The Top 5 Awful Site Designs That Amuse the WebpageFX Office

Terrible Site Design

Every once in awhile a really awful site design comes along and makes you laugh, cry, or want to punch your monitor.

You find these sites quite often when you work at a web developer. We share them amongst ourselves and share a laugh.

Here’s a list of the top 5 worst website designs we’ve seen, in order from bad to worst.

Extra! Extra! Our Blog Looks Like a Newspaper!

post-imageAs I mature as a designer I’m seeing more and more the great importance of doing some research before jumping into a design. A classic example of this is our very own blog (yes, the one you’re reading right now!).

The planning that went into creating this blog was probably a lot more than one would expect. Xander and I sat down one fateful sunny afternoon (we won’t discuss how cold it was outside) and discussed what we wanted to accomplish with the blog, who our target was, how we would reach them and still push the envelope for inspirational creativity.

We boiled it down to two options: we could focus on just utilizing our blog to gather links and boost internet presence, or we could create a design that would mix the blogging world with traditional newspapers. The latter built a better argument. A large number of our clients (consequently also our target market) aren’t you’re typical “Blog Readers”, so our angle would be to try and bridge the gap between something they were comfortable with: reading a morning paper over some hot java, and something we were comfortable with: pining over blog posts looking for the latest tips and tricks.

How You Became A Master Online Copywriter in 5th Grade

Xander Outlining in 5th Grade
Me outlining in 5th grade

Everybody remembers 5th grade.

My teacher was Mrs. Gunning at St Joseph Elementary in Dallastown, PA. She loved outlining.

We outlined everything. Our science books, our history books, sometimes even our math books. She couldn’t get enough of it!

“When am I ever going to use this?” I grumbled as I scribbled roman numeral after roman numeral in my marble notebook.

It turns out that a search-engine-optimized web page is set up exactly like a 5th grade textbook outline.

And if you arrange your pages using this template, Google will understand your content more easily and you’ll boost your rankings.

10 Tips for Every Web Designer

After attending a few web design conferences this year (namely An Event Apart and Future of Web Design) I saw it fitting to put together a few tips that I’ve picked up, both technical and procedural. I feel these conferences have greatly changed my view on how websites are and should be created, and hope this list of tips can help strengthen my fellow web designers. So without further blabber, here they are:

web design photo

1. The Magic of 62.5

Let’s start off with an easy technical tip. If in your stylesheet you set the font size of your body element to 62.5% your text will render on most browsers (we’ll get to IE6 in a minute) as 10px. You might be saying, “10 pixels?? Why is that so special?.”

Doing this allows you to create fluid layouts out of practically any design. With a base value of 10px you can now set every measurement in your CSS in em‘s. Have a wrapper container that needs to be 1000px?

Well, now you can set it to 100em and the browser will display it just as planned, but if a user decides to increase their text size, your entire layout will grow respectively, essentially creating a “page zoom” that doesn’t break your containers.

For an example of what this looks like, check out one of our recently launched mini-sites: Beaujolais Duboeuf. Below is the code that you can put into your CSS, including an IE6 rule to balance out all the browsers.

body { font-size: 62.5%; }
* html body { font-size: 10px; }

Why Do You Only Have One Website?

Let’s say…

Your business, Quality Firearm Cases, has a problem.

Demand for your product has plummeted and revenues are falling fast.

You’re leaning on an unlikely side product to stay afloat: plastic tubes for telescopes. Turns out gun cases and telescopes are made from the same materials.

You need a way to jumpstart your telescope business. Most of your gun cases are sold through your website, but getting viable leads for telescopes would be virtually impossible at

So what should you do?

My advice: Build a whole new site for your telescope goods.

The internet isn’t like real life. In real life you have one store with one sign, and therefore usually have only one thing to sell.

People tend to think of the internet as an extension of the real world: “I have a physical business, and I need a website that reflects what my business is.”

But online it’s different. You can build a virtual store around every single one of your core competencies.

It doesn’t make sense to try to sell telescope tubes to people looking for firearm cases (or even to have the two groups of customers come to the same site), but both of your products deserve an equal shot at being sold.

If your business handles two completely different services, the best way to give each a chance at thriving is to build sites around each service.

A potential client will be confused with a site that tries to sell him gun cases and telescopes at the same time, but be delighted with one completely devoted to what he’s looking for.

Make holiday search traffic work for you

memorial day 1

Are you taking advantage of holidays?

This past Memorial Day got me thinking about how one could do a better job at bringing in holiday search traffic.  For instance, tailoring content on your site for Halloween, Christmas, Valentines Day, Easter and so on could increase search engine traffic during those times.

To do so, one should take notes from blogger Darren Rowse.  In this post, he talks about anticipating the influx of readers during different holidays.  He suggests that, while you should write to please the search engines, you should also make your content valuable to those who loyally read your writing.  I couldn’t agree more.

Memorial Day might not be a highly searched term online, but we do have another major holiday coming up soon – Independence Day.  Writing content for Fourth of July search traffic may take a little imagination, but it can definitely be done.  For instance, if I were writing a piece on this blog, I could perhaps write it about the top ten most patriotic web site designs.  All I would have to do is slip a few keywords in, such as “Independence Day” or “Fourth of July” or “4th of July” and write around them.  As an added bonus, the sites I link to might link back, and backlinks to your web site are never a bad thing.

Here’s some homework for you – try writing a small sample piece about a holiday of your choice.  If you’re a big turkey fan, do it about Thanksgiving.  If I were to write an example, I’d write it about how designing a web site is a lot like preparing a Thanksgiving turkey.  The approaches you can take are only limited by your imagination.