Worst Business Websites of 2009

This is what many business web sites look like

The difference between the sites listed here and those found in Worst Over The Top Web Sites of 2009 is that the pages listed here belong to commercial businesses. Over the Top sites generally deal with philosophy, religion, politics, end times, etc., that are out of the mainstream.

How does this list differ from Worst Business Web Sites of 2009, But You Can Learn Something From Them? Well, the sites here are Car Wrecks on the Information Highway — the types of sites that can only be fixed by nuking them and starting over. They are what some people would call "The Ugliest Web Sites of 2009."

Obviously, the sites that follow aren't examples of great web design. I suspect a lot of them are fixed or dead.

1. LingCars.com

worst business web site of 2009

I found another shockingly bad site that you might be interested in. Have a look at your leisure.

I think we have another sure-fire contender for the Worst Web Site of 2009. It's 4.3Mb of flashing, blinking crap.

Vincent Flanders' comments: Sure-fire contender? It's the winner!

I'm pretty sure the site makes almost all the possible text mistakes:

  1. Small text, which is difficult to read and comprehend.
  2. LARGE text, which is difficult to read and comprehend.
  4. Scrolling, blinking, fading, or moving text.
  5. Underlined text. (Only links should be underlined.)
  6. Centered text. (Some headlines can be centered.)
  7. Justified text.
  8. Sideways text.
  9. Uncommon fonts.
  10. <FONT> tag.
  11. Inappropriate font faces — like Comic Sans on a senior citizen site.
  12. Multiple text sizes on a page (video). There should be two sizes — one for headlines and one for text.
  13. Multiple text colors on a page.

I apologize if I've missed some or some of the above don't apply. The site is too messy to examine thoroughly.

Other comments: This site really does suck (seems to try very hard to look like a newspaper page - big mistake), but oddly enough, it isn't offensive. My biggest problem with it is that it lacks focus - your eye isn't allowed to rest on anything. Maybe that is the idea?

It isn't anywhere nearly as bad as that raving loony web site we saw a couple of weeks ago.

In any case, if you look carefully, there is actually some pretty interesting information, hidden like Easter eggs in snake-infested weeds.


2. Mr. Bottles

#2 worst business web site of 2009

This page has a little too much fun with all of the Flash toys. It'd be a clever layout if a floating man didn't start talking to me, a bunch of pictures started flipping frantically and a little boat followed me as I scrolled.

I don't want web page avatars talking to me.

Vincent Flanders' comments: A talking, floating man is a good way to get your web site listed as one of the Worst of the Year. What really upsets me is the lack of understanding about paragraph structure. A paragraph is a logical unit—wait, it's better to have an expert describe the structure of a paragraph. You don't just run words together until you feel the urge to stop.

The home page is something like 2.1Mb and if you go to a subpage and then go back to the homepage, The Talking Bottle Guy repeats his spiel. Of course, we have contrast issues and the HTML has <FONT> tags and all the usual stuff you see here at WPTS.

Other comments #1: Thankfully, I likely will not have bad dreams about the talking bottle guy. It seems like garden-variety suckage, and is barely worth the time it takes to comment, except for the terrible contrast issue. It seems that someone was SOOOOOOOOO concerned with folks seeing the background image that he decided to sacrifice legibility.

Other comments #2: I think the site - which is quite a feat - violates every rule in the Good Design book. Great catch by the submitter.

Other comments #3: One man's garbage is another man's treasure and Vincent has struck it rich with this web site!

Mr. Bottles

3. AAA+ Utah Ski Rental Homes

#3 worst business web site of 2009

Vincent Flanders' comments: This site is a classic example of Mistake #6 from Biggest Mistakes in Web Design 1995-2015Have you ever seen another web site? Really? Doesn't look like it." This site is blatantly beyond the pale — we're not discussing the difference between a Monet painting and one by Manet — how can anyone NOT see the problems with this site? Look. My site sucks, but it's infinitely better than this sucker.

Heck. Larry the Cable Guy would design a better looking site than this site (here's a link for my foreign readers who may not catch the reference). Hell. My mother could design a better looking site and she died before web pages became popular.

Nuke it and start over.

