Apps

10 web design tragedies

Number 9: http://www.lingscars.com

Ignore for a moment the horrible design, the hodgepodge assortment of content, ads, and general insanity. Give this site a casual scroll. Go ahead. Scroll down. I dare you. Scroll like your life depended on it. Faster, I say, faster! Quite the journey, wasn't it?  At the bottom we finally reach Mr. Ling's personal assurance that, "The rest can be a little confusing although in a few (business) cases can be appropriate." Trying to understand this in context has actually hurt my brain.

About

Todd Fluhr is a freelance writer and multimedia designer. A self-described "Shockwave Rider" of technology, culture, and creativity, he has been involved in the interactive entertainment industry since the early 90's. He hopes to find time to sleep s...

200 comments
hochspeyer
hochspeyer

The site is not conventional, to say the least. However, she's doing something right... and her site does look like Chinese takeout. Good job, Ling.

P.F. Bruns
P.F. Bruns

I don't think there's an AP Stylebook and Libel Manual entry specifically on the acronym LARP, but the generally accepted usage with acronyms is that only the letters of the acronym itself are capitalized (in this case, "LARP," for "Live-Action Role-Playing"), while the ending "ers" (to denote people who participate in LARP) should not have an apostrophe, as that indicates a possessive. I know it's not a big deal, but it looks better.

Awahili Guni
Awahili Guni

I can rightfully declare with pride that I did not design any of these web design sites, Sam I am, not with Green Eggs and Spam! :-D Personally, after seeing these, someone, would you be kind enough to remove the bottle of you know what away from the web designer please, and pass around the eye bleach for all of us all. One of them actually sort of reminds me of a 50s' diner's table only that it isn't retro era of the 1800s' catalogue. *Rats* Otherwise, it would have been interesting to read how much it cost back then, for example - mustache wax for men for those elite outstanding mustaches? And oh those derires for the ladies ... Sears, Roebuck & Co or was that Montgomery Wards and Co? :P I give it an EPIC FAIL! (YAY me for once I get to post that!)

katgurl13
katgurl13

Flame wars aside, the majority of the sites listed in C. T. Fluhr's article are prime examples of what NOT to do when professionally designing a web site. Rambling pages chock full of slow loading graphics and distracting gifs, overuse of flash, navigation that leaves the end user wondering WTF? and sloppy coding (perhaps the biggest sin of all for those of us smart enough to know what soruce code should look like) are all glaring errors that fly in the face of good design. Some of these sites, as previously mentioned, are intentionally "bad." The fake political site and quirky, enigmatic Zombo are two examples. As for the rest -- they really should have known better. Tsk, tsk!

Ole88
Ole88

If you look closely (like a developer) you will find a link to a second site in the Zombocom family - 15footstick.com. It looks just as useless as the first, just with a little more content.

tuanazmil
tuanazmil

I think it's no biggie that Todd added all these sites and considered them a "tragedy" considering that the sites do have some clutter and appearance issues. What I think wasn't right was his commentaries that greatly reflects his personality. Todd, if you're reading this, maybe next time you'd want Ling to do you like she wanted to do Clarkson. I for one, despise your arrogance.

cahalfinbarr
cahalfinbarr

Fascinating article. Dont often read since it is so difficult to find things on the site. Ling's site is horrible but (1) her product is good, (2) navigation is easy (3) it works. Two questions spring to mind 1) Will good products sell in spite of bad websites. 2) Will rubbish sell if presented in a well designed website. Thinking of these one moves to wider and deeper considerations. I hate raw meat. A chef goes on television telling us that meat is ruined by cooking it properly. As a paid technician, master or no, he should cook the meat as the customer requires. We have self appointed experts pontificating in all areas. Software design is bedevilled by arbitrary man-made rules that complicate the process, adding to the cost and not assisting in the correctness or the functionality. Forget the rant about P.C. correctness and let us get back to websites. My favourites a) The website that I find by searching for a specific product and finally give up trying to find it therein. b) The site of a company claiming to be the world's largest website proofing company that advertises a job, giving the incorrect location address and spelling its own head office address incorrectly. c) The 50% of sites offering accommodation that use 11 different misspellings of the word. Do they ever wonder why they do not get replies?

