7 Bad Websites That Are Actually Successful And What We Can Learn From Them

Web Design
7 Bad Websites That Are Actually Successful And What We Can Learn From Them
Article by Maria Martin
Last Updated: June 18, 2024

Did you know that a whopping number of 90% of users would bounce from a website that is badly designed?

When people browse the web they want to get where they want fast and find what they look for with ease.

However, not every website is built the way to satisfy its users. And some of them not only fail to deliver their message, but they also push their visitors away.

This is why web design matters.

Read on to: 

  • Find out what are the elements of bad websites
  • Discover the effects of bad website design
  • Get familiar with the most poorly designed websites
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What Makes For Bad Website Design: 5 Factors That Can Drive Your Visitors Away

Research shows that visitors form an opinion about brands in only seven seconds. And considering the fact that 87% of consumers now search for products online, your website is the primary source of the first impression.

Can you imagine what can happen if they see a bad design?

The truth is that they won’t make an effort navigating around or consuming your promotional content and message if they get frustrated by unwelcoming elements.

But what makes for a bad website design?

You may be described as one of the worst websites ever by some organizations online and not even being aware of it.

Here are the top five factors that contribute to bad design and push your visitors away:

The time in which visitors form opinions about websites

1. Lack Of Clear Organization

People visit your website for a purpose. Once they land on some of your pages they either look for certain information about your company and products or they come to make a purchase.

However, if your poorly designed website doesn’t allow them to find what they want easily and quickly then you can lose a great number of potential clients.

When we say bad design in terms of organization, we refer to:

  • No or poor call to actions
  • No or hard to find the search button
  • No headings and subheadings
  • Big paragraphs of texts
  • Many options in navigation bars
  • Long drop-down menus

Above all, cluttered design can make your site very messy. It confuses and irritates your visitors which results in higher bounce rates.

2. Too Many Distractions

If you think that you can sell your message by including too many elements on your website then you are wrong.

Web-users crave simplicity and too much content and bothersome intrusions on a single page will only make them want to flee.

Poorly designed websites very often lack visual order and have excessive usage of different components that distract users while dragging their attention from your sales message.

Some of the elements of bad website design that can bothersome your users include:

  • Excessive usage of animation and gifs
  • Auto-playing videos and music
  • Pop-up ads that fill the screen

Having a simple and welcoming site will allow your users to benefit from their visit and respond much better to what you sell.

3. Unresponsiveness

According to Statista, mobile devices (excluding tablets) generated 51.98% of the total web views in February 2020.

It means that now more people access the internet via their smartphones than via desktop.

In fact, the company projects that by 2024, about 187.5 million US-based web users will have made at least a single purchase using their mobile devices.

And, if your website is not responsive just because you have a bad design, then you may be losing profit and giving your prospects to your competition.

The total mobile web traffic in 2019

4. Slow Loading Pages

Research on mobile page speed made by Think with Google shows that as a mobile page goes from one to ten seconds to load, the number of bounce rates can increase by 123%.

Similarly, the effects of bad design can decrease conversions by 95% as the site’s components go from 400 to 6,000.

We live in a digital world where people want digital experiences. They are inherently impatient and they want to get what they search for fast.

Slow loading pages push your visitors away and some of the factors that contribute to this are:

  • Flash
  • Too many images
  • Large videos
  • Excessive use of CSS and JavaScript
  • Usage of unnecessary code

5. Unclear Message

One of the biggest mistakes poorly designed websites make is not providing their users with a clear message and not being consistent in who they are and what they offer.

Once visitors arrive on a site, they should be able to easily tell what it is about and what it sells.

Bad website design with an unclear message is usually a design that has very little or lacks content, both visual and written.

This includes:

  • Product images
  • How-to videos
  • About Us page
  • Blog
  • Testimonials
  • Reviews
  • Case studies
  • And more

No one will stick around your pages if they don’t find any value there.

As a business, you don’t just need to bring leads, but you also need to capture their attention with meaningful content and keep them interested and engaged so that they can convert.

Check out the silliest, most pointless websites out there.

What Are The Effects Of Bad Design?

We didn’t address the elements of crappy designs just for the sake of visual appearance. The reality is that bad website design can have a huge impact on your business.

