What Makes a Website Bad?

When the question “What makes a website bad?” is asked, many things probably come to mind: never-ending text, too many pop-ups, terrible navigation. Here are some of the most common offenders. Avoid these like the plague…

Broken Links, Pages, and Images

When a website has non-responsive pages, links that go nowhere, or a blank space where an image used to be, it’s an obvious sign of neglect. A smart business owner—no matter how busy they may be—should be doing quality checks on their website at least once a week.

Mistakes like a broken link or image simply yell out careless, and if your website looks faulty, it will reflect badly on your services as well. Besides this, web pages without images look terrible.

Make sure you (or your digital marketing company that manages your website) is keeping regular quality checks on your pages.

There’s Too Much Going On

Just because you can design web pages with videos, colorful fonts, logos, gifs, text, photos, and virtual tours doesn’t mean you need to use them all at the same time.

Websites that have too much going on—whether it’s just an overwhelming pattern or trying to squeeze in tons of content—are nothing but distracting.

A user will typically click away because they’re trying to escape the insanity of the web page. A user wants an answer. They don’t want to visit a page and have to hunt for it amongst a jungle of content.

A good website design will have balanced web pages that are appealing and helpful.

It Has Never-Ending Pop-Ups

Yes, it might be important to let users know something important is going on with your business. A sale, an announcement, join our mailing list, etc. etc. etc.

However, anyone who has ever visited a website will tell you that it’s incredibly annoying to click out of a pop-up, only to have another one immediately sprout up at you.

And then another. Enough with the pop-ups and scrolling ads already! A good website design company will warn you about this. Limit your pop-ups to one at a time.

The Branding Doesn’t Fit the Service 

It would look odd if a luxury makeup brand’s website had an industrial vibe or a kid-style font, right? Or what if a rustic vegan restaurant’s website looked too sleek and upscale?

This is a common problem with clients. They want their website to have a style that simply does not match their actual business or product. Maybe it’s because they’re being unrealistic about their brand, or maybe they are trying to be abstract, or perhaps they simply don’t know any better.

But when the website design doesn’t match the business, it’s misleading and confusing.

This can cost the company customers if they are expecting something different. A website should reflect a business as accurately as possible, always.

It Has Poor UX

Nothing will get a user to click away faster than bad user experience (UX).

This can mean a lot of things. It can be a tab that goes to a broken page; it can be a “contact” section that is impossible to find; it can be sign-up forms that are way too complicated; it can be inscrutable buttons.

Basically, it can be anything that causes a user frustration or inconvenience. Website designers who know what they’re doing will avoid things like this, but it’s good for business owners to be aware of poor UX just in case since it can definitely cost you, customers.

It’s Not Capturing Data

A website is an excellent opportunity to begin building (or adding to) your data. This can be done through forms, email sign-ups, and by plugging Google Analytics into your site.

By implementing these tools, you can determine the general age and gender of your website visitors, and you can then begin to understand why they are drawn to your website, how they’re finding it, and how you can better market to them.

If a website isn’t utilizing forms, email sign-ups, and Google Analytics, it’s a huge mistake as you’re missing out on your own data…and your data is incredibly valuable.

The Message is Unclear 

It’s true that most users will know what a business does before they go onto its website.

However, just in case they aren’t already informed of a business and what it does, it’s obviously smart to make your message clear. Most likely, you have been on a website at least once in your life where you’ve struggled to understand what the company does.

This is never good.

Not that you have to spoon-feed your users—just don’t make them hunt for what you do. Many businesses make the mistake of trying to be so edgy that their users are left scratching their heads. Don’t be that business.

Be helpful and informative to your users while maintaining the branding that you want.

It’s Not Optimized for Mobile

Let’s say you have a great-looking, informative, very user-friendly website…for desktop. That’s fantastic. But is your website just as great-looking, informative, and user-friendly on mobile devices?

This is a critical part of website design that often gets overlooked. Every website now must be designed for both desktop and mobile devices, because they design ends up being fairly different.

Layouts, fonts, and images appear differently on a smartphone than they do on a desktop—and the percentage of website visits from 2016 to 2017 grew from 57% to 63%.

Mobile searches are clearly taking the lead, so it’s very important to make sure your website looks and works perfectly on both.

The Design Is Unattractive or Outdated

These days, there’s no excuse to have an unappealing website. The days of black text on neon a green background should be forever gone—but somehow, they aren’t.

