We small business owners are funny about our marketing materials. Whether it’s business cards, brochures, signs or even the paint color on the walls, we’re picky. These businesses are a reflection of us. Some of us are jeans & t-shirts folks, others are pearls & pumps. Our business are our babies.
We all want to think our babies are beautiful.
We want beautiful, professional marketing materials, regardless of the style. Elegant or rustic. Formal or casual. We want our branding to look great to our customers, including our websites.
In my job, I get the chance to look at a lot of websites. Folks even send me links to websites, particularly those they think are either incredibly ugly or incredibly gorgeous. I need to keep up with the latest design trends in the industry, so website viewing is a part of my day.
Business owners also send me links to their websites wanting to know if their website is ugly. While most sites could use a few improvements here and there, it’s rare that I ever have to tell someone that their website is ugly.
What does an ugly website look like?
I’ve got a free ebook, Your Website is Ugly, which lists out 10 things that go into making a website ugly. What it doesn’t do is show you an example of an ugly website. Recently, a friend sent me a link to this website which is a great illustration of what can go wrong when you decide to make your own website.
In case you are wondering if your website is ugly, there is no way that your website is this ugly:
What makes this website so ugly?
The color scheme
Back in the olden day of the web, say 1998, we were starting to get the ability to display more colors and graphics. We went a little hog wild, though, and I’m sure there were a lot of cases of hysterical blindness that resulted from pink text on blue background with a repeated pebble graphic border and an flashing headline. Sadly, I have to admit that I designed a couple of sites like that.
We’ve come a long way since then. With nearly unlimited bandwidth on the interweb tubes, we can shoot high resolution photos, load non standard fonts, add gradients, drop shadows, and more. With all of the ability, design has become more restrained.
This website is like a throw back to the good old days. The color scheme is out of date and, with about 15 different colors being use, there are simply too many colors. To make matters worse, those 15 colors aren’t coordinated with one another.
One of the problems with using too many colors is: whatever you are trying to emphasize gets lost in the noise. Nothing on this page stands out and his call to action doesn’t look important.
I count at least 4 different fonts being used. With that many different fonts, plus styling like bold and italic, the text on the page begins to look more like a ransom note created from the morning paper.
Unless you’re under 30, the text size of the main body text is too small to read and the contrast of the purple on the blue background will be hard for people with vision issues to read.
The jumble of blocks was a big thing when web technology allowed us to move things around on the page. But that was at least 10 years ago. With the jumble of colors and fonts, the overall effect is more like a bad collage. The biggest issue is that the blocks of content overlap causing some of the information to get cutoff. Nothing worse than missing out on a vital piece of information!
Poor user interface design
With the exception of Amelia Earhart and Capt. Robert Scott, the majority of humans would rather not explore the unknown. We like things to be where we expect them. After all, exploring the unknown didn’t end all that well for either Earhart or Scott.
Most visitors expect the navigation to be at the top of the page or on the left side (for left to right languages). The main navigation on this page is buried in the middle – not where anyone would go looking for it. By having the menu in the middle, it’s easy to miss as is the extra information on the site.
Overall – too much visual clutter
Too many colors, too many fonts, blocks of pictures and text and the menu lost in the middle.
What does this site get right?
I always like to point out the good things where I find them and there is at least one good thing here. I do have to give this business owner a tip of the hat – he has a couple of very clear calls to action. “Ask about ….” messages tell the visitor what action the business owner would like them to take. There’s no guessing on that here.
Take a look at your website, if you have one. How does it compare to this site? It may not have all of the mistakes here, but I’ll bet there is something that could be improved.
If you want 10 free or low cost tips on how to make your website less ugly and more effective, sign up for a copy of the ebook. As a bonus, you’ll get 10 more tips via email and all of them are basically free to implement.