Here is how:

  • It hurts your SEO: Google says that they focus on providing their users with the best experience possible. It means that it ranks websites that provide visitors with value. This is why poorly designed websites tend to have lower SERPs rankings.
  • It ruins your credibility: No matter how great you are at what you do, bad design can damage your reputation. All your elements should be in par with what you offer otherwise you will confuse users and make them leave. In other words, you cannot have pages crowded with gifs and animation if you are serious business since no one would understand your professional message seriously.
  • It costs you conversions: Anything that looks unprofessional, irritating, or unfriendly simply damages the user experience and pushes your potential clients away. And once those users bounce, it is very unlikely that they will return. This costs you conversions and profit.

Top 7 Bad Websites That Are Actually Successful

Not every business owner can understand the difference between good and bad website design. Especially not when their business is doing good.

However, what they are not aware of is the fact that transforming their crappy designs into compelling and user-friendly ones can bring them much better results.
Is your website one of those that can be quite improved to maximize results?

Go through the following seven examples of bad websites and find out whether you are making the same mistakes:

bad websites: LingsCARS
[Source: LingsCARS]

1. LingsCARS

LingsCARS is a UK car leasing provider that has a bad website design due to having too much clutter.

From the second visitors land on their homepage, they are attacked by blinding colors and distracted by too many elements that make it difficult to navigate.

Its design is confusing and looks like spam because of the excessive usage of animations, gifs, flashing lights and widgets.

There is different typography and fonts, too many bold texts in various colors as well as an untidy background.

Once the users arrive on this site, they are not sure what to look at and they get the feel as if all the elements used are screaming for attention.

Above all, the site loads slowly which really upsets people and affects their buying decision.

However, while this website breaks every rule of how good web design should look and is described as the worst website ever, there are a few numbers that tell us how successful it actually is.

  • Monthly Traffic Volume: 10,700
  • Keyword Rankings: 6,600
  • Linking Domains: 10,000

Though considered as one of these bad websites that pushes its users away, it has managed to retain its audiences by being unique and standing out from its competitors.

bad websites: Yale School Of Art
[Source: Yale School Of Art]

2. Yale School Of Art

We can place Yale School Of Art in the group of poorly designed websites because its design is completely out of date. It gives you the feeling that nobody maintains it at all.

It defies all the UX standards that are defined as “best practices” and which drive better results.

There are big letters being combined with tiny letters that are so difficult to read.

The homepage is divided in half, and there is content only on the left side. And no matter how much you zoom in or zoom out, the content stays on the left where you still find it difficult to consume.

There is excessive use of negative space but due to the complexity of the background, it distracts visitors’ attention rather than keeping it on important elements.

Despite being ranked as one of the worst websites out there, Yale School Of Art has:

  • Monthly Traffic Volume: 10,800
  • Keyword Rankings: 5,500
  • Linking Domains: 24,900
bad website design: Budgets Are Sexy
[Source: Budgets Are Sexy]

3. Budgets Are Sexy

Budgets Are Sexy has a bad design mostly because of the feeling of monotony it gives its visitors with.

On the one hand, the color scheme is boring and text paragraphs dominate the visual content.

The website structure is not intuitive and there are too many options provided in the main navigation menu that waste the users’ time while trying to find what they look for.

There are also a few more secondary navigation bars on the right side of the website which furthermore confuse those searching for some key info.

Described as one of "the worst website ever", Budgets Are Sexy has successfully retained its visitors over the years thanks to the quality of its offering.

The website has:

  • Monthly Traffic Volume: 16,000
  • Keyword Rankings: 44,200
  • Linking Domains: 3,46 million
crappy designs: Y Combinator
[Source: Y Combinator]

4. Y Combinator

Y Combinator is a forum for startups, programmers, and entrepreneurs and the website has had the same design since 2007.

It is unfriendly for users for several reasons. On the one hand, when you open the threads they lead to other websites but open in the same tab. So, the users need to click the back button again and again to view another thread, which is irritating.

On the other hand, there is no visual content to keep visitors engaged and the letters are way too small and you need to zoom in so that you can read them.

Moreover, there is a search bar, but it is placed at the very bottom of the page.

While we know how important it is for forums to have search bars to help users easily find the info they are looking for, most of them won’t scroll down and won’t notice it.

This affects the experience of the users and increases the percentage of bounce rates. In fact, according to SimilarWeb, in March 2020, the site’s bounce rate was 50.21%.

