27 Cringe Worthy Website Design Mistakes to Avoid

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27 Cringe Worthy Website Design Mistakes to Avoid

Having a website is kind of a big deal. Everyone from major corporations, local businesses, lifestyle coaches and artists require websites to not only sell products or services, but to keep visitors informed on the latest news, contact information, and provide customer service. In the 21st Century, it’s a crucial part of your business

One of the most important parts of a website is its design. But, how vital is a website’s design? For starters, 94% of people have cited design as the reason they do not trust a website. If people don’t trust your website, you’re losing out on customers or visitors. If you avoid stock photography and pre-made templates, you can earn visitors trust.

However, having a website that looks nice is only part of the equation. It needs to flow, load quickly, and be organized. It also needs to contain a purpose and relevant content for your niche and target audience. Finally, it has to be functional. If the email link on your website isn’t working, how can people contact you?

While that may be a lot to digest, taking the time and effort in properly designing your website will be beneficial in the long haul. When you notice fewer bounce rates and gain more visitors, you’ll be glad that you didn’t make any website design mistakes.

Or, you could check out the following 27 websites. Each one has made some sort of fatal flaw in the design of their website that definitely will turn visitors away in disgust. We’re not trying to be mean here. We just hate seeing people make the same mistakes over and over again.

1. The World’s Worst Website

2014-03-13 18_16_13-The World's Worst Website Ever!Screen Shot of The World’s Worst Website 3/13/14

We’re well aware that this was designed to be terrible on purpose. And, it definitely achieved that task. If you’re looking for an example of how not to design a website this would be it. Mistakes include: excessive amount of animated gifs, animated marquees, and site elements that are completely pointless and useless.

2. The Afterlife

2014-03-13 18_15_55-The AfterlifeScreen Shot of The Afterlife 3/13/14

Ugh. We don’t know about you, but we got a migraine after landing on this site. We think that this was supposed to give visitors a glimpse into the afterlife, but instead it just gives people a nauseating experience. Besides serving absolutely no purpose, it’s full of tacky animated gifs that can result in serious injury if you stare at them too long.

3. Time Cube

2014-03-13 18_12_29-Time CubeScreen Shot of Time Cube 3/13/14

This site was created by “Dr.” Gene Ray to explain his model of reality – aka the ‘Time Cube’. Unfortunately, our friend the Doctor failed at his attempt. This is site is full of giant lettering, all-caps, and statements that make zero sense. In short, this is a glimpse into the mind of a madman.

4. Ling’s Cars


This site is so hideous that there is no way that it’s legit. But, we can’t verify that for certain. On top of the annoying gifs, like that rooster wandering around the page, it’s just not easy on the eyes. There’s just way too much going on, including the singing lady for good  measure. With everything going on, how can a person focus on leasing a car?

5. Arngryn.net

2014-03-13 18_08_40-ATV, QR X350, walkera, drone, elbil, elsykkel, kamera, oversetter, translatør, tScreen Shot of Arngryn.net 3/13/14

Basically, this just looks like the designer created a gigantic classifieds section and threw up all sorts of gadgets and vehicles that are available for purchase. This Norwegian version of Amazon.com is extremely disorganized and harsh on the eyes.

6. Reforms.net

2014-03-13 18_08_24-Reforms_ EverGrowingScreen Shot of Reforms.net 3/13/14

We believe that an art director named Arron Bleasdale is behind this site. Which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. You would think that someone with talent could create a site that offers more than just a series of slides where site visitors click from left to right. That’s it. Seriously. There’s no other navigation except to Arron’s two other websites.

7. Ron Oslund’s Homepage

2014-03-13 18_07_53-Ron Oslund's Home Page !Screen Shot of Ron Oslund’s Homepage 3/13/14

Back in the mid-90’s this site would have blown your mind with it’s groundbreaking technology. But, that was almost a decade ago. Today, this is just another example of how not to design your website. Not only is it loud with no consistency to tie it together, it’s full of outdated links. To be fair, the site was last updated in 2001. We’re just curious as to why it’s still up.