Other comments #1: So much to love. I especially like the animated background, the image-only links (no text), the "BEST RATES IN THE VALLEY" item that makes the page extra wide, and this little gem at the bottom:




Other comments #2: This web site illustrates the problem of people using WYSIWYG web editors. The editors themselves are just as complicated to learn as the HTML language itself. The people using the editors have no idea of what the underlying code looks like or is supposed to look like. Editing creates a mess.

This web site is split up into tables.

I think the "heading" at the top of the page is supposed to be centered. The author has used non-breaking spaces at the front of the line, and in between the words. It works if your browser is set to the right width.

The SnowDrift font is being used, at least by the author. I particularly like how the font CentSchbook TB is specified for displaying the graphic.

The concluding </html> tag has been deleted.

I think I got about a third of the way into the code. Someone else can continue this if they want. :)

AAA+ Utah Ski Rental Homes

4. ABBC Breeders

4th worst business web site of 2009

Submitter's comments: For the January – March of '09 Worst Sites, there's an entry for ABBC Breeders. In the included screenshot of the post it looks like they had some sort of Arbor Day design up. Well, as Christmas draws near…ah…words cannot describe. I really feel like I've been transported back in time.

Vincent Flanders' comments: Gee. My version of the site is for St. Patrick's Day. (The screenshot is 1.5Mb and leaves out most of the detail because the full-size version was 11Mb).

The screenshot I'm using here is their Christmas design. It's changed again. Now it has penguins. Who knows what will be on the site when you visit?

Other comments #1: I love these people who use these fancy, frilly fronds for logos that are almost illegible. If people have to try to figure out what your logo says, then you've failed. The fact that it's just a bunch of pointless animated GIFs that just happens to have a menu off to the side makes my head feel like it's about to explode.

Other comments #2: This web site must be preserved for posterity, as I believe it contains every single animated Christmas GIF known to mankind.

Other comments #3: Same comment as I made last time…THERE NEEDS TO BE A PICTURE OF A DOG AT THE TOP OF YOUR WEB SITE!!!!!!…Yes, I'm yelling this time.

ABBC Breeders

5. justlikesugarinc.com

5th worst business web site of 2009

Submitter's comments: The poor music and Flash animation at the beginning with that atrocious scroller is bad enough, but there's no way to turn off the announcer's voice on the home page, and he ‘talks' to you EVERY time you click on the HOME link. Then, if you use an ad block program, the entire site ‘poof' disappears, as though it's an ad. The only thing you get is a scroll bar! When you request a sample, the fireworks flashing button and very loud rendition of the Star Spangled Banner is cheesy, if nothing else.

And do we really, really need to see THAT many pictures of the product? I mean, brand recognition is one thing, but wow.

Oh, did I mention the entire site is masked so the URL NEVER changes and it's actually hosted on a different domain?

Vincent Flanders' comments: The site is frame-based, which makes it appear as if there's no content when you view the source. I didn't get the fireworks and Star Spangled Banner when I clicked to request a sample. Your mileage will vary. However, the navigation is bizarre. All those pictures of the product make it hard to focus and find the links to click. Oh. The only real navigation is the home page icon and the back button and you know how I feel about the back button:

the back button is not navigation

Another problem with the home page (at least in Internet Explorer 7) is that part of the page doesn't display. The only way the bouncing, stupid pictures display is for me to hit the browser's Refresh button. The home page (including the refresh) is 2.49Mb and that's just too big.

The irony is I'm interested in the product and I'll check it out next time I'm at Whole Foods.


6. Water on Wheels

#6 Worst business Web Site for 2009 - Water on Wheels

Submitter's comments: I was reading virtually every article I could find on your site the other day…so when I came across this site, naturally I thought of you.

Here I was looking for a 72hr-kit water storage with wheels…but I ended up with the above. Ouch.

Vincent Flanders' comments: Just like Peter, Paul, and Mary, I've been wondering "Where have all the beveled edges gone?" Turns out, they've gone to Water on Wheels. Oh, almost every other graphic mistake is there, too. My favorite is the mouseover images that aren't there. I've also never seen so many different button types on the menu.

The site's tag line "Efficiency in Motion by Creating Effectiveness!" means absolutely nothing.

Other Comments #1: Shouldn't one's web site suggest competence and professionalism? Even though the folks probably know what they are doing and may even do a great job, the site looks really cheap; this would not encourage me to use their services.

Somehow, I never expected to see the word "HOLISTIC" associated with water transport.

