Why are "terrible websites" terrible?

Published on February 14, 2018
Why are "terrible websites" terrible?

Designers (myself included) take personal offense at cheesy, badly designed—or barely designed—websites. But the web is littered with them, especially the realm of small businesses and privately owned restaurants. Recall cheesy auto-playing music on restaurant websites, swirly header fonts, ridiculous background images and textures, Papyrus.

We hate this because it goes against our schooling and sensibilities and what we know "successful" design to be, but businesses don't fail because of their shit websites. We don't change our mind about going to a restaurant because their menu is set in comic sans. (Okay, some designers do, but certainly not the general population). In fact, business owners that make these sites and their customers like menus set in comic sans. Papyrus feels appropriately cultural to them, goofy illustrations are seen as charming and friendly.

By what standard, then, are they bad? Should designers be embracing this, when there is such demand and warm reception? Can we achieve the same effect in a way that we do consider to be good design—even while using those fonts we'd usually throw in the trash? Can we be proud of these designs instead of feeling like we're making sacrifices for clients that we see as having poor taste?

3 Responses

  • Daniel Secor

    Daniel Secor

    Bad visually designed website is, yes, Bad !!! But a poor navigation is an even worse offense to me.

    1 year ago • Reply
  • tyler walker

    tyler walker

    the juxtaposition of thought and image in this post suggest that Hudson Valley Talentbase is an example of a terrible website.

    1 year ago • Reply
  • Jordan Christie

    Jordan Christie

    I think a terrible website is terrible when it fails to appropriately tell the story of what the business is about. A medical office website splattered with comic-sans doesn't depict the professionalism of the office's environment (I hope 😂). I think great design reflects personality.

    1 year ago • Reply