8. Dokimos

2014-03-13 18_02_39-ACCEPT JESUS, FOREVER FORGIVEN!Screen Shot of Dokimos 3/13/14

WARNING: This site will cause nausea.

If you don’t believe us, then go ahead and click on the link. We’re certain the background with speeding rainbow colors won’t make you feel like you’re having a seizure or anything.

9. Constellation Seven

2014-03-13 18_03_56-† WELCOME TO THE REVELATION OF OUR TIME † A 21ST CENTURY TAPESTRY IN CHRIST †Screen Shot of Constellation Seven 3/13/14

This site has some of the worst color combinations, patterns, and sounds we’ve come across. In fact, we can’t even read the content because we left with a serious migraine. Once again, another website that may cause nausea or a seizure.

10. Dreams of the Great Earth Changes

2014-03-13 18_01_51-DREAMS OF THE GREAT EARTH CHANGESScreen Shot of Dreams of the Great Earth Changes 3/13/14

Upon opening this site you’ll notice a friendly message: “Please refresh your page to get the latest issue”. Now we’re not all web designers, but we’re about 100% sure that’s not how websites operate. On top of that, we have no clue what this site is about and aren’t fans of the purple background. Worst of all, they added new content January 16, 2014. That means that someone is still investing time and money into this site.

11. Wisconsin Register of Deeds Association

2014-03-13 17_56_32-Wisconsin Register of Deeds AssoScreen Shot of Wisconsin Register of Deeds Association 3/13/14

Just because you’re an agency dealing with boring information doesn’t mean you must have a website no one wants to visit. For example, there’s the unattractive color scheme that will definitely do a number on your eyes. There’s also the background based on Monopoly cards and the hard-to-read type. If you’re going to have a horrid site, at least have large enough lettering so that we can read it without straining our eyes.

12. Jamil Lin Blog

2014-03-13 17_57_01-Feng Shui Interior DesignScreen Shot of JamiLin Blog 3/13/14

For someone who has built a career out of the art of Feng Shui, you would think that their website would be crisp, clean, and have a nice flow. Instead, Jamil Lin blog’s opted for neutral colors with clashing colors. Besides making it unattractive, the content is difficult to read and navigate.

13. Alpha1 TecLabs

2014-03-13 17_57_22-Alpha1TecLabs Bristol UK ISP Web Hosting Domain Names Email Web Design PC RemoteScreen Shot of Alpha 1 TecLabs 3/13/14

At first we thought this was a site hadn’t been updated in a decade or so. The signs? The insane amount of gifs. A fax number. Yes. A fax number. But, apparently the site was last updated on March 9, 2014. And, it even gets worse. We didn’t even mention that this is a web hosting service in the UK. Sometimes you can’t make this stuff up.

14. Mr. Bottles

2014-03-13 17_51_48-Antique Bottle Collectors Resource _ Sharing Wisconsin Antique Bottle CollectingScreen Shot of Mr. Bottles 3/13/14

We think there were good intentions here. How else can you make the world of antique bottles exciting, right? However, the end result was a site featuring clashing colors and graphics which made the content difficult to read, as well as, to navigate.

15. Sosbee vs. FBI

2014-03-13 17_51_25-Geral W. Sosbee vs. fbi, Whistle Blower, ex-FBI Agent of the United States of AmScreen Shot of Sosbee vs. FBI 3/13/14

Obviously, the internet is the perfect incubator for conspiracy theories. So, wouldn’t you want your website that features a conspiracy theory to at least look good and be coherent? You know. To make visitors believe you have some sort of credibility? Well, that didn’t happen with this site. It appears like the ramblings of mad person.

16. DS+R

2014-03-13 17_48_38-diller scofidio + renfroScreen Shot of DS+R 3/13/14

Remember the game Guess Who? That is what this site reminds us of. That and riding a tilt a whirl.  We’re guessing as you scroll along the site you’re supposed to be getting a glance of the work that these architects have been a part of. Instead, you get a little light-headed. Besides that offense, the information loads too slow and is not fluid. We’d hate to view this site on our phone or tablet.