Also, I like doves and God knows I have great respect for the American flag, but the way each of these items is abused here makes me want to weep bitterly.

Other Comments #2: This site looks like it was written in the office, published on a test server, then copied over by winhttrack... if you are the owner, simply transfer the files.

Their 404 (file not found http response) is a 200 (OK) which returns a MSIE formatted 404 (file not found) page on HTML files. It's serving me a custom 404 page that is almost indistinguishable from MSIE 404 which caused me some confusion as to what was happening initially. Don't do something that browsers already do for you. Either leave the 404 alone or serve something better.

Another sign of structural problems: 642 of 1724 links are dead, most of them referencing button images.

Then there's this:

/ localhost/C_/User...

On the plus side, at least the designer, who may not be the owner, may not be getting the traffic he wants. He MISSPELLED his email address at least once on the main index pages.

Water on Wheels

7. Anachrome Advanced Plastic

7th worst business web site of 2009

Submitter's comments: Vincent: I was doing some cursory research into the fun world of Red-Green 3D images (stereoscopic anaglyphs), fully expecting to find a lot of images mainly of white on black with horribly contrasting colours. I wasn't expecting the same from the web pages, however.

Other than the horrific contrast, it seems to scroll on for eternity and comes up with a few hundred errors in the HTML validator. I think this qualifies for a sucker, if it hasn't already been nominated already.

Vincent Flanders' comments: To start things off on the wrong foot, the home page is 14.37Mb. This page is a classic example of Mistake #6 from Biggest Mistakes in Web Design 1995-2015"Have you ever seen another web site? Really? Doesn't look like it." Just because it's called a web page doesn't mean you have to put everything on one page.

We have almost every text problem in the universe. Here's a list I'm compiling of text mistakes. How many does this site make?

  1. Small text, which is difficult to read and comprehend.
  2. LARGE text, which is difficult to read and comprehend.
  4. Scrolling, blinking, fading, or moving text.
  5. Underlined text. (Only links should be underlined.)
  6. Centered text (some headlines can be centered)
  7. Justified text.
  8. Sideways text.
  9. Uncommon fonts.
  10. <FONT> tag.
  11. Inappropriate font faces — like Comic Sans on a senior citizen site.
  12. Multiple text sizes on a page. There should be two sizes — one for headlines and one for text.
  13. Multiple text colors on a page.

As bad as the text may be, it's "only” taking up 330Kb. The rest of the 14Mb is allocated to graphics. Obviously, dividing the home page up into multiple pages will help. Still, the images need to be optimized. There are lots of web sites where you can go and optimize your images. A couple of them are Web Resizer and SmushIt. An online program that reduces the physical dimensions is Quick Thumbnail, another is resizr, and you can search Google for both online and standalone image resizing programs. Two free Windows programs are Image Resizer from VSO Software and Easy Thumbnails

The site is dealing with an interesting topic. Unfortunately, the information is presented in a totally useless format.

Anachrome Advanced Plastic Anaglyph 3D Glasses and Anachrome 3D Technology

8. Manidoo

#8 worst business web site of 2009

I don't know if it's horrifying or just confusing. I guess it's some kind of community. (Isn't everything these days?) It's called "Manidoo," but I look at it and think "Man I don't."


9. Titusville, Florida — North Brevard Business Directory

#9 worst business web site of 2009

Submitter's comments: Have you ever checked out Coast to Coast AM's or Titusville, Florida's web sites?

Vincent Flanders' comments: Not until just now.

As far as Coast to Coast AM goes, we have to remember that it belongs to an industry I call "Over the Top.” As I've described it:

…an "Over the Top” industry is just like the definition of pornography — you know it when you see it. Over the Top sites generally deal with philosophy, religion, politics, etc., but they're generally not mainstream.

If you look at my examples of Over The Top sites, you'll notice that Coast to Coast really isn't outrageous enough to qualify. Yes, it uses garish colors, but the links are all the same color (orange) and there isn't the alternating text colors on the same line that OTT sites use. This site is quite tasteful — for an OTT site.

However; but; nevertheless: If this site were for any other industry, it would make this list. Remember: Context is everything.

Titusville Florida, on the other hand, is worthy to be here. It starts out looking worse than Coast to Coast AM and then goes downhill from there. About half-way down the page, the listings widen to fill up the screen and it becomes a mess and one of the Worst Business Web Sites of 2009..

