The 20 Worst Non-Profit Websites of 2007: #10-1
If a commercial website sucks, it generally only affects the employees and stockholders of the company. Hopefully, they have the qualifications to go out and find another job if their company fails.
When a non-profit website sucks, the organization's clients get hurt — and they already are in a vulnerable state or they wouldn't be clients. There's more at stake with a non-profit website and there's more responsibility to "get it right."
Obviously some clients of non-profit organizations, like universities, don't get hurt in the same way as a homeless shelter's clients would get hurt. Still, a poorly designed website tarnishes the luster of an organization (Brown University comes to mind.)
For examples of other non-profit and not-for-profit websites that suck, also read: The 10 Worst Web Pages Featured on Web Pages That Suck in 2006. In 2006, I didn't separate non-profit from for-profit websites. This list contains Brown University (their home page), NEIU Foreign Exchange Lab, HRODC, Accept Jesus, Forever Forgiven!, and the Association of International Glaucoma Societies.
Note: It's been eight years since this list was posted. Some/Many/Most/All of these websites have probably been fixed. If you find any, let me know which sites don't match up.
The following are the worst non-profit websites that appeared on Web Pages That Suck in 2007.
10. Hartnell College
Why do designers copy obviously bad ideas? Brown University's home page is not something you want to copy unless your goal is to confuse your visitors into thinking they're at Brown University.
As one commentator stated, "By God! Heading here, heading there! Whoa, heading back here. You can probably develop vertigo or a pretty good headache just by scrolling down while paying attention to where the headings are placed."
Submitter's comments: I was looking at a few of your sites that suck for some examples to show some students and saw Brown University's home page. I was then looking to find some awful navigation and this site came up on Google on the first page: http://www.hartnell.edu/.
The navigation is just like Brown's but the page is actually worse.
Vincent Flanders' comments: Ooh. If you put your mouse at the top of the links on the right, and then move down and let your mouse rest on "Online Courses", the section scrolls up and you have to chase the link. Brown University is the same sucky way.
We also have a promo movie that automatically starts. Lovely.
The biggest problem is the lack of contrast on the pages. I ran the Academics page through AccessColor and, as this page shows, there were contrast issues with the text and background that make the page hard to read.
9. New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs
Lots of folks don't believe web pages like the "Services" page really exist. Yes, Link City is a real location.
The home page is not quite as atrocious as the "Services" page, but it comes close. Where's the focus? There are also contrast issues between the links and the background.
Submitter's comments: I know that government agencies tend to be slow pen-pushing behemoths at the best of times, except when it comes to claiming taxes. This website is a brilliant example of bureaucratic thinking brought to the web.
Vincent Flanders' comments: Another big issue is the lack of contrast between the links and the background color.
One of the sites you must visit when creating your website is AccessColor. You type in the URL of the page you want to check, click the "Full report" radio button, and then click "Check" and the program tells you how well your text contrasts with the background. Unfortunately but logically, it doesn't check text on images.
If you use the full URL of the home page http://www.dia.govt.nz/diawebsite.nsf, you're told that "Both color difference and color brightness do not meet the recommended standard for 25% of the total text."
8. University of Edinburgh Department of Architecture
You need to click around the high graphics version to see the full measure of its stupidity. After you get past the pretentious and low-contrast splash page, click on "Programmes" for a real treat. A new menu partially obscures the old menu. You have to see it to believe it. Then click on the "Main Navigation" link. Amazing.
Submitter's comments: Edinburgh School of Architecture “Full Graphics Version” -- and this site is meant to appreciate the beauty of functional design…
Vincent's comments: I love coincidence. I received another email from an ex-coworker of mine. Her daughter -- I'll call her "Anne" -- was graduating from high school and the big ceremony was yesterday. Anne was a lovely little girl, but then I realized it had been 10 years since I last saw her. It's little events like this that really make you feel old. It turns out Anne is going to college for the next five years to be an architect. Hey, Anne. Don't make your website look like this one or the others above.
You also have to admire the TITLE tag -- "Welcome to the Department of Architecture."
7. Project Justice for Animals
Here's another one for the record books (if it isn't in there already).