17. Historian of the Future

2014-03-13 17_46_04-Mozilla FirefoxScreen Shot of Historian of the Future 3/13/14

Another example of a website where we have no idea what’s going – even though the name is kinda cool. Oh, yeah. There’s also the classy black background with the neon writing.

18. Urbex Engineering Ltd

2014-03-13 17_44_21-Urbex EngineeringScreen Shot of Urbex Engineering Ltd 3/13/14

Want to see an example of a completely useless website? Look no further. A bulk of the site has been ‘under construction’ for about a decade. Even with that failure, this is an uninspired site that could use a major overhaul.

19. Sixties Press

2014-03-13 17_42_09-Sixties Press Poetry Magazine - HomeScreen Shot of Sixties Press 3/13/14

Another perfect example of a website that features type enclosed in a horrid block. It might have looked decent 20 years ago. Today, it’s unprofessional and does nothing aesthetically. When will people learn?

20. John Procario

2014-03-13 17_36_25-John Procario - Sculpture Portfolio - Artist - New YorkScreen Shot of John Procario 3/13/14

We believe that sculpture John Procario wanted a site that was slick, contemporary and so clean that it wouldn’t distract visitors from his work. The opposite occurred. It doesn’t have any sort of call to action. Worst of all, you can’t even enlarge each piece of work. Without a larger image, how can you see how talented this artist is?

21. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center of Advanced Visual Studies

2014-03-13 17_35_06-CenterScreen Shot of Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center of Advanced Visual Studies 3/13/14

The site claims that “The Center for Advanced Visual Studies is a fellowship program that commissions and produces new artworks and artistic research within the context of MIT.” If that’s the case, then how can they explain this monstrosity of a site? Forget the lack the color. How about the incredibly small print, the overlapping type and that pointless progress bar in the middle of the screen? No wonder this site hasn’t been updated since February 2011.

22. 3D Mailbox

2014-03-13 17_34_04-3D Mailbox - 3-Dimensional Email Software. Bring e-mail to life! Email just gotScreen Shot of 3D Mailbox 3/13/14

This site delivers what we’ve all been demanding for years. Planes and beach graphics straight out of Sims 1 that can be used to decorate our inboxes. At least the site is consistent with the business model.

23. Water on Wheels

2014-03-13 17_32_52-Water on WheelsScreen Shot of Water on Wheels 3/13/14

We think this site sells crafts. And, fire fighting products? We’re not 100% on either one. We are certain that our favorite mistake on this website is the tire superimposed in a water drop that has been placed in front of a flame. Water on wheels, get it?

24. RogerART

2014-03-13 17_31_52-www . RogerART . comScreen Shot of RogerART 3/13/14

The best way to describe this site is manic. We’re not clear on its purpose. And, even if they clearly stated the purpose of the site, we’d never be able to decipher the content. It’s incredibly difficult to read with the red, white, blue letters over a green background. It doesn’t make things easier when these letters fluctuate between upper and lower cases.

25. Bavarian Brathouse

2014-03-13 17_30_28-Bavarian Brathaus German RestaurantScreen Shot of Bavarian Brathouse 3/13/14

Brats and 19 German beers on draft! We’re sold. Unfortunately, we’re not sold on the site. A potentially good idea having a house, but it just wasn’t executed very well. The restaurant closed up last year and now patrons in Durham, North Carolina, have to get their brats and schnitzel at the German Grille. We think it’s the same owners. If so, their new website isn’t much of an improvement.

26. Mama’s Cheesies

2014-03-13 17_29_12-Mama's Cheesies_ handmade clothing and accessoriesScreen Shot of Mama’s Cheesies 3/13/14

For starters, we can’t even get past the name. Would you have guessed that this site sold handmade clothing and accessories? I guess they were trying to give the site a restaurant vibe. If so, that doesn’t work. Besides that, the site isn’t very exciting. There’s too much of the grey background and not enough of showcasing the products. Plus, all the pictures are blurry and stretched. No good.

