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35 Ways To Create THE WORST Website EVER. (aka What Not To Do)

I’ve seen a lot of websites in my day – both through design and just through organic searching. However, as a designer it’s different. Instead of just landing on the page and doing my thing, designers (or at least I) start going through it and checking off things that I like and don’t like. If the ratio leans to the “like” side, I’ll stick around and do my business. If I’m annoyed, I’ll back out and find a different site. Does anybody else do this?

Anyway, some things are just irritatingly bad choices that people have made, so I’ve thrown together this list of

35 Ways to Create THE WORST Website EVER (aka What Not To Do):

Bad Design Choices

1. Splash Screens – This one is a fine line, and I understand that, but when I click on a site, I want to see… that site. I don’t want to be greeted with “SIGN UP” or “CHECK THIS OUT” or anything else. Let me choose to sign up on your sidebar, or have the pop-up come in on the side or be delayed for a bit. Don’t be so needy!

2. Non-Mobile – This one is slowly becoming less of an issue (especially after mobilegeddon), but I still come across it occasionally. The majority of humans have smart phones and tablets, no matter what it is you do, your audience falls in that category – accommodate.

3. Clutter – Graphics are awesome! They are! As a graphic designer, I’ll never argue this point. BUT, when used excessively they take away from your overall site and content. Nobody cares that you were the 8th Runner Up at the Bloggers of Newberry Circle Brunch (and I apologize now if that’s a real thing and I’ve offended you.) Unless that’s all your blog/site talks about, don’t put it up there. Print it off, frame it, hang in on your wall, whatever, but don’t make me search around all those little badges and graphics for the information I’m looking for. Clean and organized never goes out of style.

4. Sparse – On the flip side of that – not enough graphics is just as bad. Now it just looks boring and there’s nothing to catch my eye and grab my attention. It’s a fine line to walk.

Bad Content Choices

5. Too Much Text – Keep it simple. A blog should never be just a solid block of text. That would be boring to look at and terrible to read. Break it up! Most online readers don’t actually READ every word. They scan through it, picking out the bold and the headings. As bloggers we should be catering to this knowledge. Use short paragraphs, bullet points, bold and headings. Emphasize the good stuff and make sure your readers scan to the right parts.

6. Not Enough Text – Again, on the flip side, clicking on a site link and not being able to find anything is just as annoying. Make sure you’re covering your topic, just do it in a clean and lean way.

7. Taglines – Be careful with these! They are basically the pick-up line of your blog/site. Don’t make them cheesy!!

8. Long About Bio – Unless it has a direct correlation with what your blog/site is about. I really don’t need to know. I like your cat, but I don’t need to know that you found him in a dumpster and then took him to the vet, who referred you to a Dumpster Cat Facebook Group, where you met your husband, and then moved to Texas, where you opened a coffee shop. Knowing you’re a small business owner/barista in Texas is enough to serve my purposes.

9. Info by Download – Yes, I love downloads. I create them myself. BUT, not everything on your site should be available ONLY by download. Give me the option, but also give me the info without the hurdle. (I’m speaking directly to restaurants and food/drink establishments… I love your product (usually) But I don’t necessarily need to frame your menu above my desk. I just want to know if you have a BLT. That’s it.)

10. Video/Music Auto-Start – Don’t do this unless you want to see me turn into the Hulk! This is one of my biggest pet peeves! I am usually around other people when I work, or listening to music, or both. If I click on your site and it starts blasting sound through my speakers or headphones, I close the entire window and never go back. I don’t care how good your content is, that’s just rude! Don’t FORCE me to listen/watch something, I’ll click through (and usually do listen and watch the content) but on MY terms – after I’ve turn my music off, or when I’m alone and not worried about interrupting other people around me.

11. Links That Go No Where – Why/how does this even happen? I shouldn’t be the one finding the holes in your site. Test every link before you move on to the next post/article. Make sure they go where you want.

12. Over Linking – You don’t have to link every. single. word to something else. Links are important, yes, but so it’s plain text. Too many links and the Search Robots will ignore you completely, and so will I.

Bad Font Choices

13. Font Size – Think Goldilocks: too big is bad, too small is bad. You gotta find that “just right”. You don’t want to appear to be screaming at your audience, but you want them to be able to actually see what you have to say too.

14. ALL CAPS – Writing in all caps is considered SHOUTING. Don’t do it on your website. A work here and there is fine, but NEVER more than that. Don’t be rude!

15. Colors – Dark on light. Not THIS.  Not THIS . And definitely  NOT THIS !  Unless you are a VERY crafty designer, always use dark text on a light background. The goal is for people to WANT to read your words, not to make it a game of “what does that say”.

