10 web design tragedies

10 web design tragedies

Summary: Todd Fluhr found ten websites to represent some of the worst design tragedies on the Internet -- from sites of the well-known (J.K. Rowling and George E.R. Martin) to the obscure.


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  • Richard Hoagland is best known as a conspiracy theorist and fringe thinker. He has several published books to his credit and is a frequent guest on Coast to Coast AM with George Noory. He single-handedly created the "Face on Mars" controversy with his book, "The Monuments of Mars". As a successful author he should be capable of having a decent website constructed. As someone concerned with public image and technology, you'd think he'd want his website to be easy to navigate and well-designed. But no.  Welcome to the rambling, scrolling, self-indulgent train-wreck known as the Enterprise Mission. Upon second thought, maybe the website isn't a failure after all. It does seem to perfectly reflect his personality.

  • Yes, THAT J. K. Rowling.  Is it a website about the author, or books, or an interactive game? Why, it's all three!  Explore the magical world as you try to guess which object links to what!  Fall under the spell of the fluttering butterfly as you search for the navigation links. Hear the dog barking in the distance. Attempt to read the links that appear cut off and half-hidden by the top of the screen. I rank the Game Play as a zero on a scale of one to five magic wands. The web design itself gets a zero score for navigation and pretentious clutter. Maybe one day she'll make enough money to hire someone who knows the basics about web design.

  • The esteemed place of number 1 web tragedy must go to George R. R. Martin. He's the man behind the HBO series Game of Thrones. In addition to his Song of Ice and Fire series the man has written a ton of novels and is a NYT #1 Bestselling Author.  So why does his website look as if it was designed by a high school kid in the 1990's? Animated GIFs, bland graphics, and amateurish layout conspire to make this website a cartography of basic "web design don'ts".

    It was "designed" by a "company" (and I use both terms in the broadest possible sense) named Mandala. A quick glance at their sites only strengthens my suspicion that they stay in business only by sub-contracting their web to teen LARPER's working from an old Sanyo using Paint Shop version 3.

Topics: Apps, Browser, Software Development

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  • template pack

    I wonder if I can get these in a wordpress template pack.
    • RE: 10 web design tragedies

      @trevor@... LOL. LOL Hard.
    • At least ZOMBO.COM is clean ....

      ....compared to zdnet.com!
      I tolerate this site because of the information,
      but dang! It is hard to navigate!
  • RE: 10 web design tragedies

    http://www.lingscars.com, number 9, sells a lot of cars - and she turned down the Dragons offers on investments on the BBC Dragons Den series.

    First rule of websites design - test / test / test. This one works!
    • LOL at Ling Cars

      @telephone300 - I saw that episode (Dragon's Den UK) and a follow up. She is now a multi-millionaire!

      Her style was/is, er... outrageous, but it works. It is refreshing to see such an individual make a success. But the web site is bad! LOL
  • RE: 10 web design tragedies

    Here is one
    #11 http://www.buffalowildwings.com/
    • RE: 10 web design tragedies

      @tpacheco Wow. I never saw a website that looks like that one before.
    • RE: 10 web design tragedies


      Another website designed by people who want to show off the cool things they can do.
    • They do make good wings though

      William Farrell
  • RE: 10 web design tragedies

    Maybe because zdnet is primarily anglocentric, but it's a shame no mention is made of any other examples of truly dreadful web design. Try taking a look at renfe.com. This is the national railways operator and, unless you know how to get from A to B, what kinds of station (cercanias - local rail, Delta, AVE or whatever) it is impossible to find train times. Not only that, but unless it's a direct train, you'll be out of luck. And it gets no better, they keep on playing with the design, but every time they do, there's no improvement and you just have to relearn everything. Truly, a national disgrace.
  • RE: 10 web design tragedies

    Actually, I think you hit it on the head about being designed in the 1990s. I know that's true for the J.K. Rowling site, which I remember visiting in the 1990s, or early oughts. And it sure looks like the GRRM site is the same time frame. Way too busy and built by someone more interested in showing off what they can do than in building a good website.

    One additional problem on the web is the simple fact that things don't die. I had a website on my last dial-up provider that was still up more than a year after they went out of business. I couldn't take the damn thing down. J.K. Rowling now has Pottermore, and I wonder if someone has just forgotten to take down the old site? Seems like it should have been gone long ago, but if someone doesn't actually shutdown the site, it may stay up for a very long time...abandoned....neglected....poor website....well, okey maybe not, but you get the idea.
  • . . . and ZDNet

    . . . and ZDNet. Half my screen is black right now, when often it's blue. And it's clickable. Why, nobody knows. Probably a sleazy advertiser trying to get accidental clicks.

    Web galleries that reload the entire page, with thumbnails that are barely visible.

    A "Talkback" section that itself seems to be designed in the '90s, barely usable. Threaded conversations with strange limits, and anti-spam technology that catches more false positives than spam. Makes me wonder if the webmaster for ZDNet ever looked at Facebook or Google+, or is keeping up to date with the latest anti-spam technology, which has improved greatly since the '90s.
  • RE: 10 web design tragedies

    As long as we're doing bad web design, how about bad blogger's grammar: "...does that excuse it's horrible design?" Among many others.
  • RE: 10 web design tragedies

    Kind of ironic that you would use ZDNet Photo Galleries to display the "10 web design tragedies". I would add ZDNet Photo Galleries to the list. (Perhaps toward the top of the list.)
  • Enterprisemission.com?

    [i]As a successful author he should be capable of having a decent website constructed. As someone concerned with public image and technology, you'd think he'd want his website to be easy to navigate and well-designed.[/i]

    Come on, look who the people he caters to are - to them this [b]is[/b] a beautifully done website. ;)
    William Farrell