How to Have a Terrible Website and Frustrate the Heck out of Your Visitors

By Jason OConnor
Copyright 2009

The following lists come from my Web design and marketing book presented in a slightly different way and that I included in my latest Net Gazette edition.

If you’re a sadistic kind of webmaster or website owner and have a burning desire to royally frustrate and anger your site visitors each and every time they visit your site, these three lists are just for you. If you want to have a terrible website that looks bad, works horribly and breaks fundamental marketing rules, read on.

First let me explain why there are three lists. One way to look at any website is to break it up into three equally important segments; design, technical and marketing. In other words, every site on the Web contains these three components. They all have a design or look and feel (design), they all have to be on a server and coded properly to be live on the Internet (technical) and they all have ways in which they attract visitors and make sales (marketing).

So let’s look at the top ten ways in which you can annoy your website visitors and basically fail miserably at the whole website endeavor in each of these three segments. The following is a list, broken up into the three categories, defining exactly what NOT to do.

Top 10 Ways to Achieve Web Design Horror and Anger the Heck out of your Wesite Visitors

  1. Never use Web conventions, instead use crazy and wacky formats that no one’s ever seen and no one can understand
  2. Write trite, unoriginal boring and paraphrased content only and never update your site
  3. Create totally different and unique navigation for every page so that your visitors need to waste time re-learning your navigation every time they go to a new page. Also create totally different look & feels for every page so that your visitors never know if they’re on the same site or clicked away.
  4. Use confusing, obfuscated and mysterious labels for all your links and buttons so that no one ever has any idea where they’re going if they click. The more confusing, the better.
  5. Make it impossible to search the site. Offer no search box, no site map and basically no possible way to find anything on your website.
  6. Include content that only talks about you. Never mention anything about your visitors or how you can help them, just talk about you and your history and all your achievements. And while you’re at it, include a big picture of you and your office building right on the home page.
  7. Include only poorly-written copy with lots of grammar mistakes, and ubiquitous, curious and horrendous spelling and punctuation mistakes throughout your site.
  8. Don’t include any text. Make every page on your site one big picture. So for instance, on your home page have one giant picture of you and your office building and have no text so search engines can’t see your site at all.
  9. Use buttons for your navigation only, or use complicated JavaScript drop down menus that complicate your sites navigation. Either way, if you do this and include no text links, the search engines won’t be able to spider (navigate and record) your website.
  10. Make your site as difficult to read as possible. Use teeny, tiny fonts that are hard to read against some funky-colored background. For instance, use blue fonts on a black background.

Top 10 Ways to Anger Visitors using Technical Aspects of Your Website

  1. Make your website take forever to load in people’s browsers. The longer the better.
  2. Make it so that your site looks completely different on everybody’s computer. So for Macs your site looks like one way, and for PCs it looks another way. Or have it look totally different in Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox.
  3. Make it so that any functionality on the site is confusing to figure out and works improperly and inconsistently every time it’s used.
  4. Include lots of broken links and missing images throughout.
  5. Be sure to set it up so that it regularly crashes. For example, if more than three people are visiting the site at the same time, the home page becomes inaccessible.
  6. Has no form validation. Allow visitors to enter any thing under the sun into your website forms. Maybe some smart hacker-types will enter executable code that corrupts or takes over your server.
  7. Make all your site visitors have to download and install lots of plug ins to view your site properly. If they don’t, too bad.
  8. Tell people that they have to view your site in a specific browser and browser version only.
  9. Make it so that there are tons of pop-ups, moving newsletter sign-up boxes, running videos, animations and Flash movies that take forever to download before you can view the site.
  10. Use lots of frames

Top Ten Web Marketing No-No’s:

  1. Make your website completely bounce-friendly. On other words, make it ‘un-sticky’ so that when people arrive on one of your pages, they leave immediately
  2. Include no calls to action so that your site never asks your website visitors to do a thing. Make it so that every page is a dead end that leaves your visitors scratching their heads and then clicking away.
  3. Does absolutely nothing to build your brand
  4. Has no terms or policies page
  5. Evokes no emotions. Make the site flat, boring, gray, dull and forgettable.
  6. Make sure there is no way for anyone who visits your site to sign up for anything or give you their contact info or email address. Certainly don’t use your site to build any kind of email list.
  7. Converts no one who visits your site into a paying customer. Ever.
  8. Never measure anything
  9. Include no phone number or email and absolutely no other way to contact you. Hide behind your website completely.
  10. Make it so that search engine can’t read your site and make it so that people can’t really read your site either.

Follow these three lists to the letter and you may win the Worst Website in the World list (if that even exists) and you’ll definitely anger and frustrate your website visitors to high heaven.