27. Penny Juice

2014-03-13 17_26_36-Who is Penny Juice_Screen Shot of Penny Juice 3/13/14

A great business idea that is, unfortunately, attached to a migraine-inducing website. We think that the idea was to convey a fun, bright and lighthearted website that reflected what the product is – 100% blended fruit juice concentrate specifically designed for childcare locations. Instead, we have an extremely vibrant site full of testimonials in all-caps. We’re thinking most childcare providers won’t make it passed the front page to place an order.

What are the most common website designs mistakes that you’re seen?


Featured Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Albert Costill
Albert Costill is a co-founder of evolvor.com and a freelance writer who has written for brands like ForRent.com and Search Engine Journal. When he’s not... Read Full Bio
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  • Linda Taylor (@IndieLin)

    Bavarian Brathouse deserves at least 3 schnitzels!

  • Pawas G

    haha! the death of UI/UX. People, just get a wordpress template and get the dummy data working. 🙂

  • Ron

    Honestly, I’m not sure what the point of this piece is, other than to just be snarky. There are a million examples of horrible design to every one example of great design. No secret there.

    • Kelsey Jones

      Hi Ron,
      Thanks for commenting. We published this post because we thought it was a fun look at unique design, some of which has gone horribly “wrong” and some of which that it actually working out for the designer/owner (as the commenter mentioning Ling’s Cars brought up).

      While I try to stay pretty relevant in the web design world, there were a few I hadn’t seen yet that Albert found. Just a good reminder that bad and good design is all around us, and most of us judge its quality based on our own preferences.

  • Marie

    I agree with Ron. This doesn’t teach anything that’s wouldn’t be obvious to a 5 y.o.

    • Kelsey Jones

      Hi Marie,
      Thanks for commenting and reading SEJ! While most of our posts are designed to teach a thing or two (no matter what level of marketer/professional we are), we occasionally publish articles that are still of interest for our industry, even if it seems obvious to most.

  • Peter

    Wow, these websites are hilarious! Out of all of them I was surprised at number 20. John Procario, then I went onto the website to check out what was so bad about it. Once I was on the website there was nothing on there. There was no navigation, only the logo redirects you back to the main page. You know what else is great, sometimes when you click on the image, another image will show up instead. That’s a really great design.

    • Kelsey Jones

      Bad design and bad navigation. A true user experience.

  • #Donatella. (@thelittlemonsta)

    Ling’s Cars is actually real!

  • Justin Henson

    Erm Ling’s Cars is actually a very successful business and is a perfect example of how to rip up the rulebook when it comes to a building a successful website. While not easy on the eye, the actual content makes a lot of sense and they have also won awards for their live chat system.

    Your article makes snide comment on something you clearly haven’t researched properly.

    • Kelsey Jones

      Hey Justin, I knew about Ling’s Cars and it still blows my mind how smart Ling is. While the purpose of this article was to be entertaining, we don’t mean any true harm to anyone who has a “bad” design that actually works for them. Just like interior design, it’s all dependent on the person living with it!

  • robertlakebarrett

    I think I (sort of) figured out Number 20 John Procario. Once you go to the site and are on the homepage, click on one of the images. Then appears a slideshow with larger images. You have to click somewhere (anywhere) on the page and then use your arrow keys on your keyboard to move from left to right (and vice versa). Thanks Kelsey for the needed diversion! Oh, BTW, if I had loads of cash, I’d love to own some of the works of John Procario!

  • Whitney

    Yeah, this article doesn’t outline actual design mistakes; it just shows examples of crappy websites.

  • Muhammad Noman Khalid

    Nice, but the 12th number is similar to me, now i gonna change it. Thanks SEJ

  • Zoe-Lee Skelton

    I think that many of the websites mentioned here have been created in jest, so technically they’re not design mistakes.

    • Albert Costill

      Yes Zoe-Lee, some have been designed poorly on purpose. But they still make for nice examples of what not to do.