Titusville, Florida — North Brevard Business Directory

10. WMGH

#10 worst web site of 2009

Submitter's comments: I really don't even know how to explain this radio station's awfulness. The list would be longer than the home page!

Vincent Flanders' comments: Yeah, we have a contender and another example for my list of Over-The-Top web sites. The only thing that can fix this site is a squadron of F4's and napalm.

Just on the one-in-a-trillion chance they fix the site, here's a 4.3Mb partial screen capture. I say "partial" because SnagIt, my favorite screen capture program, can't seem to capture this page and that's pissing me off. With all the crap that's on the Internet, SnagIt needs to capture bigger images.

Other comments #1: The site appears to have been built on a 22-inch monitor, which would require a majority of their patrons to side-scroll. The site was not built to entertain or inform the audience and that attitude is a sure path to failure in the entertainment business.

The black Flash page links peg my processor. Studiocams can be very entertaining and used to draw a huge audience, but they must refresh a minimum of seven frames per second and be controllable by the viewer in a minimum two minute session. And they must be pointed at the presenters faces, not their asses.

The schedule should be page one and page navigation should be located identically at the top of every page. Pages should never require scrolling. If there is a button for livestream audio, I never found it.

Radio web sites are among the easiest to build and can really bring in the advertising dollars. This one is a total disaster.

Other comments #2: Oh my God. This web site is a train wreck — seriously. I just checked the page source, and it was apparently a large enough page to freeze the YouTube video I was listening to at the same time. But seriously…how can people still think visible frame borders look anything other than awful? I don't even know where the start. The images are just all over the place and even the links to other sites have that Godawful open in new window JavaScript behind them. It's like something you'd make in FrontPage... except made in something worse than FrontPage...


11. Control Driving Skills

#11 worst business web site of 2009

Submitter's comments: What else but a car wreck on the information highway? :)

Tickers galore!
Stretched logo image!
Flapping Canadian Flag!
American Flag (static)!
Horizontal scroll for no apparent reason!
Firefox, in either despair or bafflement, thinks it requires an unknown plug in!

Much more could be listed!

Vincent Flanders' comments: This was the first Daily Sucker for 2009 (January 2).The driving school industry is YAITS — Yet Another Industry That Sucks. The Worst of 2008 was so well-represented by the industry that I almost made them a separate category. This company is providing a really important service, but their site looks really stupid. It's a classic example of Mistake #6 from Biggest Mistakes in Web Design 1995-2015"Have you ever seen another web site? Really? Doesn't look like it. Nuke it and hire someone to start over.

Control Driving Skills

12. All Star Farm

#12 Worst Business Web Site for 2009 - All Star Farm

Submitter's comments: The only reason I know about this site is because it came up as an ad in Gmail, meaning that someone actually paid real money to advertise this web site. I've spent two years building a web site for our business that I'm not ashamed of (most of the time). This site makes me want to put my eyes out with a hoof pick…

I'm sure my wife could chime in on the horsie aspect of it, but that's a different blog.

Vincent Flanders' comments: This is an incredibly tacky looking site. I just love that allstarfarm.com redirects to angelfire.com. Nothing says "professional" like redirecting your domain to a free web site. Yes, I know we're in an econopocalypse (a word I borrowed from the submitter's email), but you can't look cheap. I also love the star that follows your cursor. I'm thinking about using the head shot below as a cursor. Is that scary or what?

This would make a nice cursor

On the other hand…this site is about fantasy horses and I can make the case that this gold-gilded Gorgon is exactly what the audience for this type of product expects. Obviously, most businesses would do well not to use this site as a template.

Other comments #1: My colleague (after seeing the home page picture): "Is that a web site about horse spanking?"

Other comments #2: What's with the trail of stars that follows the cursor on the splash page? Then again, what's with the splash page itself? It's completely pointless. Of course, did anyone notice that if you go up exactly one directory from the home page you end up at some weird, half-white and grey blankish page which has nothing to do with anything else? This page has a ton of links to what appears to be pages on the site, but they go nowhere and then show an error page in an iFrame. I guess the owners tried to cover up their past web site by moving their 'newer' site one level down in the directory:

All Star Farm

13. Cinderella Photography

No. 13 worst business web site of 2009

Vincent Flanders' comments: I used Google to search the phrase [wedding photographer toronto] and this site was listed on the first page. Yes, being listed on the first page is wonderful, but it isn't enough. Your site has to look at least as good as the competition — especially the sites listed above and below you.