We still see truly unattractive websites everywhere with decades-old graphics and wavy fonts, which is both tragic and unnecessary. If you’re a business owner with no creative eye, find a good website designer (or even a creative friend) to help you. And if you’re actually a website designer, you should know how to design a good-looking website.

The design should have colors that go together, fonts and logos that work hand-in-hand, and a good image/text balance. There’s obviously much more to it than that, but that’s a good place to begin.

Text Overload!

Every business owner wants their website to have lots of helpful information for their visitors, and that’s totally fine.

What’s not fine is when every web page on your site has 15,000 words on it. A website is not a novel, and no web page needs to have that much to read on it. Keep your text easy to read, and at around 500-700 words per page.

The Navigation Is a Nightmare

Good navigation is a huge part of friendly UX. Don’t put your company info in the “clients” section.

Don’t make your contact page hard to find. Don’t have way too many options or sub-menus. Don’t use “mystery buttons” that a user can’t figure out. It’s simple: keep navigation clear, easy, and satisfying.

Social Media is Nowhere to be Found

These days, nearly every business is on a social media platform of some kind. When most users are trying to find your official social media accounts, they’ll go straight to your website in order to make sure they’re finding the right one(s).

Having direct links to your official Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, or whatever else directly on the home page is a huge help.

Any social media marketing professional will tell you that businesses that have social media but do not display it on their website are making a mistake and probably costing themselves followers.

There are No Calls to Action

Nearly every page on your website should include a call to action. When a page doesn’t have a button or link encouraging users to “join our mailing list”, “register here to win”, “check out our blog”, etc., you are missing out on opportunities for both data collection and more user engagement.

Don’t let your web pages be “naked”—include a call to action anywhere you can. 

Videos Auto-Play Without Warning

This one is highly annoying. When a website automatically begins playing a video (or song), no one enjoys that.

No one. Allow the user to make the choice to click a video if they want to watch it.

Don’t force people to watch something or jump a mile when the loud music starts blasting at them from their screen.

It will just make them not want to re-visit your website.

No Proofreading Has Been Done

There is nothing less professional than website text that hasn’t been proofread. Spelling, grammatical, and formatting mistakes just scream out unprofessional.

Take the time to hire a good proofreader to make sure that everything on your website is perfect and ready for the world’s eyes. It doesn’t matter how small the sentence; proofreading is critical.

It Fails to Utilize SEO…

A great business with no SEO is truly sad.  So much of your website can be optimized for SEO marketing (search engine marketing), which is a free and extremely effective way of marketing.

Many business owners don’t take advantage of SEO simply because they don’t know about it, or how it works. Smart website designers will know how to incorporate SEO, but some actually don’t.

Sometimes, even the best website designers’ expertise stops at the design and doesn’t even go into SEO, as it’s really a world of its own. SEO can be utilized on every page of your website in the text, as well as in your URLs and within the back-end meta titles and meta descriptions on your website.

If you’re a business owner (or website developer) who doesn’t know how to harness the power of SEO marketing, it’s highly recommended that you consult a professional SEO team to help get your website going in this valuable area.

…Or it Has Too Much SEO

Okay, so maybe you or your website designer knows all about SEO marketing, and you’re eager to get those keywords all over your website.

But beware: a tell-tale sign of a bad website is one that has too much SEO optimization. This means that the text suffers from “keyword stuffing”, where sentences don’t flow correctly because they’re crammed with keywords and key phrases.

Besides making your content practically unreadable, keyword stuffing is damaging to your SEO marketing efforts because search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing are now smart enough that they can tell when too much SEO is being employed.

In other words, the search engines can tell when a writer is trying to fit in keywords where they don’t really belong. Unfortunately, this is a very common mistake that really does make websites look bad.

There are Way Too Many Pages

Many experts might argue this one. Some say that the more pages with content, the better.


Mostly for SEO purposes, because honestly, too many pages will be overwhelming for your website visitors. Even if you have a lot of information to get through for your business, there’s no need for excessive pages.

And if SEO is the only “good” reason to have so many pages, consider the fact that creating a web page that’s nearly identical to another one that has similar information will cause the search engines do not know which page to rank for—and you’ll basically be competing with yourself.

The “web page count” debate continues to change and shift, but the number one rule is to always keep your users in mind…and there aren’t very many users out there who love reading hundreds of web pages on the same website.

Don’t let bad websites happen to good businesses! If you’re currently designing your website or having it designed, use this article as a checklist on what not to do. Or if you already have a website, go through this list and make sure your site isn’t guilty of any of these.

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