However, being listed as one of the most crappy designs by many organizations, Y Combinator has successfully kept its returning visitors and has:

  • Monthly Traffic Volume: 412,000
  • Keyword Rankings: 1 million
  • Linking Domains: 29.1 million
worst websites: Natural Medicine
[Source: Natural Medicine]

5. Natural Medicine

Natural Medicine is another of the poorly designed websites where there is a giant paragraph of text that not only makes it difficult for skimmers to find what they look for, but also pushes visitors away.

The bad website design is characterized by a navigation menu with many drop-down options and small lettered phrases that require zooming in so that you can read them.

Despite being unnoticeable, some of these options open in a new tab where a 404 page appears.

There are tiny letters and too many linked words throughout the page which leads to poor readability. There are also no headings to organize the site’s structure and organize the content.

Their design is not responsive and works poorly on mobile devices but also out of date which tells us that no one maintains it.

However, despite having a reputation as one of the worst websites ever, Natural Medicine has achieved a steady flow of returning visitors.

In fact, it has:

  • Monthly Traffic Volume: 6,400
  • Keyword Rankings: 19,500
  • Linking Domains: 60,500
crappy design - Gatesnfences
[Source: Gatesnfences]

6. Gatesnfences

We list Gatesnfences in the group of poorly designed websites because of the bad experience it provides its users with. Once they land on the site, they are not sure what steps to take to find what they look for.

On the one hand, their navigation menu includes too many options that confuse the visitors and make it hard for them to be guided around.

On the other hand, the phrases are also very bright in color and difficult to read and concentrated on.

There are no headings to keep the content well structured which is why this bad website design pushes visitors away.

The excessive usage of bold text and the lack of CTAs also contribute to the bad website design. And the fact that the site is not secure, may also face high bounce rates.

Being placed among the worst websites:

  • Monthly Traffic Volume: 3,700
  • Keyword Rankings: 7,700
  • Linking Domains: 16,700
poorly designed websites: Arngren
[Source: Arngren]

7. Arngren

When it comes to bad websites, Arngren takes you back to the 90s and gives the feel as if you are reading yellow pages advertisements where every single space for an ad is fulfilled.

There are too many images that confuse visitors who are not sure where to look. The tiny letters make it difficult to find important info and on the whole lack conveying a clear message that sells.

The site has no layout which is frustrating. And, because it has a poor navigational structure that seems endless. There are phrases that are both bold and light and in different colors which gives a disturbing effect.

The cluttered design makes it very difficult to find the contact info and there is no written content to express a promotional message.

What makes this design bad is also the fact that the site is not secure which is bad for SEO and its credibility.

Maybe not doing that well as the other above-mentioned website, yet Arngren has:

  • Monthly Traffic Volume: 1,500
  • Keyword Rankings: 2,300
  • Linking Domains: 6,930

What We Can Learn From These Poorly Designed Websites

Described as the worst websites ever, the above-mentioned examples managed to remain successful thanks to the quality of their offerings.

However, while they enjoy a great number of returning visitors, we can assume that it is very likely that they find it difficult to acquire and convert new users.

This is obviously due to their bad design.

These crappy designs fail to turn their visitors into clients because of:

  • Too much clutter
  • Unclear message
  • Unresponsiveness
  • Slow loading time
  • Poor readability

In other words, they fail to deliver a satisfactory user experience.

If there’s anything we can learn from these crappy designs, that is we should invest in designs that focus on the audiences.

Once visitors land on a page, they should quickly and easily find what they look for. And you as a business owner should provide them with value and make them feel good about being there.

If these bad websites improve their design they can do much better. And they can only do it by focusing on UX and UI.

Web design companies share how you can build website with a strong user experience.

Takeaways On Bad Websites

When web users land on a site, they want to see something attractive.

While it is important to invest in catchy and modern design, you should also understand that website design is not only about visual appearance.

And most businesses believe that if they add as many elements as possible they will capture the users’ attention.

But they are wrong. A good website design agency will always explain this to them, as well as an SEO agency.

For visitors, it is annoying and irritating to see clutter. It not only distracts them from the message the site conveys, but it also pushes them away.

So do poor readability, lack of content, unresponsiveness and slow-loading pages.

These bad websites teach businesses that they should invest in a design that is both appealing but also fully functional because in the digital world we live in there is nothing more important than satisfying the user.

Get connected with the right web design agency for your project.
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