Remember when you surfed the web and came across a Geocities page that basically was a mess and completely unreadable? There are a few MySpace pages out there with the same problem. Vincent Flanders has been talking about Web Pages that Suck for the last 13 years about those issues.
Over the years we have really evolved on website design. If you look at the Wayback Machine, you can see how sites like Yahoo, Microsoft and Google evolved. Heck, they have to: with newer web technologies, we have to be concerned about how the site looks, because that affects viewership. New sites show up daily that could easily start taking away traffic.
Nowadays with scripting, CSS, Ajax, Flash and a whole lot more, we run into a whole bunch of new issues. One browser would look awesome and the other would be discombobulated. Browsershots has the ability for you to look at your website through a whole list of browsers on multiple OS platforms. There are browsers out there that I didn’t even know of!
Still, we work our best on a site, but there might just be one thing that people either overlook or complain about only to be yelling on deaf ears. Little annoyances that might just make a person move away from that website. I know I have left websites after redesign simply because it doesn’t work for me anymore.
Therefore, I asked a group of people what one thing they would change about a website. I got a lot of feedback, which was great, but there were posts that really made me think – Therefore I posted those results.
Do you agree with it? Disagree? Let me know.
Website: Pasadena Star News
I would change the entire ad setup on the Pasadena Star-News web site pasadenastarnews because it loads extremely slowly. Go to another page on their web site and the new page loads just as slowly as the home page did.
I asked a colleague who is a webmaster, why it was so slow loading. Here’s his reply: “there are 131 files in total comprising the home page, and of those, 28 are scripts pulled from other sites. So, in reality you aren’t just downloading a single web page, you’re downloading 131 different files.”
Thoughts: I agree. I am amazed as to how many ads this site has. This is definitely a Newspaper thats trying to find a niche in the web world. Their identity is pretty bland. Thanks Tom, this is definitely something to watch out for.
The recently designed CNN.com is really a very nice website — the layout is clean and articles are easy to reference and read.
But the one thing that annoys me is that the main navigation and logo are left-justified while the entire site contents are centered. So, on a wider screen, like a laptop, the navigation ends up way on the left, while the content is nicely positioned in the center. Even the extended footer is centered.
Why couldn’t they simply center everything including the navigation? The funny thing is that the search field at the very top of the website (just above the navigation) is centered with the rest of the site. Ack! Everything is centered but the navigation. Go figure.
Brian Blankenship (aka, tenacious b)
Interactive Creative Director @
Thoughts: The CNN header is separate from the actual website on the home page. It feels like the header is a frame outside the actual page. When you move from page to page, sometimes an ad pops in there, too which resizes the height of the bar. I agree with Brian that this is annoying.
If the header content is resized to the page width, that would make it look a lot better.
Website: Google Reader
Hey there. Just thought I’d write in with this, as I tweeted it, and then saw your HARO request, and figured I’d send it over.
I’m often reading Google Reader when I’m on a quick break from my work. I don’t have a long time to read posts, and I find that there are links I’d like to check out later on. To check it out, I’d like to drag the permalink (from within Google Reader) to my Bookmarks bar, which is a constantly in-flux cache of “things I want to check out when I have time”. But the permalinks in Google Reader aren’t draggable! I’m not sure what they’ve done to them, as they’re normal anchor tags, but for some reason, they can’t be dragged onto the bookmark bar, even though normal, everyday links can be dropped on the bookmark bar easily.
Thoughts: Interesting idea. Drag and drop to Bookmarks would be a great idea. However, it would then take the content out of Googles’ grasp. Instead, they want you to “Star” the item. It’s their own little bookmark system.
I am not a big Bookmark person. My bookmarks have become wastelands of shortcuts. With Firefox, there is a little better organization with the tagging feature. Maybe that Google search option on the top right hand corner should be expanded so you can get to your Google “Stars”.
Website:Happiness In this World
Website: Transmission Reliability Project
The background is a light-colored map, which drowns the text and makes it harder to read. The background scrolls with the text – locking it would at least allow users to scroll the text for better contrast. The text size is too small, and there’s no way to change it.
Thoughts: This is interesting. When I looked at this website on my Desktop, I saw exactly what Bill was talking about. When I ported over to my laptop, the view is completely different. Nonetheless, I agree with Bill – A busy background can be an issue. The site could increase the font size to make it easier to read, however, the best choice is to remove that background altogether.
Help menus. It’s an area that is usually an afterthought (my firm designs and builds sites, so we see this firsthand!), but should have entire teams devoted to it. When your visitor/customer turns to the help menu, they’re actually asking you for something. They’re frustrated. They’re agitated. They need *help*. When the help menu is as frustrating as the site or–worse–totally useless, how do you think that customer feels about your brand as a whole?
It’s the best opportunity to turn somebody into a devotee (a classic case of “it’s not the problem, it’s how you solve it” customer service maxim), and yet so few sites give it any accord. Visit Bank of America’s help page on their site for possibly the worst example on the web!
Thoughts: Interesting input, Brent. The first thing when I see the Bank Of America help page is “It’s sterile”. Photos of people smiling has been proven to calm someone down. Feng Shui is a key – especially in a website.
Website:This webpage is behind a protected Wall. However, Steve makes a good point.
One thing I’d change is the “This Website is designed only for (browser) and may not work for you.” that you find on websites. Although it looks like it’s been taken down now, “Why Firefox Is Blocked”
Thoughts: The answer is that website uses programs like ActiveX, which in turn, does not work on Firefox. If it is about ActiveX, then there is a Plug-in that might allow you to run this website. It is called FF-Active-Host.
Although the plugin is there, I would be weary to use it. ActiveX can be a back door to malware. You might want to update your Internet Explorer and use it. If you are on a Mac or Linux system, you might have to use this FF Active Host, but I would still disable this plug-in if you don’t need it.
This is a little unfair because you’re not the worst offender or even close but there are so many sites that have so much going on on their home page that they look like a “design pizza” and visitors don’t know where to begin. So one thing I would change is to simplify and focus what the page is about.
Thoughts: Heh. Ya caught me. One of the reasons why I was doing this was so I can get an idea what to do and what not to do for Geekazine’s website. I just never heard “Pizza Design” term before. I also didn’t realize that it didn’t really portray what I was doing on Geekazine. Thanks for the candid comments Ed!
One thing I’ve been told about Geekazine is it was too tight – too much information in an area. This was interesting, because I chose a large width in it’s design and I still don’t have room to put content in it.
I have been making some changes to the site. There are more on the way.
Here is one from Me.
I used to be a big Photoshop creator. I still do it from time to time, but not as much as I used to. After a while I would judge the contests – look through the site and rank. When they redesigned the site, I felt it was a little too big – I had to scroll around a lot. The old page had the photoshop pictures in a smaller thumbnail. I then had to select the picture if I wanted to see the larger size.
The only way to not scroll is to collapse the sections. Once that happened, I couldn’t see the section unless I un-collapsed it. Since I wasn’t as active as I used to be, I basically moved on subconsciously. Every now and then I look at the page, but it is not an “Everyday” process like it used to be.
Summary: The best part of doing this article is that I got to look through someone elses’ eyes. I was impressed with the ideas I can use to work on my websites. Many websites – from the simple blog to the corporate website – can sometimes need another point of view so it can improve.
Thanks to everyone for sending their ideas. Do you have a Website that could change one thing? Agree or Disagree with the article? Comment below and let me know.