Web Pages That Suck - learn good web design by looking at bad web design

 

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FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about Web Pages That Suck:

Due to the number of requests I receive and the limited amount of time I have, it's impossible to critique people's sites.

As far as how to fix your page, well, that's where my two books and this web site come in. The whole purpose of the book is to show you how to correct the major web design mistakes. Of course, this is a blatant plug.

As far as teaching you HTML or answering questions of the "How Do I..." nature, I'm constrained by the regular demands on my time. Try http://www.htmldog.com/ or http://www.webmasterworld.com (see right-side navigation on their site).

I can think of two reasons (other than it would violate the rule that a domain name should have something to do with your subject matter — WebPagesThatSuck.com should be about bad design; WebPagesThatDontSuck should be about…you get the point).

  1. Bad web design is pretty consistent across all categories of web sites — you rarely go wrong when you say "Don't use animated GIFs on your web site." With good web design "it depends" — on an individual's taste and on the type of site. You can't really discuss individual taste (my taste in web sites differs from your taste in sites) and it's difficult to know who exactly is the target audience for a specific type of site. (Most companies do not conduct research into how to meet their customers' needs, so they're not sure about the composition of the target audience.)

  2. For those of you with a more religious bent, you should note well that 8 of the Ten Commandments mentioned in the Bible are "Thou shalt nots" and only 2 are positive exhortations. God has spoken.

I'm always puzzled — and a little bit scared by this question. After all, the domain is called "Web Pages That Suck" not "Web Pages That Don't Suck."

Actually, there was a version of this site back in 1998-1999 that was really nice (Michael Willis, my co-author created it), but I got rid of it because it looked too nice. Like I said, the site is called "Web Pages That Suck" and I like for the look of the site to suck in a mediocre rather than blazingly bad way because most web sites suck in a mediocre way.

I'd say at least 99.9% of the visitors to the site "get it," perhaps because they've read "Stupid Versions of the Home Page." Those folks who don't get it are interesting because they send email with statements like "your site is the worse site on the web" or "I've never seen an uglier site." Obviously, they don't get out on the Net much nor do they read the Daily Sucker. This site is obviously better than this Daily Sucker. I'd be much more impressed if they said, "Your site was the most mediocre site on the web." That would show me they possess critiquing skills.

The other comment I get that confuses me is "...since your site points out other people's foibles, your own site should be above reproach." Only if my site were called, "My Website Doesn't Suck But Your Website Does."

Actually, I don't need to — for several reasons. Generally, sites mentioned receive a large number of visitors and most sites keep close watch on their web logs. Then we have scumball web design firms who contact these sites offering to "fix" the problems. Then we have some psychos who enjoy emailing the offending sites and informing them their site made WPTS. Some people forge emails, so let me say that I never send emails out of the blue or sign guestbooks.

A next-to-final note: if you suggest a sucky site and I use it, don't email the site and tell them they made the Daily Sucker. Why? Because they're smart enough to figure out you're probably the one who sent it in to me in the first place. They won't like you. Trust me.

Final note to all the silly little kids: if you're going to email people, don't use obscenities, etc. You can get your ass put in a sling and lose your email account or worse. There are laws against that. Oops. I said, "ass."

Well, part of the reason is listed in the previous answer. I don't want ambulance-chasing web designers harassing folks. The main reason is simpler. People keep changing their sites and then I'd get all these emails saying, "I don't get it. The XYZ site looks nothing like the way you described it."

I hardly have time to update the sites on the Mystery Meat Navigation page. I couldn't begin to imagine how much time it would take to keep tabs on the roughly 1,500 sucky sites I've discussed over the years. The only "archive" has to do with sites that use Mystery Meat Navigation and I don't update it because, quite frankly, I don't like updating outside links. That's why there's no archive.

Unfortunately, I can't because it would appear to be a conflict of interest—or worse. If my last name were Soprano, I might refer my own services—"Hey, your site sucks. Let me fix it."

What pisses me off is that all these sites that talk about good web design are subliminally saying:

Here are all these good web sites. Your site doesn't look like this or use these techniques or uses HTML 5 or whatever else is current, so your site sucks. Hire us and we'll fix it.

