content. If you are unable to finish the pages on your website, don't have links to empty pages with images of orange cones or construction signs, no one cares that you are working on your site.

Needless Flash animation
Anyone that has waited for a flash animation to load, only to watch a dancing logo bathed in strobe lights with techno music in the background has uttered the phrase "I hate Flash". There is a time and place for animation, and Flash can be a great tool when used properly. If the element that you are designing in Flash could be just as effective using html and JavaScript, then you probably should not be using Flash. "Intro"s are a different issue all together and for the most part if you want one or someone suggests one, like Nancy Reagan used to advise...Just. Say. NO.

Lack of SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Search engines like Google or Yahoo basically have one purpose, which is to send users to the websites that they are looking for. The more visitors that you have on your website the greater your ROI and yada yada yada. The point is, the easier that search engines can find and index your site, the more people you will have on your pages. The good news is that search engines like Google look for well-formed and organized pages that are clear and concise and those are also the same things that users are looking for in web pages. So, a lot of it is common sense and for the items that are not common sense, there are companies that can help with SEO.

So while picking your nose is not serious, picking the right website company is!

If you need a professional partner to start, grow or enhance your web presence, large or small, our sponsor has proven methods to help you succeed.