Silverhill
Silverhill

...is Gene Ray's "Time Cube" rant ( http://www.timecube.com ). 75 kB, 11,000 words of ... stuff, in 30-point, center-justified, brightly-colored type ... about how Earth actually goes through four simultaneous days per 24-hour cycle; how all of physics is wrong; how all those evil educators try to suppress his enlightened views; how you are "educated evil" and/or "educated stupid" if you follow the schools' conventional (but wrong) teachings; etc. Genuine nutcase. Amusing, in a painful way, to read.

groobiecat
groobiecat

And yeah, I knew right away that Ling was a she. Do the homework, guys; not that hard. I also like the fact that she shoots fascist-leaning Jeremy Clarkson with an assault rifle. Fun! Not all sites have to be off-gray with subtle borders and "clean" design. This site works because people find it interesting. It's different. And it's wholly appropriate for the whole "Crazy Larry's Crazy Deals!" ethos that retailers trying to grab attention try to do. The process is probably my favorite part (see "stupid friends"): ...how it works! 1) Choose a car to lease or get a quote 2) Fill in online car leasing proposal form 3) Get accepted for contract hire finance 4) Sign a lease order form 5) Complete posted documents 6) Take lease delivery, like Chinese takeaway 7) Drive and show off & impress stupid friends

jd
jd

Having followed this thread and the various comments - including my own - I guess it is now about time to take heed of the old adage and: Agree to Disagree - or as the French would say - Vive la difference!

blueberry606
blueberry606

HUH? I thought I was going to learn something..................We already know what not to do..............I would rethink that title and add worst to it.

waytoomuchjoy
waytoomuchjoy

Does it follow that if a badly designed site (no taste) does well that the bad design is no longer bad design? Success proves nothing but success and that is not the subject at hand. Bad design is still bad design.

gshriner
gshriner

Good or Bad I would love to have my domain DateLincoln.com blasted! So please by all means write a review for me good or bad I will take the visits as a complement, TechRepublic.com did you a huge favor!

bigjude
bigjude

Just for the record, as an admiring commentator on Ms Ling's website and a critic of Todd Whatsisname who calls himself a writer but can't even get people's genders right, I AM NOT A RELATIVE OF MS LING. I don't know Ms Ling. I'd never heard of Ms Ling until I read what Todd had to say about her website. I'm not even Chinese. So anyone with a design background, who thinks the positive comments about Ms Ling's website are coming from her friends and relatives, is quite wrong. I live in New Zealand not the UK, but should I ever need to lease a car there, Ms Ling's website will be my first stop. As for websites, they're transient things, any trading site being unlikely to last as long as junk mail does, or shop signs, or the sign on the brothel in the remains of Pompei, so it's fascinating to see people becoming self righteous about the way a website looks.. If it was the design of one of Ms Ling's leased cars, it might be understandable. After all, cars have some life, maybe even ending up in a museum if they're lucky. But a trading website changes with each product that's added. The only justification for Todd's junky story being used in TechRepublic is that websites are made by writing code and many of the readers here understand that code. So next time write one about junky code, Toddy boy (if you're capable of it) but first you should apologise to the lady for your poorly researched piece. It was your arrogance that provoked all the comments, not partisanship by Ms Ling's friends.

faithingod1970
faithingod1970

Agree with most of these, especially the overload ones and certainly for someone who could come up with Harry Potter should have a better site but number three was not that bad, I didn't think. Probably could have been further down the list like at 10.

pbileci
pbileci

Everybody Loves Hypno-Toad!

ngukurr2
ngukurr2

It's is short for it is or it has, its is the possessive - please be aware that this is an exception to the rule of possessives having an apostrophe, so it's mine is correct, but it can't have it's cake and eat it too is incorrect - I hope all readers who get their it's and its mixed up are now clear on this. Mr Fluhr should know better, being such a highbrow - nudge, nudge, wink, wink!

Professor8
Professor8

"Really bad web pages have too much scripting or or other crap going on with them" Yes! Today, just to get to these discussions required restarting my web browser a couple times. This is far from the worst, though. Disqus is rotten. The whitehouse.gov site is one of the worst. On some sites, the heading and maybe a footing show up, but the content is totally scrambled, with text over-laid onto text and/or images. In others, the heading and side-bar are scrambled, but once you scroll down to the article body it's in relatively good shape. Some of this is due to out-sourcing to contractors who don't have a clue.

PhysicsTech2
PhysicsTech2

I hope you realize that this page has a rotating flash banner at the top that is led by a Best Buy advertisement that scrolls thru all kinds of crap?? The color choices may not be my or anyone who designs webs sites choice, but have you walked around an office and look at the color choices people select?? If you want a number one, you should pick based on something other than the excessive use of PantShop Pro 3. Gimme a break! TechRepublic is as big a failure at motion animation as anyone on the web. I would have picked your number 10 as my number 1, just due to it's resemblence of a christmas ad from 1960.