I can't do that, but that's the price you pay for not being boring and for being on the edge.

There's no search engine for the same reason there's no archive.

Here's a way to use Google to search the site. Go to Google and in the search box type:

name-of-the-site site:www.webpagesthatsuck.com

For example, if I wanted to know where Qualcomm was mentioned, I'd key in:

qualcomm site:www.webpagesthatsuck.com

Google returns a list of pages.

What about them? People have the mistaken notion that I'm against them. There's nothing wrong with these types of sites because they're a type of personal page.

The only problem is some of them exert a strong influence on the design community who will then exert a strong influence on you and the design of your site. k10k.net is a perfect example of an art/experimental site. It's a great site to go to if you are looking for what is current in the world of experimental web design, but you shouldn't want your commercial web site to look like that.

Mystery Meat Navigation is a perfect example of a technique that's fine for these types of sites, but I'm beginning to see more and more "real" sites use this technique. That's the problem.

Depends on which selections you mean.

As far as target audience, you need to read my books for an explanation. The short explanation is in one of my articles, "Everything you need to know about web design my father taught me in 1964." The problem is simple: most people can't comprehend the difference and that's why some of the techniques I criticize, while valid on the site, should not be emulated on normal, business sites.

I'm not here to provide web design car wrecks for your entertainment nor am I here to provide class assignments for your school. I'm here to teach good design by looking at bad design — the emphasis is on the word "bad." You actually learn more by looking at sites with specific problems than by the obviously horrible examples that can only be fixed by a total redesign.

Very simple. Unlike many sites about web design, this site gets lots of visitors and I have to pay for the bandwidth. Graphics eat up bandwidth, so I over-optimize my graphics to keep the costs down. Here's my bandwidth report for just the images:

Nov. 2006 -- 11.6Gb
Dec. 2006 -- 16.5Gb
Jan. 2007 --    5.5Gb

The January improvement had to do with removing lots of images and optimizing the heck out of the rest.

Update: I've grown really, really tired of designers complaining about the quality of my images. As I have time, I'm replacing the old graphics with newer, bloated and expensive graphics. Please stop complaining.

I'll tackle the easiest part first: I never send emails out of the blue saying "Your site sucks" or sign guestbooks. (Here's a design tip: You shouldn't use a guestbook. It's a sign that "I'm an amateur.")

Concerning log files: About twice a week I receive an email like the following:

I want to know how people are getting referred to my site from yours, and why...Now, I want to know where you found our site and how it was used on yours. How are people being directed to our site from yours?

First. There are very few pages which mention actual sites. If you're not getting visitors from the Daily Sucker or the Mystery Meat Navigation article, then somebody is playing games with you). There are no links to regular sites from the root page — http://www.webpagesthatsuck.com — except for "good" companies such as those where I'm going to speak.

Unless your site is receiving hundreds or thousands of visitors (not hits) from WPTS, I don't know exactly why WPTS shows up in your log files. One guy wrote in and said he got 89 hits from us. Well, his home page has 88 graphics on it (plus the page). There was only one visitor. If you don't understand this concept, you won't understand anything else I'm going to say.

I've tried to figure how my site shows up in your log files — and I've had some pretty smart people try to figure it out — but there is no definitive answer. I used to think people were on WPTS and manually typed in a URL of a site they wanted to go to or one that reminded them of one of the Daily Suckers, but that doesn't seem to cause it to happen.

There are three possible solutions:

  1. Your log analysis software may have incorrectly interpreted an IP address and assigned it to WPTS.
  2. Apparently, Linux browsers are well-known for bugs so it might be a browser error.
  3. I believe the real solution is someone is trying to upset you by forcing a referrer from WPTS into your log file. This is very easy to do. In fact a simple 7-line Perl script can do it (if you don't know what Perl is, then you have no business worrying because this is elementary). Don't ask me for the code. If you know Perl, you can do this. One person discovered an ex-employee had written such a Perl script just to upset him.

In fact, I've been told, that someone who knows Linux can do the same operation in 1 line from the command line version of lwp.

Hopefully, this explains what is happening. On the other hand, you may actually have been the Daily Sucker. In that case, there probably is no record because I don't keep an archive. If you're wondering why you were chosen, read this.