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Bad web design smells up your website

The Ten Worst Websites of 2011—First Quarter Contenders

NOTE: The final rankings for the year have been established. I've left the "losers" behind and removed commentary from the sites that "made the big time." The winners can be found at:

The Worst Websites of 2011
The Worst Website Navigation of 2011
Worst Over-The-Top Websites of 2011

Original commentary: The first three months of this year were interesting because I've tried not to feature as many Over-The-Top Websites as before.

It's worth noting that there seem to be fewer of these artistically challenged site but, once again, there were an abundance of bad navigation metaphors, with Mystery Meat Navigation leading the way.

Interestingly, only one large corporation made the list. Large corporations usually have the resources to have acceptable-looking websites, although they may make serious mistakes on subpages. Trader Joe's comes to mind.

10. National Geospatial Intelligence Agency

Contender for worst web site of 2011

Gosh. If I remember correctly, the government—especially the military—doesn’t support Flash. Of course, our swirling cloud of links is a swirling Flash cloud of links. This screenshot of the original home page, taken on a wide-screen monitor, demonstrates why a liquid layout may not be best type of layout to use.

I will refrain from making any jokes about the word “intelligence” in the organization’s name.

Other comments #1: I don't know. Shouldn't a Geospatial agency study geospatial problems? They certainly show a geospatial conundrum on this web site. I mean isn't that the purpose?

Other comments #2: I clicked on something in the foreground but actually clicked one in the background. Got a result but have no idea for what because there was no confirmation of action. If you want to get lost and stay that way, this is the site for you!

Other comments #3: I think this fails the "Man from Mars" test— the site is full of acronyms and there's no statement of what it's about. The motto "Know the Earth....Show the Way" does not help the least little bit. 

Also, the left edge of the cloud of links gets cut off. So you get "EPWATER HORIZON" instead of "DEEPWATER HORIZON" and so forth.

Screenshot of the original home page,

National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (They've changed their URL. This is new and they've "fixed" the mistakes. You may receive a "connection refused" message.)

The original URL was egeoint.nrlssc.navy.mil/

Screenshot of the original home page,

National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (They've changed their URL. This is new and they've "fixed" the mistakes. You may receive a "connection refused" message.)

The original URL was egeoint.nrlssc.navy.mil/

9. Bear Flag Wine

a contender for worst web site of 2011

 I love this site because the designer chose to randomly scatter the navigation across the home page. They even worked the links to Facebook and Twitter into the confusing and ultra-busy artwork.

Nobody should be forced to scroll horizontally. It took a while for me to figure it out since I’m not used to trying to figure out where the navigation is located.

If you click on “Find Us,” it’s impossible to get back to the home page. Even hitting the [back] button doesn’t help. The problem with offering News is that you need to update your news. The last news item was from September 22, 2009.

Other comments #1: I did not scroll vertically, horizontally, or diagonally. I just closed the page and went on my way. Now that I'm ancient I keep reminding myself that humans are born bereft of any pre-packaged intelligence and that a large percentage of the population purposely chooses to remain wrapped in a comfortable blanket of ignorance all of their lives.

Other comments #2 Unpretentious, for certain. Still, the site fails because it lacks focus.

I certainly wouldn't want to drink anything with a label that looked even remotely like this. I am one of those folks who think your branding should reflect your product, at least in some measure. By the looks of it, Bear Flag Wine and "Two Buck Chuck" might one day occupy adjacent places on the shelves at Trader Joe's.

Bear Flag Wine

Bear Flag Wine

8. Toronto Research Chemicals (tie)

a contender for worst web site of 2011

Submitter’s comments: This is the home page of a company that sells mostly esoteric chemicals to the research community. Personally, I think the Flash animation is an 8/10 on the Suckometer.

Vincent Flanders’ comments: That’s why I love my readers. I’d also give it an 8 on the Suckometer. If you just let the FlashSplash page finish, you’ll get a mission-statement sounding pile of platitudes: “Bringing You Products for Innovative Research.” The Flash animation of a chemical ring is also a waste of bandwidth and the color combinations are ugly. The text on the “About Us” page is obscured by a picture of some buildings or something.

To paraphrase the great American philosopher Carlos Irwin Estévez: “Duh. Losing.”

Toronto Research Chemicals

8. TNT Events (tie)

a contender for worst web site of 2011

This site made #8 on Worst Over-The-Top Websites of 2011.

7. Sabletine Fine Pastries

One of the worst websites of 2011

This site made #7 on The Worst Website Navigation of 2011.

6. Davide Cernuschi

a contender for worst web site of 2011

This site made #2 on The Worst Website Navigation of 2011.

5. Gordon Wayne Watts Official Research Page

Another of the worst sites of 2011

This site made #7 on Worst Over-The-Top Websites of 2011.

4. Ben the Bodyguard

Ben the Bodyguard sucks

Watch the video. May be NSFW.

Fast Company has the background details.

Ben the Bodyguard (the website)

3. Anthem Health

This is a contender for worst web site of 2011

This site made #5 on The Worst Website Navigation of 2011.

2. P&M Computers

#2 worst website of 2011 candidate

This site made #7 on The Worst Websites of 2011.

1. The Serene Experience

(Mildly NSWF. Tasteful photos of nude women.)

Number1 worst website of 2011 contender
This site made #2 on the The Worst Websites of 2011.