This is the wedding photography site listed before (#7) Cinderella; this is Cinderella (#8); and this is the photography site (#9) listed after Cinderella. All Cinderella had to do was look at the sites directly above and below them to see better looking web sites!

Seriously. If you looked at the three sites listed 7, 8, and 9, which one would you NOT want to do your photography? I've said it a 100 times before and I'll say it 2,000 more times — "If your site doesn't look like a pro, the people will go."

Other comments: Like so many other folks with bad web sites, this guy probably does some fine work. Unfortunately, his competence in photography is somewhat eclipsed by his incompetence in web site design. This site exudes cheapness in every way possible.

One thing I find egregious is the obvious keyword stuffing effort splattered all over the home page; however, the worst thing is that this site was not built for the man's prospective customers - it does not tell me anything useful. For example, whether anyone else does or not, I don't give a damn about the gear he uses; if he did good work with an old Kodak Brownie, I would be just as happy.

I could go on, but it isn't necessary; this site will die rapidly without competent help.

Cinderella Photography

14. Genicap

#14 worst business web site of 2009

Submitter's comments: I would like to nominate genicap.com. This company is supposed to offer a pretty nice plugin for Adobe Illustrator; however, I have searched their site for 30 minutes and cannot find out how I can buy a copy. There is no search feature. The navigation SUCKS. It is chock full of technobabble. All in all, one of the worse sites I have seen for a big company.

Gary Busey makes more sense than this web site

Vincent Flanders' comments: My picture above sums up my feelings about the Genicap web site. If you're not familiar with Gary's "issues,” check out his appearance on Comedy Central's Roast of Larry the Cable Guy where he roasts himself (this is so NSFW).

We have a Splash page with Mystery Meat Navigation, which is a bad way to start off your site. The subnavigation at the top is hard to read because the text is small and the contrast isn't sufficient. The regular text is small and hard to read on a high-resolution monitor. There are also JavaScript errors on certain subpages.

The rest of the site doesn't make sense. Where is the damn plugin? If it's on another site, where is the friggin link on this site? I thought this site might be an attempt to suck up to investors, but I can't even be sure of that.

This site commits at least NINE of the Biggest Mistakes in Web Design 1995-2015:

  1. Believing people care about you and your web site.
  2. A man from Mars can't figure out what your web site is about in less than four seconds.
  3. Using design elements that get in the way of your visitors.
  4. Thinking your web site is your marketing strategy.
  5. Have you ever seen another web site? Really? Doesn't look like it.
  6. Navigational failure.
  7. Using Mystery Meat Navigation.
  8. Site lacks Heroin Content.
  9. Forgetting the purpose of text.
10. Too much material on one page.
11. Confusing web design with a magic trick.
12. Misusing Flash.
13. Misunderstanding the use of graphics.
14. Mystical belief in the power of web standards, usability, and tableless CSS.
15. JavaScript

When Gary Busey makes more sense than your web site, we have a contender for the Worst Web Site of 2009.


15. Mercedes Restaurant

#15 Worst Web Site for 2009 - Mercedes Restaurant

Vincent Flanders' comments: You have to like the date at the bottom of the page — 2004. Now you know why I don't like to see dates on web sites unless you keep them…uh…up to date.

The colors are rather ugly (I'm hoping their restaurant's interior isn't using the site's color scheme) and that huge image in the middle of the page should remind us all:

Do not use graphics for text

The good news is they have menus. The bad news is they don't mark them with PDF icons.

Other comments #1: The food may be great and the service may be impeccable, but these folks need to think a lot more about intelligent branding, because visually, this site is a pig. It just feels amateurish and clumsy at best. This is not a way to encourage customers or investors.

Other comments #2: Proof, yet again, that even with good tools (Dreamweaver), you can still create a crappy web site. Great home page — Google cannot find a single word to index.

Other comments #3: Thank goodness their site is copyrighted, maybe no one else will screw up a site as bad. The menu should be page one. Clicking on a menu link is equivalent to opening a menu in a sit-down restaurant. The menu should be there. A food menu should not include descriptors like juicy, fresh, homemade, garden fresh, famous, succulent, etc. Chain restaurants should have standard menus and prices.

Mercedes Restaurant