Qatarian
Qatarian

Uhmm, evry1, me thinks thers a lesson 2 be lernt here, just read all the comments, and pleez dont slam my spelling I ment it that way!!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

In the past I've requested critical feedback from TR members on my own tiny site. I incorporated some suggestions, and responded with reasons why I didn't adopt others. Yes, mine is -very- simple, and there are areas with way too much color. However, the important part is that it meets the demands of my tiny audience (less than 30 people).

jayohem
jayohem

The latest in a wonderful tradition of automobile salespeople. Crazy Earl, Ralph the dog-lover, Mort, father of five. Prices slashed; get a free Yugo with each Bentley purchased; We pay the sales tax! VAT included (for you Atlantic Islanders); top dollar for trade in; Zero interest; Free Superbowl Tickets; If you find a lower price... Need I say more? :-)

XEyedBear
XEyedBear

Whilst not disagreeing with the view that the design of this web-site is pretty awful, the bottom line is that LingsCars is the most successful business of it's type in the UK - by a wide margin. So there isn't a strong inverse correlation between quality of web-site and quality of the business. The reviewer has a little egg on his/her ace: Mr. Ling is in fact a young, dynamic, very beleivable Chinese woman who is widely respected in UK for her entrepreneurial ability and her business acumen. I would much rather have her running my business than have a slick web-site design.

d3xownz
d3xownz

After a serious going over of the sites in question, and reading the replies, I had to weigh in. Mr. Fluhr, I wholeheartedly agree with your estimation of these sites. As a burgeoning design talent myself I would have been given low, if not failing, marks in school for ever having conceived these horrific atrocities of the human spirit. 1) "Mister" Ling - How many of your family members are you going to have bombard this TechRepublic article comments page before you feel vindicated? I would never have even seen your site without it, regardless of the fact I truly wish I had not. Also, please and for the sake of future web endeavors HAVE A PROFESSIONAL TAKE YOUR PHOTOS!! You do indeed look very masculine and while I prefer the comfort of a woman's touch you look like you do as well (to each their own, simply an observation)...and remember, sometimes Photoshop is NOT your friend. 2) The "ZOMBO" commentators - Consider this the last gasp of a "Not-funny-now-never-was-funny-to-begin-with" joke for coders who (hopefully) enjoyed their 15 minutes of "fame" and moved on. Please follow suite. It is 2011 after all, not "the 90's". 3) I personally find Mr. Fluhr's site easily navigable and concise. I see a flaw or two, but nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING as bad as the sites he mentioned. One thing before I go - THESE ARE OPINIONS and not facts, this is simply how I feel. I disagree with you...this is allowed. Accept it as a fact of life and move forward. Evolve or die, as the saying goes. -D3x

maruadventurer
maruadventurer

The true measure of success is you outlive your competition. I would hazard to say if arngren is still around after a decade with *that* design, maybe they know something about their customer base that you the reviewer do not. IT types sometime get a bit heady of themselves.

viggenboy
viggenboy

As a web designer I take pride in my work but there are times when the customer (witness Mrs Ling's comments for example) is absolutely, emphatically insistent that your design complies with any one or even a greatest hits combo of the sins that are listed above. You can offer them any manner beautifully elegant, competently efficient or stylishly executed designs, but no they are insistent that your website has a purple, yellow and puce border with a brown masthead just like their (god-damned-awful) logo and headed notepaper from hell. And the JUST LOVE the idea that "all you have to do is scroll down and not have to click buttons, and can see "all their products on one page". Indeed I've even lost customers because I've refused to comply. But if I don't comply with the customer's crazy-assed ideas , the next (poor sod of a) web designer will.

wes
wes

They say that literary critics are people who are jealous of those who actually create literature. Apparently the same idea applies to site critics.

paradisewebdesigntx
paradisewebdesigntx

I teach it every year, and this was used in class to show what NOT to do when designing a website. Yes, it is basics, just like you have to learn basic grammar before writing huge essays.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

zombo is a parody site and does what it does perfectly, It's incredibly successful at that. I included in my list as an example of a weird, mysterious website with no readily apparent purpose, which is exactly what it was designed to be.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

I was reviewing the sites from the perspective of a casual web visitor. But thanks for the additional exploration! I'd hate to think I was so dumb as to miss some obvious link or purpose visible on the page.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

To be despised by one such as you is high praise indeed. In addition to my arrogance, you may also wish to add to your list my habit of kicking small animals for amusement.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

I was using sites as diverse examples of different kinds of artistic / design mistakes. Many of the sites I used were of very successful authors and businesses. My criticisms were of an artistic nature. I'm glad these sites are successful, They fly in the face of "standard practices". But unless you can recognize the design mistakes, you may be in danger of accidentally repeating their mistakes but not their success.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

Never ever read one of my articles expecting to learn something. Seriously.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

I was commenting on artistic design .... not success. In fact, I was surprised by the continued success of Ling's site, but that had no bearing on the appearance of the site, no more so than the success of Rowling or Martin had on my opinion of their design aesthetics.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

I hereby apologize to Ms. Ling for the fact her disembodied head at the top of her page appears quite masculine.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

For the record, I loved the Rowling design ..... but hated the lack of a quick and easy to find navigation alternative. That was my sole point in including it. The website forces you to explore it like a game. It's beautiful, atmospheric, and cool, but dang it, what if I needed to find a certain link fast under a time crunch and didn't have time to explore?