Bad User Friendliness Choices

16. Wrong Links – Every link should go somewhere and it should be obvious where. The links in your navigation should take me to other pages in your blog/site. Don’t trick me into downloading something or send me off on a wild goose hunt trying to find what I’m looking for and then realize it’s impossible to get back to where I was.

17. “Do You Really Want To Leave?” – These pop-ups ensure that I indeed do want to leave. And that I never want to come back. Let me out. If it was by accident, I’ll come back.

18. Required Login – Sometimes I just want to purchase what I need. Don’t force me to sign up for your email list or create a username and password. I’m there to give you my money. If you really want it, don’t make me create an account and then bombard my email.

19. Long Load Time – I have a lot on my list of “To-Do”. Waiting for your site to load isn’t one of them. If it takes more than 3 seconds, I’ll just go somewhere else.

20. Captcha – There are a ton of spam filtering widgets and apps you can download to help with comment moderation. Please, please, please don’t make me cross my eyes and squint so that I can tell you “Good Job” on your post. I’d rather just say nothing, thanks.

21. No Exit – Don’t hold me captive with a pop-up. Give me the option to X out and make it obvious. If I feel trapped I close the window and start my search over. I don’t wait for you to finish and I definitely DO NOT opt in.

Bad Animation Choices

22. Too Much – It’s cool that you can do that. But is it REALLY necessary? Would I not have gotten the same information without that dancing bear in the corner?

23. Mouse-Overs – Again, it was cool in the 90s, but today, with everything else that we have going on, it’s just annoying. I don’t need a trail of arrows, or that weird stretching sound, or my mouse to turn into a space ship. Just let me click and navigate in peace.

24. Glitter Images – Remember when all those glitter badges came out in the MySpace dynasty? That’s where they should remain. They are attention-grabbing for all the wrong reasons. Whenever I see these I instantly think, “Well your site is dated, so your information must be too.”

25. Dancing Backgrounds – They shouldn’t move. Ever! Always makes me feel like I’ve been on a merry-go-round and the world is still spinning. I can’t handle it and I back out of the site super fast!

26. Flashing Images/Text – Again, it just shouldn’t. It grabs too much attention and is basically the same things as writing in ALL CAPS. It’s tacky and makes you look like an amateur.

Bad Contact Choices

27. No Contact Form – Contact forms are there to help your potential customers get in touch with you easily. Why wouldn’t you want this?

28. Hidden Contact Form – It should only take me ONE click to get from any page, to your contact page. More than that and there’s a problem.

29. Can You Really Help Me? – I understand that not everybody is able to work internationally. IF you can’t, let me know early on! Don’t get me all excited and into your product/service just to find out 3/4 through the process that I can’t have what I now want.

30. Too Many Fields – Keep it simple at first. Don’t make me fill in 30 required fields when I just want to ask you a question. In the beginning all you really need is my name and email. It shouldn’t matter what city I live in, where I work, what my favorite color is, or even how I found your site. Once we start a conversation, then you can ask me all that.

Bad Service Choices

31. No Unsubscribe Option – My inbox is inundated daily. Don’t make me beg you to stop sending me stuff. If we don’t match we don’t match, allow us both to move on.

32. No Response – It surprises me how often this actually happens. I’m a customer, and I’m reaching out to you because I’m interested in something you’re doing/saying, why would you ignore me?

33. Over Responding – Again, there are two sides to this one. After I get my response from you, give me a few days to think it over before you start hounding me with more emails.

34. Purchasing ≠ Mailing List – Me purchasing a product/service from you does not always mean that I want to hear from you every week for the rest of my days. Make them TWO separate lists.

And for the grand finale … *drum roll* … The #1 WORST thing you can do on a website/blog design…

35. FLASH – Ads, Banners, Intros, Pop-Ups, Widgets… Doesn’t matter what it is. For the love of all that is Holy, DO NOT USE FLASH!!! And there is a special place in designers hell reserved for those that create their entire sites in flash.

And there is it… 35 Ways To Create THE WORST Website EVER! Not sure why you would ever want to do that, but… to each their own.  Just know that I (and almost everybody else in the world) will not be visiting you there.

So what have I missed? What do you think the worst things on websites are? Join/Start a conversation below.


  1. Jonathan on June 12, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    I noticed a theme in a lot of these. It seems like if the designer can just keep one or two things in mind they can hit most of these easily. Genuinely care about what your customers want to read and be diligent don’t over try. Trust the will of the consumer.

    • Elle on June 12, 2015 at 1:03 pm

      Yes. Exactly. It should be an easy thing. Communicate and Care. Simple. 🙂

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35 Ways To Create THE WORST Website EVER. (aka What Not To Do)

time to read: 8 min