Submitter's comments: This practically breaks every rule of good web design. I wonder who thinks this would be a good idea? Gotta love the title of the homepage too, "index."
Vincent's comments: The site is Project Justice for Animals. The links are, at best, vague descriptions "A story," "Reality," etc. I don't have the nerve to click them. The home page is a mess.
6. Oceanside High School Class of 1960
High school still sucks.
Here is a link to yet another sucker that combines animated GIF, clip-art, and content overkill within a sprawling vertical page featuring a navigational system at the BOTTOM of the page augmented by page-embedded links (obscured by the frequent, seemingly random use of font decorations and styles).
Submitter's comments: The most notable feature of this 'sucker' is that following any given link on this page brings you to an even more horrific page than you've just come from. This link, for example, provides the user with directions (at the bottom of the page) on how to use his/her browser to navigate the site.
You won't be disappointed with the many layers of 'suckiness' you will discover at this site.
Vincent Flanders' comments: Sad. The only positive I can come up with is I've finally found someone older than I am.
Other comments #1: Not only is this site very tacky, but the thing that drives me up the wall the most about this site is how a lot of the images and even the text looked "scrunched", like you're taking an image of one size and specifying a smaller size to try to fit it into, and that never works out well. Tacky...very tacky.
Other comments #2:That line "best viewed with IE version thus-and-so at resolution such-and-such" really means "my computer has that version of IE and that's my screen resolution and I can't be bothered to install any other browser or change my screen resolution." Sheer laziness on the part of the web page author, really.
5. Jesus Christ is the ONLY way to heaven!
WWJDIHSTWS? What Would Jesus Do If He Saw This Website?
Whenever I see seemingly religious websites like this one, the number 1135 comes to mind. That's 1135 as in John 11:35 — "Jesus wept."
Submitter's comments: Ran across this one last night. While I am a deeply committed Christian, I must take issue with their slams against contemporary Christian music, modern Bible translations, and Catholics. Oh, and their website is a real doozy.
Vincent Flanders' comments: This is a really good example of Mistake #6 from Biggest Mistakes in Web Design 1995-2015 — "Have you ever seen another website? Really? Doesn't look like it." I call this type of design the "I haven't taken my antipsychotics in a while school of web design."
You have to love the Internet because that's where I found the quote. In the Catholic Church I grew up in (pre-Vatican II), nobody studied the Bible. We read stories like the Prodigal Son and the workers in the field who got paid the same regardless of the hours worked (talk about the need for unionizing). We can't quote chapter and verse so when we want a Bible verse, the Internet is a godsend.
This site is so obviously bad even a blind person can see the mistakes. If you can't, go through Does My website Suck? Checklist 1 - Fatal Mistakes.
Other comments #1: I love that page. If it were a movie, it would be an Ed Wood film. Beer Kills!
You have to appreciate the sheer effort to get all that stuff on the page, if not the execution. I think it works well for its target audience. Mediocre web design for a feeble-minded audience.
Other comments #2: I am both a web designer and an extremely conservative Christian. This site offends both of those. First, the content: if you're going to make a site to tell people how they should act and live, you should make sure the validity of your arguments. "Real" Christian music doesn't have drums? (OK, I'm a little ashamed to admit that I read that far into the page...) But then, the design! Actually I don't want to talk about it. It makes my gassy to think someone might associate this clown with me and my friends.
4. United States Marine Corps
The Few. The Proud. The Badly Designed.
Submitter's comments: It’s my first time contributing to Web Pages that Suck. As a web designer, it is so educational and amusing to see site great sites fail due to a lack of organization and functionality. I have been gaining an interest in looking into branches of our military, and looking at opportunities offered for schooling and career development. One would think that easy navigation and user-friendly content would be the goal of trying to recruit young men and women into the military, and this holds true for the USAF, Navy, and Army…but not for the Marines. Upon going to the official recruitment site for the US Marines, I got this… The Marines
If you check it out…the site is entirely in Flash, every nav button has horrible mystery meat qualities…and the site map might be a glimpse of hope…but it is tiny. One can click on the parent’s guide, but the information is not as rich as the other branches…
Bottom line is, I got frustrated at the lack of functionality, and find it hard to believe that someone either won the bid to create this, or a Marine was allowed to create this. My criticisms span only on the site. Though it is a clean one clearly based on visual appeal, it made me want to die.