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

.... I pay them in bananas. I'm a satirist, not an editor.

boomchuck1
boomchuck1

I think the lesson is that you learned to type with 2 thumbs.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

Obviously you're expecting some kind of bribe for that. I have to warn you: I'm not that attractive.

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

...and learn a lot from C. Todd Fluhr's ill-informed yet derisive blogs, and his own examples of website-design genius. Remember, THE BOX is the limit; no thinking shall be done elsewhere (that could lead to pandemonium).

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

I didn't include sites in my list based on their business success. For goodness sake, Rowling and Martin are incredibly successful writers. My list was made up of sites that offended (either on purpose as part of a satire or by poor design) me on some aspect regarding their artistic design. In some cases, the site's "ugly" design was on purpose. In such cases, that site serves as an excellent example by the very virtue of having succeeded in their design goal.

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

his or her willingness to adhere to the customer's design and appearance imperatives. Oftentimes primadonnas can't find their way down to the trenches where their craft is actually being plied (and those who are so sure they must know what's best for a customer's business and won't budge probably DO have to turn down a lot of work). Learning to play requests-and to make the best of them--is part of becoming a professional.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

... by this logic, who then will ever be permitted to have an opinion? One person's great literature might be another person's "Twilight".

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

what's 'tragic' about "an example of a weird, mysterious website with no readily apparent purpose, which is exactly what it was designed to be."? That description of Zombo.com sounds like a paraphrase of your apologia for your OWN website.....

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

Fine art, as a rule, doesn't have much respect for the 'straight line' (mull the implictions of that for a second!); it's even claimed that such a thing doesn't exist in nature. The elements of composition for art are not, for the most part, congruent with those of 'design' (despite what school may have told you). Symmetry of some type (radial, binary, et al), for example, is generally 'good design', and allows for 'vignettting' one's subject. 'Art', on the other hand, employs asymmetrical composition: 'movement', 'dynamic movement', et al. I could go on, but I'm not going to---suffice it to say: art and design are not the same things. Websites may or may not employ good design; whether a site's design is 'good' or not is a business consideration, NOT an 'artistic' one. Art may use straight lines foundationally to register 1, 2, or 3 point perspective, but that's about it; design uses them everywhere. Art tends to mix its own pigments to achieve 'color harmony'; design gets 'close enough' with the 'process colors' primary yellow, magenta, cyan, and black. Those mix the 61 colors on the DIC chart, and reproduce adequately in printing applications and on RGB screens. In short, business websites aren't (nor are they intended to be) art. If they were 'artistic', business wouldn't have anything to do with them because they'd draw art viewers instead of 'customers'. Thus, attempting to ridicule business sites for 'artistic lapses' is disingenuous straw-man-ism on your part. Art is rendered individually, and its purpose is to scintillate the aesthetic sense with original, thought-or-inspiration-provoking image(s); design uses templates, 'style sheets', borders and vignetttes, public-domain 'clip art', and a limited pallette.... Look at a book on the elements of Design, and compare it to one on the elements of Art. They're completely different; and for different audiences. Now there's a generation of Kaplan/ITT Tech/UofPhoenix web design grads who think they're suddenly ARTISTS (or, at least, art critics) . I guess if you all had studied music instead you'd be laughing haughtily at pop music (which is a business) and vacuously comparing it to Shubert and vanBeethoven (who are NOT a business, but were 'artistic'). Pointing out a website's 'artistic mistakes' is, at once, pompous and stupid...and (at least to me) back-handedly entertaining to read....don't flatter yourself that we were at all 'disturbed' by your blog; you're actually hilarious.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

... otherwise I'd have to put down my coffee and cigarette.

toddfluhr
toddfluhr

If you take even the most basic of web design principles as a guideline of what should and should not be done for a website, then each of the examples on my list reflects one violation or another of these principles. If (for example) one wanted to illustrate a website with overly cluttered graphics used to set a mood, then my own website would be a good example of the tragedy of ignoring this basic rule of web. However, there was a another example available that better defined the tragic outcome of this overuse of mood vs function. That example belongs to one of the most successful authors around and the tragedy in that case is that the mood / graphics overshadowed and obscured navigation. Had that author's site not been available, I may very well have used mine in its place.

hippiekarl
hippiekarl

If you live on coffee and cigarettes you can't be ALL bad.