Vincent Flanders' comments: "...made me want to die" is probably not the best thing to say about the Marines...
The two most important words in web design are "It depends." This is one of those "It depends" websites.
Yes, everything the person submitting the site said is true. On the other hand, I imagine the site appeals to its target audience and I think that sums it up quite well.
Vincent, I would like to nominate this site for one of the worst websites of 2007. A site like this, while some may like it, is very unbecoming of a site for a branch of our military forces.
Other comments #2: The dialup version preceded the ultra-Flash version by a year apparently. The dialup HTML version of the sitemap requires a lot of scrolling. A scrolling page is only good for assembling and organizing elements and information that are to be put on finished pages, but a scrolling page should never be published on a website except as an example of what not to use as a finished page. A scroller is just a big notepad.
The original HTML Parental guide has been upgraded (or downgraded) with the newer overlays. Overlay photos just ruin a page and should never be used. Photos should never be overlayed with script. Large fonts do just the opposite of what the page builder intends, it slows down comprehension and requires a greater number of confusing pages on a website Perhaps the websmasher gets paid by the page instead of quality or comprehension.
The Flash sitemap navigation absolutely does suck, so do the dark sinister backgrounds. This was probably a fairly decent site before the Flash and over-enlarged photos were introduced. With any luck it can be put back as it was and finished properly.
Other comments #3: Mystery Meat on a shingle.
3. University of Wisconsin-Madison Visual Culture
Well, college is good for many things. In the 60's we indulged in bad drugs; today, kids indulge in bad web design. Normally, I would say that it's better to indulge in bad web design, but this site makes me rethink my position.
Submitter's comments: I'm afraid I must report the Visual Culture program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for its egregious Mystery Meat Navigation.
Sure, they're dealing with visual culture, obviously, but it's also housed at a university, so IMO they have an obligation to make the page clear and accessible.
Vincent Flanders' comments: When are designers going to learn how to bypass the Eolas patent plugin problem? Heck, Dreamweaver 8.0 practically forces the solution down your throat. We also have some color issues with internal pages.
Other comments #1: The MMN is bad enough by itself. What's worse is, it's Flash-based. This, IMHO, is WORSE than the MMN-laden site for Brown University's graduate school from a couple years back. At least they didn't use Flash, and seeing as how they made the top 10 list for suckiest pages of 2005, I think these guys should be in 2007's top 10 suckiest list.
Other comments #2: What frightens me the most is the fact that an entire generation of web designers is being led to believe this kind of bad web design is actually good and proper! Who or what is behind this culture of such extraordinary ignorance?
Other comments #3: I just love the HTML pages - the four boxes at the bottom. Each page's title is "title" and the Opportunities page body copy is simply the word "body." If you don't have copy for a page, don't put it up. Why didn't they just slap an "under construction" animated GIF while they were at it for pete's sake?
As for the Flash, why I have nothing better to do than sit and wait for some stupid animation to finish EVERY TIME I click a link! What were they thinking?
2. NASA's STS-108 Interactive Page
Make the hurting stop, please. Can you take this page from NASA for more than three seconds?
I offer you this loathsome beauty, which should bear a big banner which reads, "WARNING: NOT SAFE FOR SUFFERERS OF EPILEPSY, MIGRAINE, OR MOTION SICKNESS."
Submitter's comments: I've now seen, thanks to a friend of mine who's a (competent) Web designer, some pages which benefit greatly from their heavy use of Flash. This ain' t one of 'em.
Vincent Flanders' comments: Well, the "real" page isn't quite as bad. Unfortunately, under "Related Links" is the link to today's sucker. Why in the name of God do they want an STS-108 Interactive version?
Other comments #1: I helped pay for this cartoon? Dammit I want my money to help do productive stuff, not make animations. Who in the world approved this crap?
Other comments #2: WOW!! This manages to combine every Flash technique I've ever seen into one package. This is amazing!! Bravo to the Flash developer (I am KILLING myself laughing as I type this. This is website suckage at it's best.)
Other comments #3: For a NASA page, this looks very, very unprofessional. The clip art at the start looks like something from Microsoft Word, many of the images and text styles look like dull filler. The crew photos look extremely blurry.
Honorary #1 Worst Non-Profit Website of 2007 — Unamesa
The Unamesa website was the Daily Sucker for November 21, 2007, and was guaranteed the #1 position — but then they fixed it.
Submitter’s comments: Here’s yet another really bad Mystery Meat Navigation page. This site disclaims the use of the graphic with this statement:
“The grid above shows a graphical index into the UnaMesa wiki where this virtual organization coordinates itself. The GO button above will take you directly to pages in the wiki. You can also do a custom search across all projects and sites associated with the UnaMesa Association.”
This is the “excuse” they give us for presenting this strange looking graphic on their entry page where users get to “learn” about the organization. Give me a break! I think it’s okay to suck for a while when you’re getting your feet wet and you want something to be usable in a hurry, but this is ridiculous.
This isn’t an issue of sucking while trying to get better, this is a regressive suck. It might have a glimmer of hope if the blocks were miniature images of some sort giving the viewer at least some clue on what the link would take them to. In this case, no such luck - in order to find out where the link takes you, the user must mouse over the block.
Vincent Flanders’ comments: I love the folks who send in suggestions because they’re soooo clever. “Regressive” suck. That’s such a wonderful description.
Unless some godawful excuse for a non-profit organization pops up, it looks like we have the winner for "The Worst Nonprofit Website of 2007." Wait a minute, I just went to the page and looked at the examples. I need to take back that last statement. What I should have said is, “We have another contender for The Worst Nonprofit Website of 2007.
Unamesa (as it now looks)
1. Worst Non-Profit Web Site of 2007 — One Laptop Per Child
There's nothing wrong (and a lot that is right) with helping kids in the third-world get a laptop. There IS something wrong about forcing them to swallow Mystery Meat (Navigation) to use the interface.
One person made a non-design comment that should be reflected upon:
My daughter is in the Peace Corp in Tanzania. Alleviating starvation and AIDS would seem to be prerequisite...books and teachers would be useful...paper and pencils...clothing...and electricity would also seem to be educational necessities. I believe in technology in education - but first things first.
The usability of the site is fitting for a cause that is at best a well-intentioned ostrich. The cost of that laptop would feed a child for a year in Tanzania so send an equal donation for food and AIDS relief.
Submitter's comments:The point of this email to you is about the website for the "One Laptop Per Child," which is at http://www.laptop.org/. As you can tell, it has a "SPLASH!!" page that uses Mystery Meat Navigation (MMN), for which I'm not really getting the whole story on what each link does. What does that arrow do? Oh, I see. Those graphics spell out "ONE - LAPTOP - **PER** - CHILD". That's a Participate link? That would have been my last guess.
Once you actually get into the website, the website also uses MMN for where you would have to hover over one of the 4 main links on the top to get to other daughter web pages from the parent homepage.
Although the One Laptop Per Child foundation was obviously formed to give one laptop per child in developing countries, I don't think their website should be designed for children as an audience. It should have been done better who is targeted more for adults to look at what that project stands for.
Vincent Flanders' comments: This is truly depressing. I realize children in developing countries can't read, but is the solution Mystery Meat Navigation for everyone? Take a look at the interface. Sigh.
The splash page isn't necessary -- except they have to have it to describe the navigation used on the site.
Actually, I'm somewhat wrong about reading. They're offering an e-book reader, which implies that somebody can read. Sheesh. This is upsetting.
Other comments #1: After a segment aired on 20/20 about OLPC, I visited this website to donate some money. However, there wasn't anyplace to donate online. I guess someone was too busy to verify a PayPal account.
Anyway, I wrote them and got a form letter back. They clearly didn't even read my email, which asked if I could donate online.
Talk about sucky. OLPC had a segment on 20/20 of all shows, which has a guarantee of decent viewership. I was ready to fork over $200 for the cause. Such a pity.
Other comments #2: Read an article yesterday - it appears that the children in Zambia are using their newly acquired laptops to visit porn sites. Cute, huh. The manufacturers stated that they are going to install filters in the next batch they send. I also agree wholeheartedly with comment #2. How far would $100+ go to giving these kids a better life? Rhetorical.